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WNBA coaches able to challenge calls in 2023 season

Aces coach Becky Hammon disputes a call with referee Tiara Cruse during the 2022 WNBA semifinals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The WNBA added a new wrinkle to the always testy relationship between coaches and referees as one of two rules changes the league will implement for the 2023 season.

Coaches will be allowed to challenge one play per game, regardless of whether or not the challenge is successful, the WNBA announced Thursday. The rule changes first were reported late Wednesday by the Associated Press.

The challenge can be be used at the coach’s discretion and will trigger an instant replay review of an out-of-bounds call, a goaltending call or a foul called on the coach’s own team.

The second rule change looks to protect transition play.

Per the new “transition take foul” rule, when a defender fouls a player to stop a fast break, the team that was fouled will be awarded a free throw. Any player can shoot the free throw, and the team will also get possession following the attempt. In addition, the defender who committed the foul will be issued a personal foul.

The rule’s purpose is to facilitate better flow and to stop teams from deliberately fouling to end a fast-break chance.

Both rules are already in place in the NBA. The challenge rule was implemented in the men’s league during the 2020-21 season, and the transition take rule took effect this season.