For the first time in 35 years, the NBA will open the season with a new ball. For the tenth time in ten years, so will high school basketball teams in Pennsylvania. Unlike the NBA, however, which made the switch in an attempt to improve shooting percentages, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association was forced to change due to product cost. The PIAA must accept the "lowest responsible bid" for sports products and equipment, thus the move from the Wilson "Solution" to the Baden "Perfection Elite." A shipment of the new balls recently arrived at Lower Merion and Aces players have had an opportunity to give them a test run.
While the NBA ball is drawing harsh criticism from the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Kwame Brown, opinions are mixed for the Aces' new rock. One thing is certain - the Baden has a noticeably different feel. Players found it easier to shoot the softer, more cushioned Wilson ball, but like the firmer, more solid Baden ball for ballhandling purposes. The new ball is slightly lighter, causing more balls to "rim out" instead of funneling through the hole. But the players' biggest complaint is that the Baden gets slippery in a hurry when wet.
Both the Baden and Wilson are made of composite leather suitable for multiple playing surfaces and conditions, though the Wilson ball is branded as "indoor only." The Baden retails for about $10 less per ball ($39.99 v. $49.99 for the Solution.) The Wilson Solution is the official ball of the NCAA - the Baden is used in some FIBA international competitions.
The PIAA requires all teams to use its "official" ball during posteason competition, but teams may choose to use other balls that meet regulation specs during the regular season. The Aces will use the new ball from the start with the hope that they'll be better prepared for another playoff run.