The women’s basketball team should definitely be able to continue to practice against men. After months of practice against the same teammates everyday, practicing against men mixes things up and gives the women a different level of competition.
Going up against men that are bigger and faster than the women can prepare a team to face upper tier Division I women’s teams with faster, taller and stronger players. Without male practice players, some teams may never know what it would be like to play against a team with a 6’5″ center.
Men’s basketball is naturally more physical than the women’s game. The women would have to play more physically against men to be able to compete against them, which would result in overmatching other woman’s teams in game situations.
Using this season’s Jackrabbit women’s team as an example, they were ravished with injuries early in the season, and at one point, they probably had a hard time fielding a team capable of having 5-on-5 practices because of lack of healthy bodies. Having male practice players come in during a situation like this is great so that those players with injuries can fully heal and not have to be rushed back before they are ready.
Many of the male practice players played in high school, but were not good enough to make a college team or don’t have the time to commit to practice, weight training, etc. This allows them to continue their playing career somewhat by helping make a women’s team better.