Shot clock or no shot clock – that is the question
By: Warren Mayes
Shot clocks will not be coming to high-school boys and girls basketball this season. The National Federation of State High School Associations Basketball Rules Committee has voted to keep the game the way it is, choosing not to mess with a sport that isn’t broken.
The decision was made after evaluating the results of a questionnaire sent to coaches, officials and state association administrators across the country. The responses indicated there was not a strong desire to use the shot clock at the prep level.
But that doesn’t mean area coaches don’t have opinions on the subject.
St. Joseph’s Academy coach Julie Methany said she does not see the need for one at this time.
“We don’t need a shot clock. Our girls can’t hold on to the ball for 15 seconds without wanting to shoot it,” Methany quipped.
Marquette boys coach Shane Matzen said there is no need for a clock in high school basketball.
“The reason we don’t need it is simple – go to a game with a stopwatch and time the possessions,” Matzen said. “I would challenge you to find very many that last longer than 35 to 45 seconds. Ballhandling these days is taught and practiced by players on an individual basis; not like the old days when teams practiced holding the ball for 2 to 3 minutes at a time for strategy purposes.
“Love our game the way it is.”
On the other hand, some coaches would prefer to have it.
Count CBC coach Bob McCormack among them.
“I am in favor of a shot clock to be honest,” McCormack said. “New York and California have it. I just think it makes the game more exciting. It helps with the tempos of the game. I’m for it. I absolute think the game would be better with a clock.”
Lafayette girls coach Jennifer Porter said an experiment with the shot clock would be fine.
“I’m OK without a shot clock, but maybe that’s because it’s how it’s always been,” Porter said. “I would be OK with testing it out in the summer to see if I’d like it or not.
“I’m not sure if it would be better or worse until I’ve tried it. I think a shot clock could promote quick shots and individual play, but maybe over time it would get better once teams are used to it.”
Parkway South Mitch Stevens said he has an open mind about the idea.
“It does not matter either way,” Stevens said. “I think it would be fun to coach in that setting. However, our teams in the past have typically never needed one. We shoot way too fast for that to be a factor.
“With the shot clock, the game would be different but not better or worse.”
In rejecting the shot clock, the rules committee also noted that many schools have budget constraints. Shot clocks would need to be purchased and installed by school districts, and a capable person would have to be found, and paid, to operate the clock at all games.
Schools that play varsity games in two gymnasiums would need to purchase two sets of shot clocks. Older schools might have to replace backboards, too, in order to make them able to accommodate installation of shot clocks.
The committee also “expressed a belief that the game is typically played with an up-tempo style even without a shot clock,” said Kent Summers, director of performing arts and sports at the NFHS. “In addition, the committee believes that coaches should have the option of a slower-paced game if they believe it makes their team more competitive in specific situations.”
A set of shot clocks generally costs between $1,800 and $2,500, according to anthem-sports.com and tomark.com.
“I’m sure the expense was a definite issue,” Porter said. “I think we are seeing a lot of budget cuts and to add extra expenses during these tough times is hard to ask of schools.”
Stevens agreed. “Most schools I know are cutting back and not adding on,” he said.
However CBC planned ahead when the school’s gym was built, McCormack said.
“A lot of things those types of things come down to expenses,” he said. “You don’t want to guess on those things. When we built our school 10 years ago, we put in a shot clock above our backboards. We’re ready for it. I think it will have them at some point.”
Some coaches hope not.
Matzen wants to keep the game like it is.
“I just don’t think it’s needed,” he said.
“I like the game as it is,” Porter said. “I kind of agree that we shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.”