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Tick, tock

It’s time, we need a shot clock in high school basketball

T

here’s really only one thing to call it — the slowest two minutes in sports. The ending of most high school basketball games are painful to watch. Obviously we’d live in a perfect world if every game came down to the wire, was decided by one possession, but even then, the high school game is flawed. And here’s why, and this is something that needs to be talked about more often among coaches and officials — the absence of a shot clock allows basketball to morph into a different sport if and when a team decides so. If I were a high school coach with a lead in the fourth quarter, whether I was up by one point or 20, I’d run Dean Smith’s four corners. I’ll take it a step further. If I were a high school coach and I thought that my team was more than likely to lose before tip-off, I’d run four corners and go to work on the clock, shorten the game. In 2013, I saw Loudoun Valley and Brunswick’s boys teams play in a Group AA Division 3 tournament quarterfinal to the tune of a 24-22 game. It was fascinating to watch. This spring, in Michigan, Utah and Georgia, stall-ball was the dominant force in their respective state tournaments. Deadspin.com became so interested with the number of teams executing this strategy it became a weekly deal to read about a different state tournament being impacted by one team deciding to dribble a basketball in the corner for seven straight minutes — and that literally happened in Michigan. It’s a strategy for teams that opens up a window against teams they feel like they can’t run up and down the court with. It’s also a strategy to close out a game. And while you can’t fault coaches or players for exploiting that part of the game, you can do something to curtail it by simply putting in a 35, 40, or 45-second shot clock. The easy argument against the shot clock is the implementation of it. Score boards would need replacing or specific units would have to be set up. Okay, I get that’s a pain in the neck. But that’s never stopped football from having a play clock. In lacrosse, when teams try and employ a similar stall-out tactic, the officials are able to call it, send a warning, keep the game flowing. There’s just no reason that high school basketball players can’t adapt to what the collegiate and professional players deal with. And if we know that improves the game and it’s good enough for those latter two, then why not just put one in place. Just about every player is going to excited about the idea of more shots in a game, I promise you that. I mean you don’t need a shot clock in the levels below high school. Have you ever seen a team of 13-year olds or younger take longer than 30 seconds to shoot? It’s never happened in the history of time unless it was coached. Still, while the stall-out tactic is the primary reason we need a shot clock rule in place, selfishly, I want it for an entirely different reason. That slowest two minutes in sports? A team dribbling out a clock? Nope. It’s the team that is down by 15 that decides it’s time to foul its way back into a game and winds up losing by 25. It’s insufferable. It’s not basketball, at that point, the sport becomes some other game — a truly awful free-throw shooting competition. Free throw shooting over the last 20 years has suffered greatly across the board, in college and the pros, but it’s particularly bad at the high school level.

22 :: @scrimmageplay

“That slowest two minutes in sports? A team dribbling out a clock? Nope.” So again, why wouldn’t you start fouling if you’re down by 20 with say, seven minutes to go. What’s to lose? I get it. It’s just that the people in the stands shouldn’t have to suffer through it. And the only way to get around that, is to force the team with the lead to keep scoring, or at least try to score and that’s exactly what a shot clock does. Washington added a shot clock for girls in 1974 and in 2010 for boys. Minnesota did so in 2007. A coaches poll conducted in 2013 in Idaho saw that 61 percent of coaches prefer playing with a shot clock in place. I’d expect that number is about the same, give or take a few points, across the country. If more than half the people teaching the game agree something should be done, then come on. And, at the end of the day, what kid doesn’t enjoy trying to beat a buzzer? What athlete won’t benefit at the next level from getting used to playing with a shot clock? None. And that’s why all of this is stupid. The high school game so obviously needs this done. ✖

Ryan Yemen,

CRE ATIVE EDITOR

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What are your thoughts about putting in a shot clock? ryan@scrimmageplay.com


Volume 8, Issue 6