Shot clock debate picks up tempo in Colorado

Column by Jim Benton
Posted 3/27/18

Does high school basketball need a shot clock? Would it help or hinder prep games? Let the longstanding debate resume. It’s been a hot topic for years. USA Basketball and the NBA on March 20 …

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Shot clock debate picks up tempo in Colorado


Does high school basketball need a shot clock?

Would it help or hinder prep games?

Let the longstanding debate resume. It’s been a hot topic for years.

USA Basketball and the NBA on March 20 announced a set of age-specific guidelines, and one of the recommendations was a 24-second shot clock for boys and girls in grades 9-12.

The National Federation of State High School Associations has a rule that shot clocks are not allowed.

California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, Rhode Island, North Dakota and South Dakota do use 30- to 35-second shot clocks, but those states forfeit their chance to have an input into the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, which is one of the reasons the Colorado High School Activities Association is reluctant to add shot clocks.

So unless a national rule is passed, it could be a while before Colorado teams will have to shoot the ball before the 24-, 30- or 35-second time limit.

“The latest stats show that nearly 65 percent of the states did not want it (shot clock),” said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann. “I have had conversations with folks in several states that have the shot clock. They like it but stop short of saying it makes the game better. It’s a different game.”

According to CHSAANow.com, the NFHS considers adopting the shot clock every year, and a survey prior to the 2017 rules committee meeting stated that 57 percent of coaches were in favor of a shot clock, 39 percent against and 4 percent had no opinion. More than 6,000 coaches across the nation responded, including 357 from Colorado.

State associations were against using a shot clock with 62 percent holding that position, compared to 34 percent in favor and 4 percent having no opinion.

The NBA has a 24-second shot clock and college basketball a 30-second shot clock.

“I think we are ready for the shot clock,” said ThunderRidge coach Joe Ortiz. “Thirty or 35 seconds would be best.”

The biggest con against adoption is the price and installation of a shot clock, which could range from between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on whether the clock is attached to the scoreboard or backboard.

Some schools with older scoreboards might even need a new one, which could be costly. And schools would need to find competent people to operate the shot clock.

Pros include getting players ready for the next level, preventing stalling tactics, increasing the pace of games and possibly forcing teams to shore up on defensive tactics.

Highlands Ranch coach Mike Gibbs would be supportive of the change to a shot clock but said games would be more sloppy with more mistakes; the shot selection would be questionable; passing, finishing and decision-making would be a concern for non-athletic teams; and scoring could be up or down depending on the player’s skill levels.

“We would have some challenges, that’s for sure, because not many student-athletes today truly have the basketball IQ to play up-tempo,” said Gibbs. “In addition, proper skill development from youth to high school would be vital for success.

“I have personally watched games in California at the high school and national AAU tournaments. What I have observed over the years: Teams are certainly playing faster, but the total scoring is very similar to Colorado without a shot clock during the official high school season.”

It is probably just when and not if a shot clock rule is implemented.

“It would be a great thing because that’s the way the game is played now,” said former Highlands Ranch coach Bob Caton, who now coaches at Mullen. “I would be in favor of it because you get the kids juiced to the play the game at a different tempo. You could see some pressing going on because you would press not so much to steal the ball but to keep the other team from getting into their offense real early.

“If you watch games, even the teams that play conservatively, usually a shot goes up before 30 seconds or balls are getting thrown away. It might give them more of a mindset that they have to do it.”

Castle View girls coach Matt Hema said the use of a shot clock might affect girls basketball more than boys.

“It would not change the boys game much except late in games when a team has an 8-10 point lead,” he said. “It would change the girls game a lot and keep the pace of play going and eliminate those coaches and teams that want to play slow and stall with leads.

“I think they should implement the shot clock. I don’t see it ever getting implemented on a national scale. I think they will leave it up to the high school organizations and I would be surprised if the CHSAA ever implemented this.”

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton, Colorado high school sports, shot clock


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