SAUNDERS: Time to add shot clock to all levels of basketballThe time has finally come for all high school basketball games to have a shot clock.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
The time has finally come for all high school basketball games to have a shot clock.
Yes, South Dakota Class A and B schools, this means you. At its truest essence, basketball is supposed to be a game of nonstop excitement.
Of course over the years, the game created in Springfield, Mass., has evolved and morphed into a matchup of coaches’ competitive wits. But for fans, no matter which way you slice it, we still enjoy the adrenaline rush we receive from watching the last two minutes of a close game.
I recently had the privilege of covering a Mike Miller Classic game at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, between Our Savior New American of New York and Pierre High School. This was by far one of the most exciting high school boys’ basketball games I have seen in the last five years. In part, because of the 35-second shot clock that was used in this tournament, and as well as Class AA high school games in South Dakota, which is one of eight states that has installed shot-clock rules.
Our Savior New American won that game 84-80 in overtime, and one could argue that there would have never been overtime without the shot clock. With a little more than a minute left, Pierre was trailing by four points, but was able to tie the game after playing good defense and converting buckets on two consecutive possessions.
While many argue that the shot clock does not make a difference in the strategy of the game, I beg to differ.
In Class A or Class B, a team trailing four points with one minute would be forced to foul its opponent and hope for missed free throws to be able to close the gap.
Mount Vernon/Plankinton head coach Eric Denning, a Class A coach whose team does not play games with the shot clock, agreed having a shot clock would make things much more exciting.
“I am in favor in the shot clock,” Denning said. “I don’t think it would be a big change in the game, but I do think it would add another element to the end of the game for the fans.”
The institution of the clock in lower levels, which has been discussed at South Dakota High School Activities Association meetings in recent years, would also put a stop to ingenious coaches halting the game or playing “stall ball” as it is affectionately called. Far too often, coaches sit on the ball in games where there is no shot clock. And who can blame them?
If I were coaching against a team with a big advantage in terms of talent compared to my squad, I would do the same thing to limit their opportunities. After all, a coach’s mission is to win the game at all costs.
But as fans and paying customers, we deserve better.
And it is not the fault of the coaches or players, but it’s the fault of basketball purists who don’t want to change. After all, college basketball didn’t institute a shot clock until 1985.
Or it could also be because in such money-tight times like now, it is not a necessity.
Some believe the greatest hindrance to the implementation of the shot clock at the bottom two levels of high school basketball in the state is money.
Mitchell Christian boys’ basketball coach Dennis Martin, whose team competes in Class B, said he would say yes to shot clocks if he had a vote, but understands that times are hard for schools.
“The con to adding the shot clock is that most schools are going to have a hard time funding it,” Martin said. “I think it’s been avoided at the lower schools, because all school boards are faced with budget concerns.”
While the financial burden school systems face is understandable, most people don’t care. As fans and consumers of the game, we want to see the best show possible and with no shot clock, that is impossible.