Opinions differ on shot clock

On the surface, the new shot clock in Class AA high school basketball has seemed to have little impact on the game. At least judging from Mitchell High School's boys' games, the shot clock has rarely approached 10 seconds, and seldom has expired....

Shot clock new to AA this year
Leah Rado/Republic Mitchell's Brett Victor (55) goes up for a layup as the shot clock winds down Friday night during a game against Pierre at the Corn Palace. A 35-second shot clock was added in Class AA boys' and girls' basketball this season, and coaches have mixed feelings about whether its addition has helped or hindered basketball games.

On the surface, the new shot clock in Class AA high school basketball has seemed to have little impact on the game.

At least judging from Mitchell High School's boys' games, the shot clock has rarely approached 10 seconds, and seldom has expired. And judging from feedback the South Dakota High School Activities Association received from Class A and Class B schools that have used the clock in various in-season tournaments or classics, most coaches felt the clock had little impact on the game.

But that doesn't mean everybody is on board with the idea. Mitchell boys' coach Gary Munsen is one who would just as soon not see a shot clock in high school basketball.

"I don't know if I agree with the shot clock," Munsen said. "If it was a big thing, why doesn't the whole United States do it? If I'm not mistaken, there are only a few that have it. South Dakota is usually backwards in everything before they get everything done."

South Dakota is one of only eight states that use a shot clock in high school basketball, though Class AA is the only one of the three classes that uses it in all regular-season games. Munsen's objections have more to do with end-of-game situations than they do with speeding up the game.


"It leaves coaches limited to a certain extent what they can do; how much time they want to take off the clock, and do they want to get on the foul line," Munsen said. "There are a lot of different variations in what you want to do. Now it's up to the players on floor because you only have five timeouts. You try to save some for the end of the game, but a lot of times you end up using them up throughout the course of the game."

Most proponents of the shot clock have actually cited Munsen's reasoning as one of the major reasons a shot clock is needed. A shot clock prevents the leading team from running minutes at a time off the clock in the closing minutes, giving the other team a chance to get back in the game.

Wayne Carney, executive director of the SDHSAA, said he actually has yet to receive any feedback from AA coaches on the new shot clock, which, following the assumption that no feedback is good feedback, would seem to be good news for the state. The state does poll Class A and B coaches who used the shot clock in midseason tournaments, and Carney said almost all said the clock had either no effect or a positive effect on the game.

"To say there was not any negative feedback would be a stretch, but when you have that many games, there is bound to be some disagreement," Carney said.

Mitchell girls' coach Wes Morgan is among a group of coaches who said the clock has had little effect on the game. Still, given the choice, he would rather have the shot clock.

"I think it speeds the game up," said Morgan, who estimated his team has had about two violations all year. "It's a better game to watch. You don't have a team that can't score try to stall."

But stalling is an option Munsen would like to have. It's not something he wants to use all the time -- his teams have played up-tempo for the last two years -- but at the end of the quarters and halves, he would like to be able to hold the ball a bit longer to get the last shot, something that has always been unique to high school basketball -- until now.

"At our level of basketball, if we're up by five or six, I'm going to hold the ball for the last 50 seconds or a minute of a quarter to see if we can get a shot," Munsen said.


Again, that type of strategy was one of the reasons for adding the clock, with the hope that it would create more possessions, speed up the game and increase scoring. Munsen questions whether it has really done that.

"People said it would increase scoring," Munsen said. "To me it hasn't, at least not in the ESD (Eastern South Dakota Conference)."

Actually, scoring has increased about 4.5 points per game statewide, jumping from 51.8 last year to 56.3 this year in boys' AA basketball. But those numbers could be a bit deceiving, based largely on a number of teams that saw huge jumps. Sioux Falls O'Gorman is up 21.2 points per game from last year, while Sioux Falls Washington and Sioux Falls Lincoln are both up about 17 points per game.

Only four of the 17 AA boys' teams are scoring fewer points than they did last year, but Munsen was right about the ESD. Scoring is up less than a point per game in the ESD.

No matter how coaches feel about the shot clock, it's likely not going away anytime soon. Schools that didn't already have shot clocks in place, like Mitchell did at the Corn Palace, had to pay thousands of dollars to have them installed.

"The shot clock is here, so you just have to adjust to it," Munsen said.

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