The National Federation of State High School Associations continues to discuss the possible addition of a shot clock to high school basketball on a yearly basis. It continues to shoot it down.
That was the case Monday when the NFHS again rejected a proposal to mandate the use of a shot clock along with another proposal that would allow individual states to adopt a shot clock.
“Information was given to the Basketball Rules Committee that shared the votes in individual states on how coaches and officials voted in support of or non-support of the shot clock rule,” NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Basketball Rules Committee Theresia Wynns said in a news release. “The conversation among the committee members explored the pros and cons of enacting the proposal as a rule for all states and likewise for state adoption. The committee will continue to explore the shot clock issue.”
The NCAA adopted the shot clock in 1985, 31 years after it first came to use in the NBA. High school basketball has largely resisted its implementation aside from eight states – California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington. Wisconsin flirted with the idea in 2017 but never followed through. A handful of other states have also made attempts before retreating.
Still, many coaches, players and especially fans would be in favor of a shot clock.
“I think it’s time,” said Durango High School girls head coach Tim Fitzpatrick, who previously coached the DHS boys and played collegiately at Fort Lewis College. “I definitely would be in favor of it. It would speed up the games a bit. But I see both sides of it.”
The arguments for and against a shot clock have been clear over the last decade. Adding a shot clock could help speed up the game and eliminate stall-ball tactics with teams either standing stagnant with the ball across the half-court line for minutes at a time or with teams simply wasting minutes away by passing the ball around outside the 3-point line in an attempt to evaporate minutes off the game clock.
The cost of adding a shot clock is a minimum of $5,000, and that figure doesn’t include installation, which could bring the total closer to $10,000. Then comes the cost of adding another person, either paid or volunteer, to the scorer’s table to operate the clock.
With nearly 350 schools offering varsity basketball in Colorado, the idea of shelling out more than a combined $3 million to implement a new rule requiring a shot clock doesn’t sit well with already tight education budgets that are even more stressed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A shot clock also would add another element game referees would have to account for, from determining how much time needs to be on a shot clock after a ball goes out of play to many more tough calls on potential buzzer-beating shots.
“I think that’s a big consideration,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t think we need to add anymore stress to the guys and gals officiating high school games. Unfortunately, we are losing people that want to ref anyway because of all the stress that goes into it.”
Teams often play stall ball in an effort to make a game closer against a superior opponent. The idea is to keep the ball out of an explosive team’s hands and try to keep the score low.
“There are times I think that without a shot clock it can make the games a bit closer for teams that may not have the talent or skill to compete with other teams,” Fitzpatrick said. “As a coach, you kind of come up with a plan for that before a game sometimes. I can remember us playing Montrose when I had (Katrina Chandler) playing for me. We went down and held the ball until they came out and set their defense a bit, and then we attacked.”
Still, Fitzpatrick said a shot clock could put the game back into the players’ hands and less in that of the coaches.
Both Fort Lewis College coaches said they would like to see high schools add the shot clock. FLC men’s coach Bob Pietrack made the point that it is no different than football having a play clock.
Especially at the NCAA Division II level, where there are more limits on practice time and teams are not together for months before the season like at the Division I level, the FLC coaches said it can be more difficult for a freshman to enter college and adjust to the pace of play that comes with having a shot clock.
“The majority of freshman players coming in have to adjust to a shot clock,” said FLC women’s coach Orlando Griego, who previously had served as an assistant on Fitzpatrick’s staff with the DHS girls. “I would like to see a shot clock for players to develop clock awareness, increase speed of the game and increase basketball knowledge.”
For now, the debate will continue.