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Is time right for Indiana to institute a shot clock?


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When Danny Brown played basketball for Jennings County High School, the Panthers led the state in scoring his final two years.

When Brown moved on to the University of Louisville, the Cardinals averaged 85 points a game. So naturally, Brown has been an up-tempo coach in his years of leading the Columbus East girls.

“I’ve always kind of halfway kidded that, from my background, I’ve always advocated that we go with a 10-second shot clock and one referee,” Brown joked.

A 10-second shot clock won’t be coming to high school boys or girls basketball anytime soon, but a longer shot clock could be used down the road.

“I’d definitely be for it, somewhere along the range of 35 to 45 seconds,” Brown said. “To speed up the game a little bit, I’m always in favor of that. I would imagine in the mindset of Indiana, it would be, ‘We have the best basketball, why change it?’”

Twenty-six years have passed since the last major rule change in high school basketball. The 3-point line was instituted for the 1987-88 season.

But is Indiana ready for a shot clock?

“I think kids and coaches would adjust accordingly to the rules,” Columbus North boys coach Jason Speer said. “(A shot clock) might be something of interest for the fans, but I think if you’re going to look at something such as the shot clock, it might be something you look at such as extending the length of the floor or to 20-minute halves.

“I think what would have to be very clear would be what the purpose of the shot clock was,” he said. “I don’t know why they implemented it in college or the NBA. I assume it was to make it more exciting.”

East boys coach Brent Chitty said he wouldn’t be a fan of the addition of a shot clock.

“I think as you’re teaching kids the game, you put that shot clock in there, it tends to speed kids up a little bit,” Chitty said. “It’s great to be able to play fast, but sometimes that factor when you’re younger, it’s nice to be able to keep the timing pace out of it and work on fundamental things.

“I like for kids to be able to play the game and not be in a hurry to shoot,” he said. “I like to encourage kids to play more as a team. I think sometimes, a shot clock takes that out of it.”

North girls coach Pat McKee used to coach travel basketball teams that would play a deliberate style in certain situations or games. But McKee doesn’t think that style would be an advantage for the Bull Dog teams he’s coached to an 86-14 record in four years.

“With a team like we have right now, I’d say we’d be in favor of (a shot clock) because the more possessions, the more our talent should separate and allow us to succeed,” McKee said. “Just tell me what the rules are, and we’ll play within them, and we’ll work as hard as we can to use them as best we can.”

McKee has coached in high-level travel-team tournaments that featured a shot clock when they used college women’s rules.

“It takes a lot of talent to hold the ball and be methodical, too,” McKee said. “Every team is different, and you have to do what works for you.”

Sandra Walter, an IHSAA assistant commissioner who oversees girls basketball, said a shot clock was discussed at the National Federation of High Schools’ summer meeting but not approved.

Eight states have adopted the use of a shot clock. But Walter said if a state association goes against a national federation role, the state forfeits its spot on the rules committee.

“We are not inclined to go against the federation,” Walter said.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever surveyed our coaches, and that’s where we start with any process,” she said. “We’ve been pretty tied up in class basketball issues. My personal feeling is that at the high school level, if you implement the shot clock, you’re speeding up the game, and that creates an issue of forced shots, and you see enough of that.”

Then, there’s also the logistical issue of adding shot clocks above the baskets at each end of the floor and a shot clock operator to scorer’s table. McKee said it would take time to train people to be able to run a shot clock.

“Just the expense of installing shot clocks would be a factor that would be limiting,” McKee said. “It’s not something that’s going to come real quick because of multiple reasons — expense and extra people — and I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”

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