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Friday night basketball: Columbus North 61, Columbus East 51 (Final score).

Shot clock needed motive?


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As sports columnists, we’re kind of like the plumber who draws up NFL plays at home and sends them to Bill Belichick.

When looking through our eyes, solutions seem so simple.

But sometimes you wonder if solutions really are that simple.

I’ve covered high school basketball in Indiana for two seasons now. Having covered the sport for many years in California, which has a shot clock, I’ve got to say that the basketball isn’t all that much different.

Why is that?

In the two seasons I have covered basketball here, I have seen a full-out stall tactic just once, earlier this season by Columbus East coach Brent Chitty. His team, which had the lead, ran four minutes off the clock before attempting a shot just before halftime.

I haven’t covered games in Evansville, Fort Wayne or various other spots around the state, so perhaps I just haven’t come into contact with a coach who embraces the full-out stall that is allowed by rule. In general, though, when covering basketball in this area, it simply doesn’t exist.

I don’t get it.

Forty-two of our 50 states don’t have a shot clock, so you would think high school coaches, especially on teams that are overmatched, would be practicing some stall tactics every day in practice. It just makes sense.

It also makes sense for teams facing a packed-tight zone defense where four guys stand in the paint and one is left to chase the ball around. When the team with the ball has a big lead, it makes the stall very attractive.

Yet, wherever I go, whatever team I cover, it seems that instead of pulling back and running time off the clock, teams attack the zone.

That’s a great thing if you have Yogi Ferrell to penetrate off the dribble. Unfortunately, most teams don’t have a Ferrell on the roster.

Passing in to a guy who will be immediately triple-teamed doesn’t make a lot of sense. That’s what the defensive team wants you to do.

Now if your team can knock down a bevy of 3-pointers, the conversation becomes moot. Of if you are behind, that changes everything as well. You might be forced to attack.

But if you have a double-digit lead, why not stall?

I once covered the state junior college basketball playoffs in California where the local team I covered was stocked with talent. All five starters were headed to a higher level the next season.

That team lost to a well-disciplined squad that annoyed them into submission with stall tactics (there was no shot clock). They cracked.

Imagine if your team has a 10-point lead and it runs six of the eight minutes off the clock in the third quarter before taking a shot. That’s got to drive the opponent crazy. It’s also going to force a team to extend its defense and open up the floor.

In theory.

Perhaps my line of thinking is just plain dumb. What do you think?

I admit I love the shot clock. It prevents stalling and makes the game more exciting. It’s more exciting for the kids who play and for the fans.

That’s most likely the reason coaches, who are allowed to do so by rule, don’t practice more stalling tactics, because it isn’t a whole lot of fun for the players to stand holding the ball near midcourt. The games are short enough as they are.

We all know fans would hate it if the scores were 18-14 and 22-17.

A bunch of those type of games, though, might cause more states to adopt a shot clock.

Then I can draw up something different on my napkins, like why have centers gone away from the hook shot?

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at jheater@therepublic.com or 379-5632.

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