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Shot clock rewards D, increases game thrill


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I picture the shot clock in basketball like a bigger version of the alarm clock that sits next to your bed.

OK, there are some complexities. The shot clock has to be connected to a backboard, which has very large, young men, and sometimes women, rattling with dunks.

The shot clock also has to be connected to an on-off switch at the official scorer’s table.

While that alarm clock next to your bed might have cost $9.99 at the local drug store, shot clocks are not so cheap. A little online shopping produced prices over $2,000 for a pair. I guess the demand isn’t there.

Then again, this might be more like the government buying a $185 hammer.

Perhaps we could make the price drop if high schools would follow the lead of college basketball and the NBA by adopting a shot clock. About a million kids played high school basketball last year. They would be selling a whole lot more shot clocks.

Alas, last year the National Federation of State High School Associations rejected a uniform rule requiring a shot clock. Currently eight states, California, Maryland (girls only), Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington, use shot clocks at the high school level.

One of the main reasons listed for not adopting such a rule is cost.

At a time when school districts are dropping sports and extracurricular programs due to a lack of funding, the schools don’t need another required cost. However, it would seem that Indiana schools are in better shape as compared with other states, even though times are tough all over.

Let’s say a shot clock has a life of 10 years. At $2,000 per pair, that’s $200 a year. Here in Indiana, I think we could make that work. Other states, perhaps not.

Certainly, whether the game is better with a shot clock involves personal preference. The NBA and college basketball figured out that they could draw a lot more fans if a player wasn’t allowed to stand around midcourt holding the basketball under his arm while the clock ticked away.

Covering my first high school basketball game here in Indiana, I watched as two guards tossed the ball back and forth just inside the midcourt line, kind of like a father-son game of catch in the backyard with a baseball.

After this continued for about 30 seconds, I started looking around for the shot clock. I looked at the backboard then scanned both end lines, the big scoreboard above and the scorer’s table. Geez, do the officials have a stopwatch?

Then I realized, I had just moved from California, which uses a 35-second clock for boys and a 30-second clock for girls (I guess girls mature faster). Indiana does not.

I understand the “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” theory. High school basketball is exciting whether the state has a shot clock or not. That is one of the reasons more high schools play basketball than any other sport.

Just keep in mind that a shot clock makes things a little more fun. Essentially, it just takes out the stalling aspect and rewards defenses for a terrific effort on a possession. A team that doesn’t get off a shot that touches the rim within the specific amount of time turns it over.

Change can be difficult. High school wrestling once had “riding time,” which essentially rewarded a wrestler for stalling. Riding time was eliminated, and wrestlers were forced, by tweaking the rules, to be more aggressive. It made the sport better and more exciting.

I would like to see high school basketball follow suit.

Sure the game has been playing this way for many years, but, once, we also played football in leather helmets.

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