It is a question harder to kill off than Wolverine or Marvel sequels in general. Should high schools incorporate a shot clock for basketball? Many yearn for it, support it, and the reasons aren’t bad really. They see or coach or play in leagues that have them. The pros have them. Colleges have them. To not have a shot clock seems archaic to supporters. Perhaps it is.
But, I have looked really hard at the question and can’t find any evidence suggesting a need for one. In other words, the high school game (in Kentucky) seems to produce much faster and high scoring games than it’s college peers. And I suppose people like me (and there are a few) can’t figure out why anybody would want to make the more offensive game look more like the less offensive game? It would be like telling your most effective teacher to be like a less effective teacher just because the less effective one is more popular with the kids.
Still, if we do want to pull the trigger on the shot clock, I think we should at least do some actual research. You know, ask some serious questions, form some hypotheses, find some data…that kind of stuff. And so I’d like to present a few research possibilities and then challenge anyone, supporter or opponent, to do the work and show what you find. Nine states now have a shot clock in some form, so the answers to many of the questions should be pretty easy to find. I spend most of my time trying to run a school district, so sadly, I can’t get too far beyond basic Google searches.
So, here we go….
-Do shot clocks in fact increase flow and pace? I am not sure exactly how to begin with this one. I suppose a 30 or 35 second shot clock guarantees (not counting fouls and offensive rebounds) that nobody can hold the ball in one end of the court for longer than the clock allows. But do high school teams currently do so? I did a case study once of one particular game and found that of the 120 or so possessions only a handful lasted longer than :30. So my guess is this is mostly an anecdotal if not completely imaginary issue. I could be wrong.
-Do shot clocks increase offensive efficiency? That is one argument I have heard. It makes people not waste time and effort. I find the opposite to be true. Watching college offenses it almost feels like the intent is to whittle the clock down, but perhaps I am wrong again. And to me, efficiency should be easily seen in shooting percentages, scoring per possession, effective shooting percentages, etc. We should be able to mine some data here that would work. Anecdotally, Penn State beat Indiana yesterday 61-58 in a forty minute college game. Is that efficient or no? Of the 21 games played in mens’ competition, it was not an anomaly. Only 12 of the 21 winners broke 71 in regulation. Only 4 of the 21 losers did. Great defense I suppose. Meanwhile on December 30 (last full day of competition before the break) Kentucky boys had 79/92 winners brake 57 (point per minute equivalent). That includes twelve 80 point games and one 99 point barrage. 37/92 losers broke 57 and one game saw a final of 84-80. Bad defense I guess.
- -Do players who have shot clocks earlier become more astute or better players down the road? In other words, do we see college coaches now flocking to the nine states with the shot clock because they are seeing higher quality players? I have had the good fortune of coaching two DI players and a handful of lower level college players. I have never heard them complain that adjusting to the shot clock was an issue. One player is a 1,000 point, 500 rebound, 100 block college player in a solid program. None of my players were shunned by recruiters because they played in a non-shot clock high school league. But perhaps there is evidence of this elsewhere?
- -One hypothesis from supporters is that players love it. If so, are we seeing an increase in participation in the nine states with a clock? This should be easy to see. Can we show causality in such an increase?
- -Is the push for a shot clock really just another adult issue in which those coaching at the lower levels want to live out their NBA/DI fantasies? Or perhaps those coaching at higher levels feel their version of the game is superior so they want everyone to adapt it? Every coach wants to believe they have the chops to be big time right? I sense a lot of this shot clock business has a lot more to do with adults than kids. Maybe I am wrong. I do feel like there are two kinds of high school coaches. One likes to draw up game winners to prove their acumen. The other likes to work with kids and help them become better people. I will leave it to you to decide which we need more of.
- -Is the shot clock game really more entertaining to watch? The NBA obviously entertains millions. And a shot clock works there because a professional league has as its sole purpose the entertainment of the consumer. But is the college game really easier on the eyes than the high school game? I’d love to find out with some attendance comparisons, maybe some basic surveys. I know big time college wins the attendance battle, but I would guess our high school games have way better attendance than most college games that aren’t on ESPN. I know our district and regional tournaments are usually packed to the gills and the Kentucky State tournament outdraws just about every college basketball event with a handful of exceptions. The 2019 (Last to be played at full capacity). boys tournament drew an average of 12,000 per session. The OVC bragged about setting a new attendance record for a session at just over 10,000 for example. Perhaps shot clocks have little to do with entertainment or interest in the game? perhaps not.
-Do shot clocks become even more necessary in elimination games? I wrote a piece based on college conference tournaments (many mid-major elimination type events) and high school regional tournaments. Here were my results. Maybe someone can do something more extensive?
-As an opponent to the clock, I have long hypothesized that the clock actually slows the game and homogenizes it. In other words, if you have seen one shot clock game, you have probably seen them all. I believe we have seen a significant decrease in pressure full court defense, zone defense, and transition offense. I have written about it. Again, maybe we could compare these things in the nine states who have shot clocks and the states that do not and include college as well?
Maybe there are more questions out there to answer, but these would be a good place to start. In any event, it would be wise to actually do the research and answer the questions before we allow anecdote and obvious logical fallacy to allow us to make changes we may not need.