I love basketball. I love seeing a group of five players working as a team to defeat another team working together. I love seeing the ball get passed to the open guy, playing the right way instead of jacking up a shot with a hand in your face. I love teams that box out when they rebound and try to start a fast break. I love it when that free throw swishes through the net.
What I don’t like are missed free throws, poor risks on defense, oh, and the fact that high school has no shot clock to regulate the game.
Here is why it bugs me just a little bit. In football there is a play clock that tells the offense how long they have before there is a penalty and a loss of five yards. You can’t sit on the ball for all 12 minutes and run one play to end the game.
Yet, in high school basketball, kids are allowed to do that if they can or want to. One of the most infamous NBA games happened before the shot clock was invented. A game that saw the Fort Wayne Pistons beat the Minneapolis Lakers in November of 1950, 19-18. The shot clock began four years later and it helped the game.
Two years ago, two teams in Alabama finished a game that was 2-0. Yes, 32 minutes of play leading to two points. Why? There was no shot clock and they simply held onto the ball. The coaches cited rest for players, but to see that style of play as a fan, as a photographer or a journalist would be infuriating.
There are pros and cons of using the shot clock for high school play. It would allow potential players who might want to move on to the next level to get used to having a timer on every possession. It would speed up games and stop teams from holding the ball for a minute to work for that perfect look. Yes, getting a great look is a key of the game, but when teams sit on the ball, it just kills the game.
The shot clock would also enable a bigger sense of urgency in bigger games. Knowing that you have 30-35 seconds to get down there and score in a state title game every time would lead to more entertaining contests. Of course if you’re a fast paced team than the shot clock wouldn’t mean too much as it is, but you could run your up tempo style more.
Even a slower paced team can work the clock down to five seconds before getting their look. That leads me into probably the biggest con about a shot clock at the high school level.
It would destroy a lot of chances for not so talented teams to win games. When a less talented team has a chance to upset a better team, a lot of factors have to be brought into effect for it to happen. You can run out and punch them in the face by showing no fear, or you grind that tempo down to a halt, play solid defense, and make enough offensive plays to take the game.
They could still do that, but with a shot clock they would be forced to shoot a bad shot and give momentum away. But that’s basketball. It’s a game of momentum and runs. It’s not hold the ball for a minute and finally take a shot. It’s a fast paced game with those five players working together.
If they NBA hadn’t of used the shot clock who knows what would’ve happened to the league. College basketball finally started to use a shot clock in the 1985-86 season, and went down to the 35 second in the 1993-94 year before moving to the newest 30 second variant.
Could the shot clock be damaging for some teams? Yes, but it would help to improve the high school game all around. Just as it did with the college and professional game.