Some Coaches Still Stalling as Shot Clock Gains Favor
By Jim Halley, USA TODAY
Time might be running out on the stall in high school basketball.
While a proposal for a national shot clock was voted down this year by the National Federation of State High School associations, eight states have adopted a shot clock, though doing so puts those state associations out of compliance with NFHS rules and denies those associations a vote on the NFHS basketball rules committee.
"lt seems the interest (in a shot clock) is increasing as opposed to waning," said Mary Struckhoff, an NFHS assistant director and liaison to the NFHS basketball rules committee. "The biggest concern from the committee in voting against a shot clock is the economic climate. If you think all the things that were talked about in the past, such as coaching strategies and pace of play, I feel like the group and some of its constituents are overcoming those concerns."
North Dakota, which had a shot clock for Class A-added it for smaller-enrollment Class B this season. Sherm Sylling, executive secretary of the North Dakota High School Activities Association said a school's cost of adding shot clocks begins at $2,200 for clocks, plus extra pay of a clock operator.
Bentonville, Ark., boys basketball coach Jason McMahan wasn't thrilled with the stalling by Tahlequah, Okla., this season in a 29-25 Bentonville win, but he sees the other side.
"Under the way things are currently structured, with the pressures high school coaches are under, they have no choice sometimes to resort to those low-scoring games to try to win," McMahan said. "What all of us would want is something that takes the decision out of our hands and puts it into the kids' hands and requires them to make plays."
The crucial moment in Hoosiers happens when Jimmy Chitwood holds the ball for what seems like an eternity before scoring the winning basket. The movie is based loosely on the story of tiny Milan defeating Muncie Central 32-30 for the all-class Indiana state title in 1954. Not surprisingly, Bobby Plump, the real-life Chitwood, is against a high school shot clock. "At the level of high school, you don't get the chance to recruit to your system, as you do in colleges or the pros," Plump said. "You have to coach to the talent you're dealt."
Plump said Milan used its cat-and-mouse offense six times that season, culminating in his winning jump shot against Muncie Central that came after he held the ball 4 minutes, 17 seconds.
Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) coach Steve Smith, who has sent more than 20 players to the NBA, concedes that stall ball doesn't have to be boring – to a point. "I saw a (35-33) state championship game in Kentucky in (1983), and it was one of the most exciting games I've ever seen," Smith said. "It was in Rupp Arena, and the gym was packed and it was triple overtime....And it was the little town against the big town. It was a great game to watch...Most slow-down games aren't like that."
State high school associations that allow a shot clock in basketball:
|California||35 seconds||30 seconds|
|Massachusetts||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|NewYork||35 seconds||30 seconds|
|North Dakota||35 seconds||30 seconds|
|Rhode Island||35 seconds||30 seconds|
|South Dakota||35seconds||35 seconds|
|Washington||35 seconds||30 seconds|
|- Source: Individual state high school associations|