In 1992, I wrote a book about the future of basketball in our country. “Basketball 2000” took an in-depth look at what I thought would be some major changes in the game by the turn of the century.
We spent a lot of time researching the history and use of the shot clock in our country.
My wife Shelly and I viewed hundreds of hours of video with teams employing the shot clock. Our findings indicated that few teams employed the shot clock — especially college teams — to its fullest use.
The biggest violators were men’s college hoop squads who operated under the guidelines of a 24-second shot clock rather than the time they had.
The exceptions were the schools like Princeton, which found a way to milk every second of its allowed possessions, and, consequently, used that technique as part of its offensive philosophy.
I’m suggesting today that University of Maine men’s basketball coach Ted Woodward and his coaching staff in Orono should consider doing the same thing.
The irony of the shot clock is this: Most teams play it as if it were a shorter clock, and by doing so, they put themselves in harm’s way against the better opponent.
Thirty-five seconds is a long time, my friends.
Shelly and I timed all these games, and even colleges like Princeton and high schools like John Bapst, who played without a clock and were very patient in their offenses, the average time of possession was 29 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly.
Consider that, then consider a program trying to find its way in the world with a secret weapon like ball control.
That type of philosophy excites me, especially if it’s combined with a philosophy of bringing in the best players Maine has to offer.
I admire Ted for stepping up and bringing in Maine kids. This year, the loss of post player Jordan Cook to illness was devastating. Next year, the loss of Mark Socoby could do further damage to the program as well, even with a healthy Cook. If a Princeton-like system came on board early, the neutralization of all that could be amazing.
On the defensive end, our “Basketball 2000” research found that zones and half-court traps aided the overall slow-down philosophy.
With a 35-second shot clock in place, coaches have to decide how they will run their teams. But treating the clock like it’s a 24-second clock puts the underdog in harm’s way most nights. And that’s never a good thing.
I challenge Ted and his Black Bears to have a gimmick in the system, thus giving them an equal shot at victory.
30-Second Time Out
As Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and surprising Villanova head to the men’s Final Four this upcoming weekend in Detroit, I was proud again to see CBS broadcaster Len Elmore, a former University of Maryland star, in the broadcast booth throughout the course of the tournament.
I got to know Len a little bit in 1976, as I had the privilege to work with him at a camp at Maryland.
Elmore, a lawyer by trade, is in his 19th year in the broadcasting booth, and he has held several prestigious positions, including the presidency of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.
When Clark Kellogg, a former Ohio State hoops standout, got the lead analyst job in the booth with Jim Nance, I was hoping Len would move up to the studio position, but he didn’t.
Elmore remains one of the classiest guys on the job, and former Hampden Academy boys coach Norm Prouty and I had a grand old time rubbing shoulders with guys like Elmore, former Maryland assistant and Maine native Joe Harrington, and head coach Lefty Driesell.