June 20, 2018
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Maine high school basketball should use a shot clock

By Bob Cimbollek, Special to the BDN

The shot clock was first introduced into basketball in the NBA in the 1950s to speed up the game and to make it more exciting. After all, the NBA is entertainment.

The time limit was set at 24 seconds and has remained that in the NBA. The NCAA also added a shot clock and now it’s also used for high school basketball in several states. Our neighbor to the south, Massachusetts, has had a shot clock for several seasons: 30 seconds for both boys and girls games.

The practical advantages are several. Playing without a shot clock in high school is like having a pitcher in high school baseball throw from 55 feet and then go to college and throw from 60 feet. The shot clock would prepare players for the college game.

The shot clock would also speed up the game and eliminate teams from holding the ball after getting a lead or trying to get a team out of a zone defense. It would improve team defenses as teams would only have to work hard for 30 to 35 seconds per possession.

The biggest disadvantage of the shot clock would be the cost. A good system would cost around $2,000. Then schools would have the added expense of paying someone to operate the shot clock. Schools with two freshman, two junior varsity and two varsity teams with nine home games each would see an increase in their yearly basketball budgets of $25 a game for a cost of $1,385 a season.

One way to help with the costs might be to ask school booster clubs to pay for the shot clock and then for its operation or get volunteers.

Another major disadvantage of the shot clock is that it would be harder for lower-ranked teams to pull major upsets or win championships because of the shot clock. Offenses would have to give the ball up every 30 seconds, which would allow their opponents with more talent to have many more offensive possessions.

The time should follow the college format of 30 seconds for girls games and 35 seconds for boys games. This would aid the transition for players from high school to college.

Adding the shot clock could be easily implemented by the Maine State Basketball Commission, which could recommend it to the MPA Basketball Committee and then to the MPA membership for a vote.

Officiating college and prep school basketball shows that shot-clock violations usually are not a factor as far as teams violating the rule. Teams can make huge comebacks because of the 3-point shot and the shot clock.

I have always favored a shot clock. I know this is in direct conflict with the majority of my past coaching styles, as I usually preferred a very slow, deliberate game, when my teams did not have the talent of my opponents. However, that was because the rules allowed for that and it was much easier to pull upsets and win state championships against more talented teams. Our shot time possessions usually averaged around 35 seconds unless we were deliberately holding the ball to get teams out of zone defenses.

How do you as a player, coach, official or fan feel about a shot clock for Maine high school basketball? Please take a minute to vote in the BDN’s online poll.

Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and former high school and college basketball official.

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