January 13, 2014 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

Still Waiting for the Shot Clock Rule

by Kevin Hoffman, Managing Editor

Waiting for the shot clock rule in high school basketball reminds me of an old saying amongst us Chicago Cubs fans: there’s always next year.

Each spring, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Basketball Rules Committee meets. And each year I wait with guarded optimism, hopeful that the time has come to interject some long awaited change into the game.

No such luck.

Anyone who has spoken with me knows I’m a big proponent of the shot clock. I understand the argument on both ends and agree with many opposing points of view, but I’m just more engaged in a game with constant action and strategy. I’ve watched too many high school games that almost lull you to sleep with stall tactics, and we’ve all read stories about teams running as much as six or seven minutes off the clock on one possession. That’s not what basketball is about.

The NFHS this spring passed a new rule that allows players on the lane line during free throws to release once the ball leaves the shooter’s hand. It’s a great change that increases the value of effectively boxing out your opponent and it’s expected help officials gain better positioning. The rule will go into effect with the 2014-15 season.

The NFHS also passed measures to eliminate excessive contact on ball handlers outside the lane area — two hands on a dribbler and extended arm bars are fouls — and the organization extended the definition of an intentional foul to address the issue of “contact with the elbow.” All were necessary changes.

Support for the shot clock just wasn’t there this year, but I’m hopeful — cautiously hopeful — because signs show we’re moving in a positive direction. The Northeast Ohio Media Group surveyed basketball coaches within the state, and of those that responded 68 percent wanted a shot clock.

Winning Hoops will conduct its own research this year to begin gathering data on how coaches feel about the state of basketball.

And while I hope to soon see shot clocks mandated across the board, let’s be realistic. Ideally, the rule would pass with implementation set out for two years, because this isn’t something you can do in haste. Doing so would have an adverse effect on the game, players and coaches, irreparably souring everyone’s feelings on using them.

Scoreboards and individual shot clocks cost money, so it’s a difficult sell to school districts laying off coaches to meet their budgets.

And running the shot clock isn’t as easy as it sounds. You can’t pluck a parent or a student out of the stands to manage it when those in the NBA and college can’t even get it right. We can’t have half a dozen stoppages during one game to allow for a reset.

The shot clock has many opponents, and those opponents have reasonable grievances. But instead of closing the door on shot clocks entirely, let’s address those concerns and what we can do to alleviate them. That way, when shot clocks become the law of the land — and it does appear that day will come — we can make sure it’s done right.