(WEHT) – The shot clock, which has traditionally been a fixture in college and professional basketball, might soon be coming to a high school near you.
Last week, the NFHS approved a 35-second shot clock beginning in the 2022-23 season.
The new rule passed isn’t a mandate, and each state can decide whether to approve it.
A shot clock could dramatically change the pace of play in high school basketball, increasing possessions and preventing teams from playing keep away.
But IHSAA Commissioner Paul Neidig isn’t sold.
“The name of the game as always is to win, and if possession control is something you need to do with your team, I really struggle with taking that coaching tool, coaching strategy away from one of our coaches,” Neidig said.
Yet as the game of basketball continues to evolve, Bosse head coach Shane Burkhart believes that stubbornness is holding the state back.
“I believe in my heart of hearts that there are too many people that are loyalists, and want the game to stay as close to what they remember the game to be as possible,” Burkhart said. “And that’s not necessarily how the game is being played today.”
Burkhart’s Bulldogs have traditionally played a fast-paced brand of basketball. But oftentimes, teams will play at a methodical pace to limit Bosse’s possessions.
“It’s not something I like,” Burkhart said. “It’s not something I believe is good basketball. And I don’t believe you’re teaching kids the game of basketball the way it needs to be played at the next level.”
“I don’t know how big of an issue across the state that it is,” Neidig said of the issue. “I see a lot of games every year, and I cannot recall going to a gym and watching an all-out stall by a team. It just doesn’t happen that often.”
Neidig views the slower pace as a strategy – but Burkhart sees it as a crutch. He believes adopting the clock would force coaches to be more inventive in their play calling, and allow the more talented coaches to excel.
“We’re not equal,” Burkhart said. “We get paid equally, but we’re not equal. The scenario behind it is that because we work for the same school system or have the same job, that we’re going to do the same thing. Not true at all. The shot clock could actually show coaching ability rather than just the ability of kids. “
In Kentucky, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said he plans to survey schools to gauge interest. As for Henderson County, head coach Tyler Smithhart said the shot clock would make for a more compelling game.
“I think for fans, I think it can be a great thing for them to, because I think it will encourage more coaches to get up and down a little more, and I think fans enjoy that and want to see that,” Smithhart said.
The cost of installing shot clocks in high schools, as well as recruiting workers to manage them further complicate the issue. That burden would rest squarely on each individual high school’s athletic budget. He said the pandemic has already stretched the Colonels’ athletic budget thin.
“At this point, where we stand, I think cost definitely is a concern,” Smithhart said. “And I think if it wasn’t a concern, there would probably be more support from ADs, for sure.”
Neidig said he is open to the idea of a shot clock if the rule garners majority support in the state.
With eight states already on board, and the rule taking effect in 2022, the clock is ticking.
(This story was originally published on May 19, 2021)