Time in: Shot clock inevitable

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The shot clock is coming.

It’s been a hotly-debated topic around Illinois high school basketball for years. Nine states currently have a 35-second shot clock, including California and New York. The NBA first introduced a shot clock in 1954 and the NCAA added one in 1985.

Most states have held off in high school basketball. The Illinois High School Association has never seemed interested in adding the shot clock, but change is coming at the national level.

The IHSA expects the National Federation of High Schools to approve the shot clock in late April or early May, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. The IHSA would then follow the NFHS’ lead. The shot clock would likely debut in the 2019-20 season.

The IHSA surveyed basketball coaches around the state on the shot clock (and many other issues) last month. The coaches were narrowly against the shot clock, 222-221.

After talking to dozens of coaches, it is clear that the vast majority of coaches in the Chicago area are pro-shot clock. Despite the raging debate on the topic, anyone that has actually timed high school basketball possessions (I did it a few times this season) will realize that a 35-second shot clock would very rarely even come into play.

Young coach Tyrone Slaughter is one local coach that has played with the shot clock dozens of times in other states.

“It has had little to no impact based on the way we play,” Slaughter said. “Even back with [Jahlil Okafor] when we weren’t as mobile. Few high school basketball teams I see today play longer than 35 seconds. That is an enormous amount of time on the basketball floor.”

The main issue in the city will be the expense. A study done in Ohio three years ago found that the average cost of installing and running a shot clock is between $5,000 and $10,000. There are more than 100 schools with basketball teams in the city. That means Chicago Public Schools will need to find between $500,000 and one million dollars to implement something that won’t even come into play most of the time.

That’s a foolish waste of money in a city that isn’t even properly cleaning its schools.

“People make a valid argument about the cost and the personnel,” Slaughter said. “But wherever we set the bar, people will get there. There is a way in which to do it. I think we have to, from an organizational standpoint. The national progression is to play with the shot clock.”

Brother Rice coach Bobby Frasor, who played at North Carolina, says he didn’t have an issue transitioning from no shot clock to shot clock basketball.

“Not really,” Frasor said. “For me it was more the frustration on the high school level. It would be annoying to defend successfully for so long and then have a team just pull the ball out. It was boring to play against.”

The shot clock should be better for the fans. Some teams tend to hold the ball when they have the lead, especially in the Public League, to force the opponent out of a zone defense.

The majority of high schools in the area won’t have any trouble affording the shot clock and they will have adults to run it. Expect things to get much messier in the city. I was at a game last year without a working electrical scoreboard, the school simply used a plastic flip-number scoreboard to keep track of things.

“We will be fine at Brother Rice overall, but even with us there is always human error,” Frasor said. “Watching film of a game we lost this season I realized we were shorted a point in the first quarter. This is just something else that can go wrong and there isn’t any video or anything to consult.”

But it looks like the time for debate has passed. Like it or not, need it or not, the shot clock is on its way.

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