The NBA has used the shot clock since the 1950s and the colleges abide by a 30-second shot clock, for high school basketball it’s a wild west of possessions that can see a score end 5-4 if they wanted. In today’s game of up and down offense, you don’t see it too much, but you do see the stall game work its way into today’s game.
The Arkansas Activities Association received permission from the NFHS to use a 35-second shot clock for Class 6A games next year as run for the next three seasons.
Many want a shot clock. It’s what they are accustomed to when watching Kansas, Kansas State or Wichita State basketball play. There are a lot of hurdles to get said shot clock. Arkansas has been using a shot clock for non-postseason tournaments for two seasons now. The transition to the full season shot clock seemed to be all but inevitable.
What about Kansas? Where does the shot clock fit into our game that we dearly love?
You get situations where teams run four-corners and stall out the game, draining the clock until either the defense steps up and forces the ball out of the handler’s hands or the team scores.
Nine other states currently have a shot clock implemented - Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island, North and South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and California.
"I think for our game in South Dakota, it’s helped make it more fun," Assistant Executive Director Joe Auch said. "We’ve had little to no complaints since we’ve implemented the shot clock."
The state of South Dakota had been using the shot clock in their largest class for two seasons before adding it to the entire state. The SDHSAA uses a 35-second shot clock at all levels.
"We had some stall tactics and some low scoring games," Auch said. "It’s been a breath of fresh air having the shot clock. Games are higher scoring; coaches are finding new ways to win games and fans are enjoying it. It’s a win all around."
While statistics are boring, the Butler County Times-Gazette re-watched 10 basketball games via the NFHS Network and the average possession within those games was 36.5 seconds. The only time the possession drew longer was in the final minutes of the game when the score difference was within 10. Possessions that were off a basket and not a foul or turnover, were on average 22 seconds long.
Andover, a team that had been known for pace and threes, held the ball up top for 30 seconds on multiple possessions in the fourth quarter, before initiating its offense. BV Southwest used the stalled offense to get back into the game. Andover would eventually prevail over BV Southwest.
"Sometimes the defense doesn’t let you do the things you want to do," Andover head coach Martin Shetlar said after his team’s first-round win over Blue Valley Southwest in the Class 5A State Tournament.
For a majority of the season, the Trojans averaged under 20 seconds per possession for the first half 32.5 seconds in the second half on games available via NFHS Network.
When the game entered the fourth quarter, possessions for the winning team increased by six seconds and the trailing team decreased by five seconds. The rush to beat the clock when trailing had an obvious effect on how the trailing team operated their offense due to them not having a potential opportunity of never seeing the ball again if the opposing team wanted to stall.
There are coaches who support the shot clock, however it may come about.
"Basketball is fun for people to watch and for kids to play because it is a fast pace game," Andover Central head coach Stana Jefferson said. "Let’s keep it moving and for the kids moving on to the next level."
When the Butler County Times-Gazette re-watched four of Andover Central’s games, the Jaguars averaged 29 seconds per possession when you excluded fouls and turnovers.
There are some major hurdles when it comes to getting prepared and implementing shot clocks before you even consider the materials and installation. You have to get labor first and foremost and find those who are competent enough to run a shot clock.
There are typically 3-4 workers at a table. You have your scoreboard operator, who sometimes manages the game clock as well; the official scorebook; public address announcer; and sometimes there will be a person solely responsible for the start and stop of the game clock.
The latter is tough to find. While at bigger schools you may see it, you don’t see it at smaller schools, such as Flinthills where the book runs the scoreboard, too. The PA will run the game clock. Now, you’ll have to find a third person to run a shot clock.
"There are always passionate people who love sports and want to be involved," Auch. "You have to properly vet they are capable enough and as educators and administrators, that’s what we do every day. It would be no different in this sense."
In Maryland, they have been using a shot clock for some time and as one reporter put it, give people credit. That’s fine in Maryland to find competent people. However, what about a 1A school when they have a different clock operator every game? Even at El Dorado, a 4A school, they split scoreboard operators during tournaments this season.
"Outside of our first season with the shot clock, we have not had many complaints about errors in their use," Auch said. "We put out a crash course for officials and table workers."
When an official has to stop, reset the shot clock and put or take off time, those seconds add up to minutes and we have not begun to add it into other functions of the game.
The cost might be the most prohibiting thing to KSHSAA adopting a shot clock. While the shot clocks themselves start just over $5,000, on the personnel side, that can add up.
Andover Central pays their table workers $20-25 per game and typically will do 3-4 games on game night. When you break that down to add in a shot clock operator as Andover Central runs three at their scorer’s table, with nine regular season home games, that is almost $2,900 to pay your table workers.
Then, finding someone competent enough to run the shot clock. It has to be hit at the right time and not early or reset late. The delays could push a game beyond the anticipated ending time.
When it comes to adding the shot clock, your initial costs shoot sky high. There are plenty of questions that have to be answered: What type of shot clock? Is the scoreboard that is currently installed compatible with the shot clock? The venue, layout, installation, and wiring are also things you have to consider when you plan to install a shot clock.
"The up-front cost was not nearly a concern as you would think," Auch said. "Daktronics worked with us on the pricing as the entire state was installing them at the time."
According to a sales representative with Daktronics, the estimated starting cost for two shot clocks for the main gym is around $6,000. Then, if your gym is not compliant with the shot clocks and you have to re-wire or add a new scoreboard, your local school could end up adding an additional $6,000. This does not include the school’s secondary gymnasium. Pricing would double in that case. All but one school in Butler County utilizes multiple gyms when hosting a varsity night.
When it comes to implementation of the shot clock, there is more than just cost and concern within the schools, the state association has to look out for themselves. When you implement the shot clock, you lose your seat on rule committees. As for South Dakota, they can make recommendations, but they cannot serve on those rule committees.
"Every year there are proposals on the shot clock," Auch said. "It’s something we sacrificed for our game."
While you are not on those committees, associations can still recommend certain rule changes.
If you ask some athletic directors, there are bigger things to worry about than the shot clock for the state of Kansas.
"I’d rather see the block/charge circle under the basket before a shot clock," Augusta Athletic Director Travis Olive said.
Kansas isn’t getting the shot clock next season and probably not any time soon if the votes keep coming up negative. However, state adoption is the way to go. With the NFHS voting each year to give each state their adoption of rules, that would be the entry for Kansas to allow classes to use the shot clock.
"The rabbit hole of allowing states to adopt their own rules opens up a pandora’s box of issues," Auch said.
That could give states their ability to adopt any sort of rules, really changing the game of basketball and not only the shot clock.
While Kansas continues to make their decision, the rest of the nation presses on. While what they do may be best for their state, the question continues to loom: is this what is right for Kansas?