February 20, 2014

Fightin' Words: Bring shot clocks to the high school game, or face anti-basketball


I'll never forget watching the Chickasha girls face Lawton-MacArthur in a tournament matchup earlier this season, but not for a good reason.

The Highlanders had a decent lead, but not enough of one to feel comfortable heading into the final quarter of the game. Chickasha had their moments in the game, and they presented a good threat to come back. I got one of those feelings that the next eight minutes would be some of the best I had written about over the past two days. Oh, how wrong I was.

Because with about three minutes left — and that's a long time in basketball — Mac put four players on the perimeter and passed away the final moments; no shots, no drives, no interest in scoring at all; just screens and passes. It was the most frustrating and annoying way to end a game. There was nothing to write about.

But it's more than that; not fair. There's a reason basketball games go for four quarters, not three and a half if you can afford to waste away the final bits. There is a simple term for the way MacArthur played that game: anti-basketball. The answer to this is a 35 second shot clock.

Who can blame them, though? When a win is on the line and you can use the advantage of possession to the most extreme level, it's a no brainer for a coach. That's why the game at the high school level needs to change. It's one thing to use the clock against your opponent, but it's a complete separate issue to completely abandon the point of basketball to squeeze out a low-scoring, drab, boring win. 

A shot clock will keep the need for expression and creativity in the game. They are skills players will need to hone sooner rather than later if they want to compete at the highest level in college. The NCAA games use a shot clock and it works. 

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