February 20, 2014

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

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


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. 

It does not completely eliminate the ability to burn out the clock, it just requires the team with the advantage to use it efficiently and in a more innovative way. The shots you take had better be worth it, as they always should. There's no doubt the team with the basketball always has the upper hand. It is incredibly difficult to steal or foul your way back when a team can just spread out and not worry about shooting or rebounding.

It's time the OSSAA brought the coaches and athletic directors together to prevent this otherwise beautiful game from turning into the version that MacArthur brought to Chickasha, even for three minutes.