Should North Carolina high schools adopt a shot clock for basketball games?
The consensus nationally is “no,” but some voices continue to urge the National Federation of High School Associations to adopt a time limit for a team to hit the rim.
“A shot clock is NEEDED (emphasis his) in high school, and college should have a 30-second shot clock,” Dick Vitale tweeted.
Vitale might seem bombastic to some, but he does know basketball.
That doesn’t make him right on this issue. He’s a bit based. After all, the majority of his coaching experience and subsequent broadcasting career have come from the college and professional ranks, both of which place an emphasis on crowd-pleasing offense.
Arguably, nothing has changed the game of basketball after the days of Naismith and peach baskets more than the NCAA tournament’s expansion, then the introduction of the shot clock and the three-point shot.
Proponents of the shot clock, like Vitale, will point to some notorious examples of slow-down games that lacked any signifiant action until the final minutes.
Case in point: N.C. State 12, Duke 10 in the 1968 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
Radio play-by-play announcer Bill Currie, “The Mouth of the South,” told listeners on the Tar Heel Network: “This game is about as exciting as watching artificial insemination.”
Fans booed. One official sat on the scorers table. Duke players just stood and watched, most of the game, as an N.C. State player dribbled unmolested near midcourt. He passed only when his arm got tired.
Dean Smith, inventor of the Four Corners offense, once had his Tar Heels hold the ball for an entire half against Duke, resulting in a 0-7 deficit at halftime.
Smith argued against a shot clock in college basketball – not because he loved the Four Corners; as a Kansas alum he loved the fast break – but because he believed a slow-down offense offense was the great leveler. A stall like the Four Corners, he said, could give a smaller team without great shooters at least some chance against a taller, more talented team.
“I’m not in favor of the shot clock,” said Chapel Hill girls basketball coach Sherry Norris, who coincidentally watched many of Smith’s Carolina’s teams win with the Four Corners when she was a UNC undergraduate.
“If we go to the shot clock, it will change the game, and schools with less skilled players will always be penalized and not have an opportunity to be as competitive,” Norris said. “The shot clock takes away the coach’s ability to use a slow-down game when their players are less skilled offensively.”
Smith remained steadfastly opposed to the clock until the NCAA rules committee voiced support for the addition of the three-point arc, which, like the slow-down, provided an equalizer for smaller schools.
The National Basketball Association introduced a 24-second shot clock in the 1950s. The NCAA adopted the clock in 1986, 35 seconds for men and 30 seconds for women’s college basketball
The question remains: Why does the high school game need to change?
“It would speed up the tempo of the game. I’d be in favor if that,” Carrboro coach John Alcox said earlier this season.
But most area coaches disagree.
“No shot clock is the beauty of the high school game — just as the shot clock adds strategy to the next two levels,” said East Chapel Hill’s Ray Hartsfield. “High school basketball is the last great bastion of amateurism in our game, and it shouldn’t be touched.”
Hartsfield noted that the time limits of each level – high school (no shot clock), college (35 seconds), and NBA (24 seconds) — correlates with the individual talents of its players. Lesser teams need time to set up offenses, while the very best often need mere seconds to get off a good shot.
The irony may be that while a shot clock might make for more offense, that doesn’t necessarily equate to better offense.
The National Federation of High School Associations has no standard for shot clocks. Only seven states — California, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington — have adopted a shot clock for high school basketball.
According to Maxpreps.com, Only one state with a shot clock, South Dakota, rates among the nation’s top 10 for scoring offense – and it’s 10th. North Carolina is No. 4, with teams combining for an average of 109 points a game. Minnesota and Kentucky are 1-2, with 114 points a game.
The national average winning score in states without a shot clock -- 60 points.
The national average winning score for the states with a shot clock -- 58.5 points.