The NBA has a shot clock, and so does college basketball.
It has filtered down to the high school level in states like California and Washington as well.
But in the state of Oregon, still no shot clock.
Why is that?
“The shot clock is actually not allowed at the high school level, per (National Federation of State High School Associations) basketball rules. Most people have no idea that it is illegal. We don’t have it because it’s not allowed by the rules,” said OSAA assistant executive director Cindy Simmons, who is in charge of basketball. “I would never speak for the country on that, but a lot of people feel like the issue at the high school level is that the shot clock so rarely comes into play.
“You could go sit in the stands of any high school basketball game and put a stopwatch on every possession, and the shot clock would very rarely come into play,” Simmons added. “That would be my pretty educated assumption about it.”
In a Statesman Journal survey of all 70 Mid-Valley high school basketball programs, 68.6 percent of head coaches said they support adding a shot clock, while 18.6 percent were against it and 12.9 percent were undecided.
“Every time coaches get together, like at coaching clinics, the majority of high school basketball coaches want a shot clock,” McKay boys basketball coach Dean Sanderson said. “I just don’t think there are a lot of people out there who would say it would hurt the game.”
Consequences for violating the national rule?
As of April 2016, California, Washington, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia have shot clocks for boys and girls basketball, and New York has a shot clock for boys basketball. Minnesota allows a shot clock for nonconference games if both teams agree.
What is the penalty for violating the national federation rules?
“Anytime a state chooses to not play by NFHS rules in any sport, the result of that is they don’t get a voice in the rules-making of that activity,” Simmons said. “People will tell you that’s OK, that’s what they choose to do. Each state has to make their own decision. In Oregon, we abide by NFHS rules. But certainly if our schools want to look at something different, our schools make our rules, that would be treated like any other proposal that comes up.”
Pat Coons, the head of the Oregon Basketball Coaches Association, said that there soon could be an exception made at the national level when it comes to having a shot clock.
“My question is if we’re out of compliance, what does that mean? I mean, why should that matter? It matters in that you’re no longer able to vote on rule changes and be considered for input if you are out of compliance with the national federation,” said Coons, who also is the boys basketball coach at Westview High School. “That is why it is a factor and why you want to be in compliance. However, I would say that there seems to be, and I’ve gotten this feeling the last year, there seems to be more and more leniency toward being out of compliance, as if the national federation is willing to make some kind of exception to the policy that could allow for a shot clock and not be out of compliance.
“I don’t know the technicality on all that, according to the national federation, but that’s somewhat of the impression I’ve gotten,” Coons added. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. It just means that they seem to be considering it more and more because it seems to be coming up with states.”
Cost of adding a shot clock
One of the biggest challenges to adding a shot clock to Oregon high school basketball would be the cost involved.
Not only would there be an installation cost associated with adding the shot clock, but there also would be a need to add a shot clock operator for every game.
“From the athletic director’s standpoint, the first hurdle is the expense hurdle,” McNary athletic director Ron Richards said. “I don’t think the cost is prohibitive. Anything that’s good for kids, we’ll find a way to do. The job of an athletic director is to do what’s best for kids, and to go in the direction of what other coaches would like. If my coaches supported it and convinced me it’s best for kids, then we definitely at McNary High School would be in support of it. If the flip side were true, if we didn’t feel it was best for our kids, then we would be against it.”
Stayton athletic director and girls basketball coach Darren Shryock said there are logistical challenges to adding a shot clock.
“The initial cost, it would be a one-time cost, probably in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, you could get a shot clock implemented,” he said. “But the biggest thing would be the separate operator, really for each gym. So if you have two gyms going, with two games, you would need more people so you could operate the shot clock, and it’s hard to find people.”
Arguments against the shot clock
Shryock said he does not support adding a shot clock at the high school level in Oregon.
“If you put a shot clock in, you’re basically saying to the not-very-talented teams that you have no chance,” he said. “Because the number of possessions would be so high.”
Central boys basketball coach Tim Kreta said he doesn’t see a need for a shot clock in high school basketball.
“Where I am currently in my coaching career, and the way I just love high school basketball, I think that the pure art and the way that we teach the game, when the game is played the right way, I haven’t found that I’ve wanted one in any of the games I’ve been involved in,” Kreta said. “When we started to see some of the up-tempo style of basketball, it kind of loses a little bit of the fundamental approach to playing.”
One game in particular that proponents of the shot clock point to is the 2012 Class 5A girls state championship game, in which Springfield beat Willamette 16-7. But Simmons said that games like that are rare in Oregon.
“That is a textbook example of when people scream about the shot clock,” Simmons said. “But when you think about how many basketball games are played in this state every high school season, and what percentage of games are like that, it puts it into perspective. You can go sit in any high school game, and the ball is just not held, it’s usually shot in a quick amount of time for the most part.”
Shryock said he was a bit surprised by the results of the Statesman Journal survey, which showed that 68.6 percent of Mid-Valley high school basketball coaches support a shot clock.
“That does surprise me a little bit,” Shryock said. “I would have guessed that it would be the fans who would be in favor of it because they want the up-tempo kind of game.”
Benefits of a shot clock
At the Class 6A level, all 12 Salem-Keizer high school basketball coaches said they support the shot clock.
“I think any opportunity we have as high school coaches to steer the game toward the college game, I think it’s better,” Sanderson said. “I really think it will improve the quality of the product we’re putting out there.”
North Salem girls basketball coach Anna Marchbanks, a McKay graduate who played college basketball at Oregon State, said she particularly supports a shot clock in girls basketball.
“The reason why I support a shot clock is because it will pick up the game of basketball,” Marchbanks said. “I think it will challenge girls to make them better. It’ll challenge them to score the ball at a faster rate.”
Coons said that he was surprised that the Statesman Journal survey had just 68.6 percent of coaches supporting it. He estimates that at the state level, that percentage would be even higher.
“The reason why they support it is because they think it matches more of the college game, it adds more excitement, it’s just the direction that basketball is going,” Coons said. “Anything that will put more fans in the stands, make the game more exciting, more interesting should be something that we would do.”
What do players think about the shot clock?
Sprague junior Teagan Quitoriano said he doesn’t have a strong opinion either way when it comes to a shot clock.
“I don’t really have an opinion about it. I just do what I do and control what I can control,” said Quitoriano, who has football offers from both Oregon and Oregon State, but has not yet decided on his future plans. “If we have one, then we’ll have a game plan to have one. If we don’t, then we’ll just play without it.”
South Salem senior Evina Westbrook, who will play college basketball at Tennessee, said she supports instituting a shot clock at the high school level.
“I like it because it speeds up the game a little bit, and I think people like to see a fast-paced game, especially in girls basketball, it’s a little bit slower than the guys. I like the shot clock, personally. It would improve the game,” Westbrook said. “Going to Tennessee, you’re always going to have the shot clock there. They are preparing us for college, so we should have a college-style basketball game. I think a shot clock would only make it better.”
Coons said that the coaches in Oregon are in the early stages of possibly raising the addition of a shot clock as an issue for the OSAA Executive Board to consider.
“We have submitted questions to Rob Younger, who is the executive director of the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association, so that we have an official poll as he sends it out to coaches,” Coons said. “So that when we go to the meeting at the OSAA office to talk about the winter basketball season, we can say this many coaches are in favor of a shot clock.”
Younger said there is a specific procedure to follow if the coaches want to change the rule and add a shot clock.
“The way we get policy change is it always starts with the coaches association first, and what we will do is have our sports chairs, in this case our basketball sports chairs, and they are very interested in this by the way, make a policy proposal,” Younger said. “Then I run a survey, and I’ll survey all of the athletic directors in our state, and all the basketball coaches, boys and girls, and get the survey results and input on whether or not they would like to have a shot clock.
“And then we’ll take that information and present it to the OSAA Executive Board, and at that point, they’ll have a first reading at one of their meetings, and then they’ll continue to gather information or ask me to gather more information,” Younger added. “And then at the second meeting, it would be an action item, and they would make the decision one way or the other.”