Matt Meyer and Skip Dolan kidded to each other about the 35-second shot clock their teams would use Thursday.
For their teams, a 10-second shot clock made more sense.
“When I got an email about it, I told him, ‘as if that’s going to have an impact on the pace,'” said Dolan, Annandale’s boys basketball coach.
Meyer’s St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders beat Annandale 91-85. For the Crusaders, it was a good refresher course on the shot clock, which has been used the past half-dozen years at the Crusader Christmas Classic.
“Hey, I like it just because it helped us beat Melrose last year,” Meyer said. “They were up one with 45 seconds left and we didn’t have to foul to get the ball back.”
Joe Burt, now playing at Augustana, beat the Dutchmen on a last-second shot.
And while Annandale and Cathedral certainly don’t spend much time worrying about the shot clock, people like Cathedral activities director Emmett Keenan do.
He says that since Cathedral has used it at its annual tournament, which is Dec. 27-29 this year, he has received no complaints. He’s an advocate for its use.
“I think the only reason it hasn’t happened is because of the expense,” Keenan said. “I think it’s time for us to have it.”
A private donor paid about $6,000 to have all the electronics necessary for a shot clock installed at Cathedral’s North Gym. Like Thursday’s game, it rarely has been an issue at the Cathedral tournament.
Cathedral had a small lead Thursday with less than two minutes to play and Meyer ordered a stall, forgetting there was a shot clock. After the 35 seconds ticked off, the buzzer sounded and Cathedral turned the ball over.
“I was thinking, we didn’t run the clock out that fast,” said Meyer, who laughed when he realized there was a clock.
Keenan said that the game is unlikely to change for the first 34 minutes. The shot clock generally only seems to matter in the final two, when the team ahead goes into a delay game and the team behind starts fouling.
Put in a shot clock, Keenan said, and the team ahead must continue with its normal offense.
Critics abound, of course. The most common argument is that smaller, less-talented teams will have less of a chance to upset a more-talented squad.
“How often does that really happen now?” Keenan asked, knowing the answer: Not often.
Dolan said he thinks the 35-second clock may be too long. He thinks the NBA’s 24-second clock is too short. He said women’s college basketball has it about right. It uses a 30-second clock.
“That should be enough time to get a good shot out of your offense,” Dolan said.
Cost remains a huge issue, especially with tight school budgets. Like anything, Keenan said, upgrades need to be made and he views a shot clock part of a necessary upgrade.
“I understand the expense,” he said. “But the game evolves. Fifty years ago, schools were forced to go to electronic timing. This is just like everything else. I think we’re going to see it eventually.”