Alan Dell

DELL COMMENTARY: High-scoring teams BCS and Lakewood Ranch want shot clock

The NBA adopted a shot clock more than half a century ago to save the game. Colleges added one 31 years ago and have changed it twice since in an effort to quicken the pace of the game.

Is it time for high school basketball to follow suit?

Seven states have a shot clock for boys and girls basketball, and there is a growing sentiment for it throughout the country, but this is far from a movement. It depends on who you ask.

A study by MaxPreps during the 2013-14 season that examined 137,000 boys basketball games found the average combined scoring for states without a shot clock was 104.2 points per game. For the seven states with a shot clock it was 101.4 points per game.

But shot clock advocates say the shot clock is not just about points per game. It's about the pace of the game and what teams do in the final minutes of a close game.

The study showed that in Florida that year the average score of the

winning teams in boys basketball was 60.6 points per game.

The Bradenton Christian boys team averaged 81 points per game last season, which made the Panthers the highest-scoring team in the state, according to MaxPreps.

Lakewood Ranch, which had the most successful boys public school team in Manatee County, averaged 74 poInts.

"We are probably going towards that way and I would like to see a shot clock," Bradenton Christian head coach Scott Townsend said. "It will change how you play defense. We like to play fast and some teams tried to slow us down. But teams couldn't stall against us because we would put defensive pressure on them."

Lakewood Ranch, which averaged 8.6 three-pointers per game, doesn't need a shot clock, but Mustangs head coach Jeremy Schiller said it would be good for high school basketball.

"I would love it. I think the pace of the game would speed up and allow coaches to do more things offensively and defensively," Schiller said. "It would help players transition to college faster since they will have a shot clock at that level. The biggest concern is the expense of adding the clocks to all the gyms."

Minnesota doesn't have a shot clock, but it plays two 18-minute halves, unlike the rest of the country, which plays four eight-minute quarters.

"We would average more than 100 points per game if we had those extra four minutes," Townsend said.

The prevailing thinking is that this is a generational thing. Younger coaches like the shot clock because that's what they grew up on watching the NBA and college basketball.

Southeast head coach Floyd Watkins, is a good example. He doesn't want a shot clock though he had a very athletic team that averaged 70-plus points and liked to get up and down the floor.

"For the overall health of high school basketball around here, it wouldn't help," Watkins said. "In terms of development of high school players it wouldn't be good. A bad shot is pretty much like a turnover and it triggers a fast break. There is already enough bad offense going on.

"I think you would see a lot of kids jacking up shots. Would it help to tell a kid he only has to play defense for 30 seconds? Most don't like to play it for 10 seconds."

One thing that would likely deter a shot clock in high school is money. The estimated price of adding a shot clock starts at about $2,200 and then there is the extra cost of hiring the shot clock operator.

New York, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Rhode Island have shot clocks for boys and girls basketball. For the boys, the shot clocks are for 35 seconds except in Massachusetts (30 seconds).

The clocks are 30 seconds for the girls, except in South Dakota (35 seconds).

The top nine states (for boys basketball) in terms of highest combined points per game do not have a shot lock. The 10th-ranked state is South Dakota.

Kansas head coach Bill Self said anybody can teach a team to hold the ball and stall; if you really want to see how good a coach is, you install a shot clock.

Others would disagree, especially those who remember the four corner days at North Carolina with Dean Smith and Phil Ford. BCS used a four corners offense a few times, so the debate continues.

Alan Dell, Herald sports columnist/writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports