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J. Thomas McNamara

     A movement is afoot to have Illinois approve shot clocks for boys and girls basketball.

    Shot Clock Warriors want the Land of Lincoln to join the National Federation of High School Associations who have shot clocks for prep basketball of which there are nine states now.
    Representatives of Shot Clock Warriors made a positive presentation to the Illinois High School Association Board of Directors at their Aug. 24 virtual meeting on why there should be shot clocks in prep basketball in Illinois.
    Anyone who reads this column and these Decatur Tribune sports pages weekly know what came next as I reached out to our 13 Decatur and Macon County basketball head coaches for their thoughts on the matter which as expected was not unanimous.  
    Eisenhower’s Rodney Walker and MacArthur’s Ron Ingram were excited and supportive of it. Maroa-Forsyth’s Aaron Ennis and Sangamon Valley’s Nick Viele also like the idea and their thoughts appear, but it’s not unanimous as Mount Zion’s Dale Schuring and Central A&M’s Rob Smith are against them with the Raiders head coach going into great detail on why he feels they are not good for prep basketball.  
    But first here’s Walker and Ingram, followed by the Trojans Ennis and the Storm’s Viele. 
    The Panthers Walker responded, “It’s simple, Tom.  We as coaches are supposed to prepare our players for the future, the same as teachers are doing for our students.  News flash!  College has a shot clock!” 

    With additional questioning from yours truly, Eisenhower’s Walker expounded in greater detail on why he supports the shot clock, “Doesn’t make a difference how many players are going to college to play.  We still must properly prepare them just in case they get a chance.  A shot clock has NOT stopped players from going to college.  Good players will adjust regardless.  Honestly I feel AAU is not so great for colleges.  AAU is like highway miles on a car!  It’s good for the motor!  I see a lot of token defense and a lot of non-  structured open field play.  Totally opposite of what colleges are looking for.  It’s all about preference at the end of day.  If I wanted to be bored to death, I would watch a chess tournament!  Most kids that are great in those type of systems, struggle at next level when the speed changes.
    MacArthur’s Ingram opined, “All next level basketball has shot clock, college, NBA, semi pro, overseas. And there are a couple states that has it in high school.  It would be great to have.  Gotta prepare our kids for next level wherever that might be.
    Maroa-Forsyth’s Ennis indicated his support with these thoughts, “I personally am for a shot clock.  I do not believe we will see a significant impact in the natural flows of a game.  I do think it will improve quality of play at the end of games where we have seen games get drawn out due to fouling for 3 or 4 minutes in a row.”
    Viele opined, “Putting the shot clock into high school basketball makes sense in the long run.  It is used at every next level, so if players have dreams of playing college basketball, this helps prepare for what is to come.  I do have my thoughts of this could be a bad thing is some instances.  Some teams struggle offensively to begin with, and its those teams, that are still learning to play the game that would benefit from not having a set time to shoot every possession.  Like anything though, adapting is the key, and it would probably be a mess at first, but teams would get used to it.”
    Here’s the other side of the story which indicates it basically boils down to class differences as the larger schools, Classes and 4 want it, as 1 and 2A class coaches don’t with the exceptions of the Trojans Ennis and the Storm’s Viele.
    The Braves Schuring and the Raiders Smith’s comments follow:
    Schuring offered, “I am on the other end of the spectrum from Rodney.  I personally don’t want it.  It takes away the opportunity for the lesser talented team to compete by controlling the tempo of the game.
      “I know the argument that no one wants to watch a stall game and a final score of 18-12, but when is the last time you saw that type of game?  I just think the rich get richer by adopting the shot clock.
    Finally, I firmly believe we will have one very soon and it will not change how the greatest majority of teams play offense.   Most teams get a shot up in 15-25 seconds anyway,” concluded Schuring.
   Central A&M’s Smith’s thoughts were, “I’ve been opposed to it for a number of reasons.  1-Cost: How do we justify spending any taxpayer money on this when schools already are struggling.  2-It’s already difficult to find volunteers for clock, book, etc.  3-Making sure someone is a volunteer is one thing, finding someone to run it correctly will be an even more difficult hurdle.  4-I think play will suffer if it’s a 35 second or less clock.
        “Why wouldn’t every team just apply token 3/4 pressure to waste time and then jump into a pack line defense?  Almost all colleges now play pack line because of the shot clock.  Illinois tried not to and were awful defensively until they went to pack principles.
    The shot clock will make defense easier to coach.  Almost every possession will result in some kind of ball screen and drive at the end of the clock.
    “Really don’t want to see this in high school basketball myself.  It will make it easier to coach though.  Run a quick hitter or action with a ball screen at end of clock,” concluded Smith, whose Raiders have made the supersectionals three consecutive years and finished third in the Class 1A 2019 tournament.

    In January, Georgia became the ninth state to approve implementation of a high school basketball shot clock.  Its prep athletic association joined California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington, as well as the Washington, D.C., public schools league, in adopting either a 30- or 35-second clock.
    Seventy-two percent of the coaches who responded to the survey622 of 870voted in favor of shot clocks.
    I will have more on this story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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