Maybe you read about a recent high school boys' basketball game in Alabama, the one in which Bibb County defeated Brookwood, 2-0 -- a dubious accomplishment that tied the record for lowest-scoring prep basketball game in history.
Brookwood coach Thad Fitzpatrick reportedly told his players before the game (the team's fourth in a week) that he intended to rest them as much as possible. That, apparently, meant holding the ball for almost entire eight-minute quarters. They didn't even dribble.
With no shot clock in high school hoops, this stall-ball tactic is nothing new. But teams usually wait until the score at least hits double digits before they start stalling to secure a lead. Brookwood wasn't even winning.
The National Federation of State High School Associations prohibits use of a shot clock, but eight states -- Wisconsin not among them -- have broken rank and implemented one. (By doing so, they are denied a say in future potential rule changes at the national level.)
For the past few years, I've advocated for a shot clock in high school basketball, which would force teams to take shots. But I have no say in the matter, and the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association disagrees with me. "Most of our schools play a more up-tempo game, and the clock would not be applicable in most game possessions," says Deb Hauser, associate director of the WIAA in Stevens Point. "When I meet with the Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee, we annually talk about the shot clock. To date, no formal recommendation has come forward to support adding it to our game."
Shot clock opponents contend that it would eliminate the option for coaches to establish a slower-paced game in order to be more competitive, as well as erode basketball fundamentals. As if holding a ball for eight minutes exemplifies fundamental play.
From a practical perspective, Hauser says there are costs and training involved with adding a shot clock, which schools can either rent or purchase. "Most schools would need to supply a stipend for [a shot clock operator]," she says. "A combination of the fees and finding that knowledgeable individual has caused us to not move forward."
The NBA introduced a 24-second shot clock in 1954, women's college basketball adopted a 30-second clock in 1970, and the NCAA introduced a 45-second shot clock to the men's game in 1985, reducing it to 35 seconds in 1993. A few weeks ago, the NCAA announced that it will experiment with a 30-second shot clock at this year's National Invitation Tournament in an effort to jump-start offenses.
Don't hold your breath for changes at the high school level.