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By Greg DeVillers / Forum Communications Co., Published May 14 2012

Shot clock a no-go nationally

GRAND FORKS – The shot clock has been shot down by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

But it will continue to click away in North Dakota.

The NFHS basketball rules committee recently considered a proposal to add a shot clock to the national rules. But a press release from the NFHS said the committee agreed that the sport is functioning well without it.

However, Matt Fetsch, an assistant to the executive secretary at the North Dakota High School Activities Association and the NDHSAA’s boys basketball liaison, said he doesn’t anticipate North Dakota dropping the shot clock. The shot clock has been used for several years in Class A, and became a part of Class B basketball this past winter.

The national federation’s decision “will have zero impact on our game,” Fetsch said. “I can’t see it changing anything. The comments I heard about the shot clock were overwhelmingly positive.

“I think if you ask schools, particularly those in Class A where they’ve used it longer, that they’d never want to go back to not having the shot clock. What I hear is that the clock has made the sport a more exciting game. I think there was some uncertainty in Class B going into the season. But once they started using it, it was mostly positive feedback. I think the shot clock changed the pace of the games, moved them along more quickly.”

Kent Summers, director of performing arts and sports at the NFHS, said in the press release that in addition to some concerns about costs associated with a shot clock, “the committee also expressed a belief that the game is typically played with an up-tempo style even without a shot clock.

“In addition, the committee believes that coaches should have the option of a slower-paced game if they believe it makes their team more competitive in specific situations. This could be especially true for smaller schools with limited budgets, which comprise a significant number of the 18,000 basketball-playing schools. Since the NFHS writes rules for all sizes of schools and teams, it has to consider what is best for the masses.”

The shot clock doesn’t allow stalling in games. Fetsch pointed out a girls state championship game in Oregon this winter. The state has no shot clock – the final score in the title game was 16-7. The game didn’t have the faster pace that Fetsch sees as a benefit with a shot clock; it did have the coaching strategy to which Summers alluded.

Watford City boys basketball coach Randy Cranston, one of the six members on the NDHSAA’s basketball coaches advisory committee, is like Fetsch in that he doesn’t see the shot clock being dropped in North Dakota.

Cranston said it would be difficult to justify dropping the shot clock after one season after Class B schools invested money to purchase and install shot clocks.

“And, personally, I liked it,” Cranston said. “I didn’t hear anything negative about the shot clock. I think a lot of people enjoyed it. The teams and games became more offense oriented.”

Veteran Hillsboro boys basketball coach Elliott Rotvold said he wasn’t a proponent of a shot clock when it was first being discussed for Class B. But Rotvold is now in favor of it.

“I don’t think it changed the game that much,” Rotvold said. “I can’t recall too many shot-clock violations. It’s probably changed the game more defensively than offensively. Teams probably press a little more.”

The one penalty the NDHSAA has for deviating from a national rule is that it is ineligible to have a position on the national 11-person basketball rules committee. But Fetsch doesn’t see that as a large price to pay. “If it’s good for our state, then it just is what it is,” Fetsch said.

Greg DeVillers is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald