Should Iowa add a shot clock for high school basketball? That’s the question that many coaches and administrators around the state are asking themselves as talk of adding a shot clock has again started to heat up. Waverly-Shell Rock coach Nate Steege says he’s all for the idea. “It evens out the game, I think it makes for a more fast-paced, and more fun game. I think a team should have to shoot the ball after a certain amount of time,” Steege says. “Defensively it’s pretty tough to expect your kids to play hard and play good defense when you sometimes run into teams that are dribbling the ball away from the basket and just trying to play keep away.”
Veteran coach Marty McKowen of Wapsie Valley says that this is at least the third time that talk of a shot clock has come up during his career. He says that while he would likely vote in favor of a shot clock, he’s not completely sold either way. “There are some years when I would be 110 percent in favor of a shot clock because we are moving the ball up and down very quickly,” McKowen says. But he also says he’s had teams where they’ve slowed it down and that would be a deterrent.
Another coach in favor of adding a shot clock in Aplington-Parkersburg’s Aaron Thomas. But Thomas, who is also A-P’s activities director, says he does have some reservations from an administrative standpoint. He says the added cost would likely weigh in his decision as you would need to buy the shot clocks and then pay a person to run them, and Thomas says you would have to decide if you are going to run the clocks from varsity all the way down to the freshman level.
One option would be to test out a shot clock in just the state’s larger schools. Steege says that would allow some time to work out the kinks and build up some space in the budget. “If it’s going to make our game better and it’s going to make our players better and it’s going to help our kids down the road, I think it probably is worth it,” Steege says. He says starting with 3A and 4A and working down would be a good test and give the smaller schools a chance to raise some money.
McKowen says that if a shot clock were approved, teams would have to start adjusting to the change even before the first day of practice. He says it would be a huge change offensively and defensively in practice as you would have to work with the clock during practice to allow players to adjust.
Many people think that adding a shot clock would quicken the tempo of the games, and therefore help bolster lagging attendance at high school contests. But Thomas says there’s no way to know if that would actually happen. “I don’t know if a shot clock is the answer. Does it make a big change? I don’t know that either, you don’t know anything until you change it,” Thomas says.
There is not currently a proposal to institute a shot clock pending with either the Iowa High School Athletic Association or the Iowa Basketball Coaches Association.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls