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CSRA basketball coaches talk shot clock

Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 6:24 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Shots clocks are coming to Georgia high school basketball as early as this season at holiday tournaments. It’s a change to the game that has a lot of coaches excited for the coming years.

"What tournaments are going to start using the shot clocks because I want in!" proclaimed Josey girls basketball coach Jawan Bailey.

Shot clocks will be implemented on a year-by-year plan, allowing them first at holiday tournaments in the 2020-21 season. Next, they can be used in region play during the 2021-22 season. By the 2022-23 season, they'll be implemented state wide and in the state playoffs.

Georgia joins 9 other states that have approved high school shot clocks, though they'll only be the 9th using it. After initially approving one, Wisconsin ended up dropping the idea. California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington all use shot clocks at the high school level.

A shot clock will speed up pace of play. It's also going to force players to learn, adapt, and perfect a new awareness.

"I see all these different arguments like 'oh a shot clock helps skill development.' Not necessarily. It'll teach kids more situational basketball so those top kids that go to college will have one less thing to learn on their plate when they get there," said Grovetown's Darren Douglas.

Most coaches do have a sense of excitement with it. Even in excitement, there's still some questions surrounding it.

"I think it's needed in a sense, where especially for the kids going to play college ball, I think it's got a lot of pros and cons. I don't know if you have a runaway, we have a mercy rule or whatever if you're beating a team by so many points. How's that going to affect that? There's just a lot of questions still," said Cross Creek athletic director and girls basketball coach Kim Schlein.

There are coaches who aren't looking forward to it simply because it will change their approach to a game. Possession becomes less of a factor when it's already limited. Plays that took significant amount of time to develop will have to be thrown out of the playbook. Changing the tempo of a game based on possession will no longer be an option.

"Coaches are against it simply because of how they play. With the force of a shot clock, it changes how you coach, it changes how the kids have to play," said Bailey.

"It'll be the fact that guys can't just run a minute or two off the clock," Douglas added.

While coaching at Aquinas, Douglas experienced the over-possession strategy first hand. During the course of his 26 game season, 4 games featured scores where the winner scored less than 50 points; two of which the winners scored less than 40. He lamented in one of those under 40 games, the opposing team held the ball for 5 of the 8 minutes of the fourth quarter.

That type of strategy works for a lesser talented team taking on a more talented one. The fewer shots and possessions one team has, the fewer chances they have to score. It was a way of leveling the playing field and trying to make a game more evenly matched.

"It's going to hurt the lesser talented teams, which I get but, it's kind of a skewed argument because if you're a lesser talent, you're still going in with a disadvantage even if you don't have a shot clock," Douglas finished.

While being excited for a faster pace of play, Schlein also has to look at more than just a coaching strategy. As an athletic director, she'll also have to consider the financial component of adding shot clocks to backboards or to scoreboards. Officials will also have to learn how to operate any new equipment.

"I've just talked to our coaches, coach Kelly, and he's ready for it and he's all gung-ho about it. Which is fine and all, but like I said, I guess being the ad looking at the financial standpoint of it as well and not only the coaching standpoint," Schlein said.

Holiday tournaments at colleges will have an advantage of having shot clocks already on site and ready to use. High schools still have time to figure out how to fund raise and how to incorporate them. It is clear this is a decision that could have a lot of benefits. A faster paced game is much more fun to watch and it also is very helpful for athletes playing at a higher level.

"Our job as coaches is to get these kids ready for the next level. It doesn't matter what level they're going to next, they're playing with a shot clock," said Bailey.

Coaches who prefer a slower style of play will have to find ways to adapt. Fundraising and logistics could also be difficult, especially for programs that don't have booster clubs. Challenges aside, there is plenty of excitement about the shot clock on the Georgia side of the CSRA.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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