Majority of coaches hope high school will add shot clock
In the middle of an IHSA season filled with more changes than anyone could have imagined, another major one might be coming Monday.
A group of suburban basketball coaches that includes St. Charles East boys coach Patrick Woods, Lake Park girls coach Brian Rupp, Burlington Central girls coach Collin Kalamatas and many more have been part of a coordinated effort to bring the shot clock to the high school game.
Whitney Young coach Ty Slaughter helped start the process, and more and more coaches joined a weekly Zoom call in June and July to figure out steps to make the change happen. Recently they held a town hall meeting with 60 coaches around the state joining.
"Different members take on different roles," Kalamatas said. "A lot of troops on the ground trying to get word out to different coaches, a girls coach at the school to talk to boys coach to get momentum built. All trying to do our part. It is a very organized movement, not just us blabbing our mouths. Trying to put pressure on the IHSA to make a decision."
Majority in favor
A statewide vote was held in July to see how many coaches favor a shot clock. The results were extremely positive.
A total of 870 boys and girls coaches voted with 622 voting in favor of the shot clock (71.5%). Broken down by gender, 341 boys coaches, or 74%, voted yes, and 68% of girls coaches voted in favor.
On Monday, Evanston boys coach Mike Ellis, St. Ignatius boys coach Matt Monroe, Slaughter, Woods and Kalamatas will make their case in a 10 a.m. Zoom meeting with the IHSA's executive board.
The board, made up of 11 principals from around the state, will vote following the meeting. Woods said the biggest hurdle is the shot clock goes against NFHS recommendations, but he's confident the proposal can still pass.
If approved, Woods said the clock probably wouldn't start until 2021-22. If anything, this year teams might experiment with it at random games.
There's a couple of possible rollouts. One would start with varsity and then work into lower levels in following years. The other would start with 3A and 4A schools -- which 85% of coaches voted for the clock -- and then go to 2A and 1A where between 57 and 60% voted in favor.
Woods said they are flexible about the timeline, they just want the shot clock approved.
"Bottom line is we want shot clock in the state of Illinois and we want NFHS to adopt as well," Woods said. "Some people might say this is a bad time to push for a shot clock. I think we would argue this is a great time because the coaches are still working and we wouldn't have this time normally. Now we have time to make this happen. Plus I think it's a big positive for the game. It's a time when there's a lot of negative, I think we need some positive."
Currently 10 states have a shot clock in high school basketball. Arkansas was the most recent.
Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston, who previously coached at Grant and Geneva, is in favor of the shot clock. He admitted that might come as a surprise to some who have seen his teams run through their sometimes patient sets.
"I think it will have a similar type of effect the 3-point line had on high school basketball," Ralston said of that 1987 rule change. "I know many people would probably say a guy like coach Ralston is against the shot clock. I would say nothing could be further from the truth. I think a shot clock would be good for high school basketball. Some of my teams have had a reputation of running a minute of offense but I think those are rare occasions. I think it would add structure of the game and 35 seconds is plenty of time for teams to run good sets of offense and take a good shot."
There is added cost
The coaches have been working to dispel what they feel are inaccurate negative views about a shot clock. One is the cost.
Woods has received quotes between $2,200 and $3,600 and is hoping if a mass number of schools order the shot clocks they can reduce that slightly. There's also an extra person to pay to run the clock during the season.
"There's always going to be costs associated with upkeep of a field or court," Woods said. "It's not an astronomical cost where it would be prohibitive."
Woods said schools and booster clubs will have time to plan financially. He said Slaughter has been working with NBA contacts to help cover costs at schools with fewer resources.
Coaches in favor of the shot clock believe it is long overdue at the high school level.
"You watch some of these important games and see final scores of 31-29 and some of these ridiculous situations where teams just hold onto the ball and I think that just needs to go," Kalamatas said. "It's not part of the game of basketball. It's the only level of basketball in the world that plays that way. Outside America every country that plays FIBA rules has a shot clock even when they are 12, 14 years old. We need to start getting ourselves to that level."
While critics say a shot clock might lead kids to taking bad shots with less teamwork, Kalamatas doesn't agree.
"I think of it more as a skill development thing," Kalamatas said. "Put kids in a situation where they have the ball in their hands with 10 seconds on the shot clock and they will have to learn to be a playmaker and not just defer to their best player on their team. When you practice those situations I think it enhances the skill development of those players in the long run."
Coaches haven't proposed a specific number for the clock. Woods suggested something between 30 and 40 seconds.
Whatever the number, Woods said it will improve the last minutes of the game that often turn into foul fests.
"It gives the team that is down a chance to get the ball back where in the past teams would hold the ball," Woods said. "You can't do that with the shot clock. It will be exciting. The kids will love it and the fans will love it."