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Shot clock proposal for high school basketball draws mixed reactions from local coaches

By Matthew Dietz
NKyTribune sports reporter

In late April, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) decided that a 35-second shot clock can be implemented in high school basketball starting in 2022-23 if a state’s athletic association adopts the rule.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) has launched a survey of member schools to gather data for its Board of Control to make a final determination on the shot clock issue during the 2021-22 school year.

Brossart athletic director and girls head basketball coach Kevin Bundy sees no reason for Kentucky high school basketball to implement a shot clock.

According to a post on the khsaa.org website, a designated KHSAA representative from each school is being asked to submit their choice on implementing a shot clock via an online referendum system. Separate surveys are being done for boys and girls in order to determine if the choice varies by gender.

The NFHS guidelines call for displaying two countdown shot clocks connected to a horn that is distinctive from the game-clock horn and using an alternative timing device, such as a stopwatch at the scorer’s table, for a shot clock malfunction.

A shot clock has been used in college and professional basketball for years. The main reason it was implemented was to prevent teams from holding the ball on offense and controlling the pace of the game.

Kevin Bundy, athletic director and girls head basketball coach at Bishop Brossart High School, does not believe that is an issue on the high school level in Kentucky.

“I watch an awful lot of boys and girls basketball games,” Bundy said, “and very, very seldom do I see 30 seconds go by and a shot isn’t put in the air or the ball isn’t turned over.”

A major concern Bundy has with the KHSAA adopting the new rule is the expense of installing shot clocks in high school gyms. There’s also the continual cost of paying someone to sit at the scorer’s table and monitor the clock during each game.

Highlands boys basketball coach Kevin Listerman said a shot clock would reward teams that play good defense.

“I think a lot of athletic directors, or at least some athletic directors, are going to look at the expense and say this is another KHSAA mandate that we’re not getting any funding for, and that’s a real issue,” Bundy said. “At the larger schools that may not be an issue, but at a lot of the smaller schools and a lot of the private schools, it would be.”

As for the players, Bundy believes adjusting to any rule change takes time and managing a shot clock would be no exception.

“What I could see at the high school level initially, is it would create more bad shots, because when the (shot clock) number hits 10, until kids get used to it, they would start panicking,” Bundy said. “They wouldn’t realize how long 10 seconds really is. I don’t think a lot of people realize how long 35 seconds really is.”

There are only eight states that currently have a shot clock in place at the high school level. Georgia will join that list in the 2022-23 season.

Kevin Listerman, head coach of the Highlands boys basketball team that won the KHSAA state tournament in April, played college basketball with a shot clock while attending Northern Kentucky University. He thinks that adding it to high school basketball would have an impact on defensive strategy.

St. Henry coach Dave Faust knows some schools will vote in favor of a shot clock.

“I think you will see teams play more zone (defense) and teams will have an end-of-shot-clock play,” Listerman said. “I think 35 seconds is a good amount of time to find a shot, and if not the defense should get rewarded.”

Listerman said another consideration in the shot clock proposal is it would give high school officials an added responsibility to manage and monitor throughout a game.

“They have a difficult job already and I’m not sure adding a shot clock makes it any easier on them,” he said.

Dave Faust, the winningest active coach in 9th Region boys basketball during his career at St. Henry, said he would not be in favor of the Kentucky adding a shot clock. But he knows some coaches around the state would consider it a positive step.

“I think it would depend on how talented your team is,” Faust said. “I think those coaches that year in and year out have talent probably would be in favor of the clock.”

The KHSAA is asking representatives of members schools to submit their survey responses on implementing a shot clock before June 15. The Board of Control will then conduct a lengthy review that may also include input from coaches and other interested individuals.

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