Basketball is played with a shot clock. That’s just the way it is.
Colleges use it. The NBA uses it. The game feels disjointed when a shot clock isn’t used to speed up play and emphasize coaching and the game’s fundamentals.
Which brings me to high school basketball. In Kansas, shot clocks aren’t used. I’m sure its an issue of expense and it’s difficult to argue that reason. But as I’m watching state tournament games in Class 6A at Koch Arena this week, I’m struck by the difference the lack of a shot clock makes. It makes games, dare I say, kind of boring. And state tournament games should not be boring, right? These are the best of the best, at least the best of a 32-team class in a state that has lost its way with the number of classifications used for high school sports.
But that’s another story, one I and many others have pounded for years. But before I move on, allow me to point out that instead of cutting the number of classes, which should happen, the Kansas State High School Activities Association has added one this year. Yes, there are now two divisions of Class 1A, bringing the overall total of classes to seven for a state with fewer than 3 million in population.
Back to the shot clock issue. The game really slows down without one. Now, there are teams and games that aren’t affected by the lack of a shot clock. Fast-paced teams that like to play up-tempo, like Wichita Heights. I doubt the Falcons ever even notice the lack of a shot clock.
But many other games need a clock to help the pace of a game. It’s a great tool for strategy, too, encouraging proficient half-court offense.
I hope you’ll read my column on the City League’s success at the highest levels of boys basketball over the 100-year history of the state tournaments, and specifically since 1977. During that time, City League schools have won 22 of 34 state championships in Classes 5A and 6A, whichever has been the largest class at the time. It’s definitely something for which the league and the city should be proud.
By the way, kudos to McPherson’s Carol R. Swenson for his book on the history of the high school state tournaments in Kansas. It’s a great resource and undoubtedly took a lot of work. But it’s comprehensive and interesting and I’m sure high school basketball enthusiasts will love the book. Great job by Swenson.
A sports writer’s memories
I’ve covered a lot of state tournaments during my time at The Eagle and written about a lot of really good City League basketball teams. My favorite tournament, though, had to be my first, covering the juggernaut Heights team in 1977 at Kansas City Community College. The Falcons were rarely tested that season and their dominance continued in the state tournament, where they built an early 25-0 lead over Kansas City Wyandotte and went on to win, 92-52.