SUP­PORT GROWS BY THE SEC­OND

TWO YEARS AGO, COACHES IN ILLI­NOIS WERE CLOSELY SPLIT OVER ADDING SHOT CLOCK; NOW PRO­PO­NENTS THINK IT’S TIME TO DO AN­OTHER COUNT

Chicago Sun-Times - - HIGH SCHOOLS - BY JOE HENRICKSEN @joe­hoop­sre­port

The Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of State High School As­so­ci­a­tions con­tin­u­ally re­vis­its the topic of adding a bas­ket­ball shot clock. This past spring, it again re­jected a pro­posal to man­date its use. And as the NFHS goes, so does the IHSA for Illi­nois sports, typ­i­cally. “The IHSA has not de­vi­ated from NFHS rules his­tor­i­cally, as do­ing so for­feits our voice in the na­tional rules writ­ing process,” IHSA spokesper­son Matt Troha said.

But that hasn’t stopped other in­di­vid­ual states from adding the shot clock within their own state ath­letic as­so­ci­a­tions, and the idea is be­gin­ning to pick up steam and sup­port in the Illi­nois bas­ket­ball com­mu­nity.

Young coach Ty­rone Slaugh­ter is lead­ing a grass­roots ef­fort by a group of coaches, en­gag­ing both boys and girls coaches across the state via Zoom calls to dis­cuss and ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties of bring­ing the shot clock to Illi­nois.

The ef­fort in­cludes con­duct­ing a mas­sive statewide sur­vey among high school coaches; that went out Mon­day for coaches to com­plete by Sun­day. There’s even a hash­tag on Twit­ter, #IHSAShotCl­ock­Now.

“I think this early process has been great and in­tel­li­gent in how it’s be­ing done,” Loy­ola coach Tom Li­vatino said.

The IHSA sur­veyed bas­ket­ball coaches around the state about the shot clock (and many other is­sues) in 2018. Coaches at the time were nar­rowly against it, 222-221.

Sup­port ap­pears sig­nif­i­cant in the Chicago area. Li­vatino is one who says he “doesn’t see any neg­a­tives.”

The IHSA is aware of the move­ment and has a sys­tem in place for rule changes.

“If a large con­tin­gent of coaches were in fa­vor of adopt­ing a shot clock, they could pro­pose it to the IHSA Bas­ket­ball Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee,” Troha said. “As­sum­ing that com­mit­tee sup­ported the change, it would run through our nor­mal com­mit­tee process for feed­back, and the IHSA Board of Direc­tors would have the ul­ti­mate say on if, when and how the shot clock would be im­ple­mented.”

Evanston coach Mike El­lis is also a big pro­po­nent of adding it to the high school game. He has coached both in cen­tral Illi­nois at Peo­ria Rich­woods and in the Chicago area over the last decade at Evanston, us­ing dif­fer­ent styles and ap­proaches against op­po­nents. He has had teams that av­er­aged 70 points a game, as well as one that lost 31-29 in over­time to Simeon and Der­rick Rose in the 2006 state ti­tle game.

“The shot clock puts more coach­ing into the game,” said El­lis, who has guided four teams to state tro­phies. “You are go­ing to em­ploy more strat­egy into those pos­ses­sions. The qual­ity of coach­ing in us­ing shot-clock strat­egy takes some of the value of the tal­ent away.”

The av­er­age num­ber of pos­ses­sions in a high school bas­ket­ball game is 65, El­lis says. That comes to about 15 sec­onds per pos­ses­sion on av­er­age.

“We’re ac­tu­ally ask­ing to dou­ble the time of an av­er­age pos­ses­sion in a high school game by 15 sec­onds,” he said. “When you look at the big pic­ture, there are so many ben­e­fits from the ad­di­tion of a shot clock.”

Maine South coach Tony La­vo­rato plays a sys­tem at both ends of the floor that might make one think a shot clock would be detri­men­tal to him. Maine South has av­er­aged 51 points a game over the last three sea­sons.

“I am 100 per­cent in fa­vor of a shot clock,” La­vo­rato said. “I would be thrilled with a shot clock. We haven’t had a ma­jor rule change since the three-point shot, which I think came in 1987. This would be a breath of fresh air for the game.”

Loy­ola is an­other de­fense-first-minded pro­gram with a dis­tinct, pa­tient of­fen­sive style. The Ram­blers won 30 games in the Chicago Catholic League this past sea­son. They al­lowed just two teams to score 50 or more points in 34 games.

“Against prob­a­bly pop­u­lar opin­ion, I think the shot clock ben­e­fits us,” Li­vatino said. “I think as a coach, it gives you more con­trol of what hap­pens in a game, both of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively.”

Ten states in the U.S. now play with a shot clock: Cal­i­for­nia, Ge­or­gia, Mas­sachusetts, Mary­land, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Is­land and Wash­ing­ton.

Some coaches, es­pe­cially in the Pub­lic League, are con­cerned about the cost of in­stalling and op­er­at­ing the shot clock. A study done in Ohio three years ago found that the av­er­age cost to im­ple­ment it was be­tween $5,000 and $10,000. There are more than 100 schools with bas­ket­ball teams in the city.

“Cur­rently, one of my big­gest game-day stresses is find­ing a qual­i­fied stu­dent to run the clock,” Cle­mente coach Adam Hoover said. “Adding a shot clock to that re­spon­si­bil­ity would be tough. No teach­ers or adults love do­ing it since they won’t be paid. I’d love the shot clock, but not sure how we can make it work func­tion­ally.”

Taft coach Ja­son Tucker has re­cently changed his mind on the shot clock.

“At first I was wor­ried about the fund­ing,” he said. “We are in the White-North, and I think maybe two out of 10 teams in the con­fer­ence have real score­boards in their gyms.

“But I’ve been con­vinced af­ter talk­ing to some of my col­leagues. I’ve won some games by hold­ing the ball, but I know it’s bor­ing bas­ket­ball and it’s cheat­ing the kids. We need the game to be faster to catch up with other states in the coun­try. Chicago is the mecca of bas­ket­ball, and we need to catch up with the times.” ✶

“When you look at the big pic­ture, there are so many ben­e­fits from the ad­di­tion of a shot clock.” Mike El­lis, Evanston coach

“I’ve won some games by hold­ing the ball, but I know it’s bor­ing bas­ket­ball and it’s cheat­ing the kids. We need the game to be faster to catch up with other states in the coun­try.” Ja­son Tucker, Taft coach

GREGORY PAYAN/AP

Ty­rone Slaugh­ter, the boys bas­ket­ball coach at Young, has been reach­ing out to boys and girls coaches statewide to drum up sup­port for the shot clock, which 10 other states now use at the high school level.

ALLEN CUN­NING­HAM/SUN-TIMES

Taft’s Ja­son Tucker used to op­pose the shot clock over cost but has been sold on its ben­e­fits.

WORSOM ROBIN­SON/SUN-TIMES

Evanston’s Mike El­lis (front, left) be­lieves the shot clock would lead to bet­ter strat­egy.

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