Following a rules meeting by the Iowa High School Athletic Association on Sunday, both the IHSAA and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union have OK’d a shot clock in high school basketball.
The extra clock won’t be used until 2022-2023, and according to the board meeting released this morning by the IHSAA, all members schools will be required to use a 35-shot clock at the varsity level. Sub-varsity competition use of the shot clock will be allowed but not required leaving it to a local decision.
Though most fans, players, and coaches will celebrate Iowa becoming the 10th state to adopt the shot clock, others are starting to worry. Third-year North Iowa, Buffalo Center head girls basketball coach Rick Meyer has been working to turn around a program with just ten wins over the past four seasons. Though with low program numbers and a separating skill gap caused partly by constant program youth – adding another element to the game could be trouble, says Meyer,
“Small schools don’t have the high number of kids available to go out anyway, and this might cause some of your fringe players to say no because they don’t want to have that shot clock hanging over their heads while playing and be blamed for a turnover or lost game.”
Meyer and North Iowa won’t be the only program in the state to struggle with this decision; others will face the same battles.
With limited time between the first practice and first game, Meyer and other coaches will be taking time away from teaching key fundamentals to teach kids instead to avoid a shot clock violation, “You are going to have to take time in practice and go over the shot clock and how it works and what offenses to run and defenses to play to affect the game and what you as a coach and player need to do,” Meyer also said.
North Iowa plays in the Top of Iowa West, a conference notorious for pressing the basketball in the backcourt, forcing some teams to use almost a third of the shot clock before even setting up an offense. “It will cause poor shot selection and shooting techniques in the game because the players don’t want to get a violation, so they will chuck up a shot just to beat the shot clock, which defeats all the work you put in over the off-season,” Meyer also mentioned.
Other area coaches praised the IHSAA for acting quickly following the announcement in May by the NFHS, allowing states to use a shot clock starting in ’22-’23. West Hancock boys basketball coach Jay Hiscocks was excited about the change while talking with KIOW.
In preparing for the announcement, Hiscocks was curious. He rewatched one of the area’s best defensive battles between his Eagles, and Forest City played in Britt on January 29th. Hiscocks says he recalls only a handful of possessions that would trigger a shot clock violation under the new rule.
Hiscocks and other shot clock proponents were horrified with some of the larger schools’ postseason scores. But shot clocks fans really went aggressive after watching Des Moines Christian hold the ball without shooting for nearly the entire second half and beat Madrid 23-17. One of the local papers called the move ‘rare’ and mentioned the two teams combined for nearly 140 points in their previous meeting. A live stream of the game was posted to social media, allowing coaches, fans, media members, and presumably the two Iowa governing bodies to observe.
From a different angle, Hiscocks feels getting a shot off in 35 seconds won’t always be an issue. Instead, he’s looking at it defensively and using it as a tool.
Hiscocks also echoed administrators’ worries that growing pains will be tough until not having a shot clock is an afterthought.
The IGHSAU and IHSAA didn’t release any further details. Still, it’s understood from communications from the IHSAA that it would cost them over 1-millions dollars to supply schools with shot clocks, money Chris Cuellar – the association’s communication director – told the Des Moines Register it doesn’t have. It seems schools will be responsible for supplying their own clocks.
Who will run the shot clock, and how will they be trained? Those and many other questions have yet to be answered. According to the IHSAA’s release, those questions won’t be answered with experimental games this season, as some first thought could happen.
“With a date set for statewide implementation, experimental exceptions will not be granted during the 2021-2022.” – IHSAA Release
Games using an experiment shot clock have taken place over the past two years for both boys’ and girls’ basketball. In fact, the West Hancock girls’ basketball team took part in the 16th Rivlary Saturday event held in Cedar Rapids in November 2019. The event – played at Kohawk Arena – gave 14 of the best programs in the state a chance to play against the clock. The Eagles beat West Branch in that game 46-41.
For it or against it – the shot clock is coming.
Zarren Egesdal is the sports director for Coloff Media radio stations KIOW and KHAM. He can be reached daily at [email protected] or 641-585-1073. Do you have a story idea? Feel free to contact him. Zarren is an award-winning journalist providing coverage to all area schools. You will hear Zarren calling games as the ‘voice of the Forest City Indians’ on KIOW (107.3), the Indians’ flagship station throughout the year.