Scott Mansch: Shooting timer decision elicits overwhelmingly favorable responses


When the Marshall High girls’ basketball team used stall tactics against the all-favored Waseca almost three years ago in an effort to keep the game close, the consequences turned into a runaway. who sounded the call for a shot clock.

The Minnesota State High School League has heard the outcry. And recently, the organization did something, instituting a 35-second shot clock for all college basketball in the state starting in the 2023-24 school year.

“Dude, I think that’s great for high school basketball, taking it forward into the 21st century,” said Windom girls coach Jacob Johnson. “It fits the next level so well, because both the college and the NBA use it.

“It’s really going to clean up endgame situations.”

Quite true. No need to hold the basketball for a minute or more to secure the last shot. And no longer hold the ball against a strongly favored team in the hope of staying close. The tactic didn’t work for Marshall, who took just nine field goal attempts and lost 17-4 to Waseca in a playoff game in the winter of 2018.

The strategy garnered attention nationwide, thanks to articles from the Associated Press and USA Today.

The governing body of high school athletics in America, the National Federation of State High School Associations, recently approved shot timers – but stopped before a term – with final approval left to individual states .

Only a handful of states, including North Dakota and South Dakota, have ever used the rule, which provides for a fixed time during which a team can control the ball without attempting to score. In less than two years, Minnesota will join the list.

It seems like a popular decision among many basketball coaches in southwest Minnesota.

“You know you have to play 35 seconds of good D, and you can force a lot of bad teams to turnovers or terrible shots,” said Eric Lindner of Worthington, a very successful women’s coach. “I really think that’s a good thing overall.”

Lindner believes in fast offense and defense under pressure. His teams rarely attack for more than 30 seconds before shooting. While Lindner sticks to thoughtful game plans and admires the disciplined play that stall tactics demand, he’s not a fan of the style.

“I just don’t think it’s good for basketball,” he said. “Even though it might be a (sound) strategy, I don’t think it’s good for basketball.”

While everyone has an opinion, not everyone is fully invested on one side or the other.

“I’m actually very neutral about adding a shot clock in Minnesota,” Hills-Beaver Creek boys’ coach Kale Wiertzema said. “I don’t think you’ll see too many changes in the way the game is played in this part of the state.”

Wiertzema, who found success with the H-BC girls before succeeding his father Steve with the traditionally powerful Patriot Boys program, agrees with Johnson on one point.

“I think that can come into play when strategizing for end-of-game situations in tight competitions,” said Wiertzema.

Luke Drooger is a former Edgerton High athlete in his first season coaching the Southwest Minnesota Christian Girls. He is on board the MSHSL.

“The shot clock will be great for the players and the fans,” said Drooger. “The players will be able to shoot more and will just have to play good defense for 35 seconds at a time. Fans like a faster pace and score, so they like the change better.

“No need to hold the ball during the five minutes of overtime. “

But change is not free.

James Wajer, sports director for Murray County Central, is among those worried about the cost of implementing the electronic shooting clocks, which will be mounted on back panels at either end of the field.

“For us it will be around $ 10,000 – $ 5,000 per court – which is an unexpected amount,” said Wajer, whose MCC facilities include an auxiliary gymnasium. “But the bottom line is, will it improve the game? I think it will in some ways. The teams will certainly not be able to hold the ball. They are going to have to play. But there is a cost, and it is an ongoing cost. Because when it’s already hard to find officials, you’re going to have to find someone who’s committed to dealing with it. And you will have to pay them.

Running a stopwatch isn’t exactly like keeping a score, either. It requires a particularly attentive person who does not watch the score. Instead, they’re looking for a change of possession.

“That’s all they can watch. And they can’t get distracted, ”Wajer said. “It’s going to be a vital part of the game. And it will be nerve-racking, filling that seat and being able to run the shot clock.”

“For schools our size, when you look at that added expense over time, you always take away your door and your concessions. It’s money that we use for everything, not just basketball. “

Even at the high school level, of course, the basketball business is just as important as the final score.

“It’s going to be an additional expense,” Wajer said. “No doubt about it.”

What is also certain is that change is coming soon. The era of the shot clock for Minnesota’s preparation hoops will officially arrive in less than two years.

“Financially, it won’t be great for small schools, and they’ll have to find additional people to run it,” said Drooger of Edgerton. “But I think it’s going to be something where we look back 10 years from now and be shocked we never had one.”

Scott Mansch is a part-time writer at The Globe and appreciates advice and story ideas. He can be contacted at [email protected]