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Coaches Corner: Why I Oppose the Shot Clock

My father, Sam Komp Jr. from Peshtigo, was a long time member of the WBCA. He is a member of the WBCA Hall of Fame. As a coach, he helped me develop a love for the game and a love for competing that I carry with me today. Even though he taught me numerous valuable lessons in his role as a coach, the most important lessons he taught me came in his role as my father. One of those lessons is understanding the difference between a want and a need. I believe that lesson is at the heart of today’s debate about the shot clock for Wisconsin basketball.

The shot clock is not needed in the state of Wisconsin. The game of basketball in the state of Wisconsin is thriving. The quality of play throughout the state is at a high level. We have a generation of coaches who learned from Ken Anderson, Dick and Jack Bennett, and Bo Ryan that preach fundamentals and strong team play. We have numerous players who leave high school and excel at the next level. Basketball is thriving like never before in our state. The flagship school, the University of Wisconsin, has witnessed unprecedented success using many players grown and developed in our state under our current rules. There is no need to change what is so clearly working.

I often ask my coaching friends who support the shot clock why is it needed. Many of the responses I get fall along the lines of improving scoring or making it more exciting. Despite asking numerous coaches multiple times to support their speculation with data, no one has ever come up with anything to support the speculation that a shot clock will lead to a higher scoring and more exciting games.

In fact, the only study I have looked at led to just the opposite conclusion. A MaxPreps study shows that states with a shot clock actually experience lower scoring games than states with no shot clock. The study, done from the 2013-14 season shows that nine of the top ten state scoring averages come from states with no shot clock. Also, states with no shot clock saw an average of 104 total points a game vs. 101 for games with a shot clock. While a three-year old study may not be conclusive either way, perhaps it shows coaches need to research their position a bit better before speculating on what might happen.

A shot clock improving the game is purely speculation. Poorer shot selection, lower shooting percentages, and more turnovers are just as likely as an increase in scoring. The truth is, there is nothing definitive to support speculation that it will improve the game. It is not needed.

On December 1, the WIAA Board of Control will decide the fate of the shot clock. When you gather to consider it, please ask yourself what is the need for it? What is this great need that would require you to go against the wishes of the vast majority of Athletic Directors and Administrators in the state? What is this overwhelming need that would require you to stick each school with a financial burden during this time of tight budgets and declining enrollment? What is this tremendous need that would cause you to go against the recommendations from the national organization that makes the rule for the game? What is this need that is so great that we are willing to make such a change without even polling the people who will oversee it, the officials? These are the questions you should demand the people wanting a shot clock answer before you allow this process to continue any further. 

I am against the shot clock because I know the difference between a want and a need. There are things in life we all want, but they don’t always make things better. Ask yourself if the shot clock is something our state needs, or is it simply a want. From my perspective, the shot clock is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist.

Written by Wild Rose boys basketball coach James Komp.

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