- Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Whenever there were nasty stretches of offense in a college basketball game last season -- and there were many -- the natural suggestion to remedy the challenge involved a reduction of the shot clock.
If players, teams and coaches are given less time to execute, then the game will be faster, and we’ll see fewer low scores and more attractive play. That’s the theory. And it’s supported by many.
With its latest assortment of recommendations, unveiled on Thursday, the Men’s Basketball Rules Committee acknowledged the need to tweak the offensive flow in college basketball.
But the committee made the right call when it addressed the issue without recommending the alteration of the shot clock.
The men’s committee focused much of its discussions on attempting to open the game.
“We talked a lot about the rules that are currently in place and ultimately believe a focused effort on calling the rules as written will have an immediate and significant impact,” said John Dunne, chair of the committee and head coach at Saint Peter’s.
I just don’t think that a shot clock switch from 35 to 30 seconds or less is the right move for the game. I understand and respect the intentions of its supporters, though.
I can’t lie and say that I enjoyed that Tennessee-Georgetown matchup last season. Or Butler-UConn in the national title game two seasons ago.
Still, I believe the current rules give college basketball teams the variation they deserve. Most players wouldn’t execute efficiently with less time. Many players struggle with the time they have now. Coaches recognize that.
Sure, some of them use the shot clock as a weapon. But there are many coaches who need the time to set up the best shot for their programs. That’s their only chance at victory against more talented programs.
Hate on Wisconsin and its style if you want. But the Badgers have never missed the NCAA tournament under Bo Ryan, and they’ve never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten. How many teams boast a streak like that? How many teams have done it with fewer four- and five-star kids? The goal is to win. That’s all.
The teams that play sloppy and slow right now would still play slow and sloppy with 30 seconds, too. The teams that work the shot clock would work it with 30 seconds, too.
Do you want faster basketball or better basketball? There’s a difference.
Plus, the shot clock is a potential neutralizer.
Butler was ranked 292nd and 277th in adjusted tempo in 2010 and 2011 per KenPom.com. There’s no way the Bulldogs would have reached the national championship in those seasons without the ability to take advantage of the shot clock.
Did their methods lead to some unappealing basketball at times? Yep. But they also enhanced the one element that separates the amateurs from the pros: vast parity.
If I’m a squad without one top-100 recruit facing an SEC school with four future pros, then a fast, back-and-forth affair would certainly magnify the talent gap between the two schools. Fewer possessions and a slower pace, however, could help Team X close the gap.
The reality is that the majority of the players at the collegiate level are not future pros. So, inconsistent execution should be expected. There would be more of it with less time.
And that would affect March Madness.
The David versus Goliath theme fuels the most intriguing postseason event in sports, amateur or pro. People love the NCAA tournament because a relatively unknown mid-major from the Midwest (Wichita State) can outperform the perennial in-state powerhouse (Kansas).
The 35-second shot clock provides a platform for the offensive versatility and diversity that leads to those seemingly impossible outcomes.
No need to change that.