Sports

Tenth of a point — Entering a new era — every 35 seconds

I’ve learned that my questions in life and professionally often don’t get answered.

But even of those that have been responded to, this one took a while.

I remember asking my high school basketball coach almost 10 years ago after losing to Franklin Pierce by two points:

“Why isn’t there a shot clock?”

The 17-year-old version of me needed an answer after the Cardinals held onto the ball for close to four minutes with a one-point lead before getting fouled with just 15 seconds remaining.

But no answer came, and it has been a reminder ever since. The game wasn’t a particularly big one — just a league match between two terrible teams looking for another spec of pride.

I think that the absence of a shot clock has been a source of frustration for most basketball programs — something for a coach to shake his head at during the post-game interview with the annoying local sports reporter.

And that joke is just after a game.

Lately, it’s become that sort of thing that everybody knows is needed, and we all feel like those in charge are clueless. It was akin to how two guys in the early-to-mid ‘90s that had nothing to talk about would gravitate toward the need of relief pitching on a Mariners team that had arguably the best starting pitcher and outfielder in the history of baseball.

“We can’t have another year of Bobby Ayala,” one guy would blurt out to break the awkward silence.

“You’re telling me! But he’s better than Mike Schooler,” the other would respond, thereby ending the conversation — and both would be on the same page.

That loosely parallels nearly 50 exchanges between me and two dozen high school basketball coaches and players over my career — that’s right, some of them I’d say it to more than once.

But now that the decision has finally been made. The WIAA has changed the rules to include a 35-second shot clock for the boys (girls already use a 35-second shot clock) and this year will be interesting to watch the transition, as Arlington coach Nick Brown stated.

“I’m a little bit interested to see where it goes,” he said. “Aggressive defense will be stressed for a more sustained period and 2-for-1 strategies at the end of quarters will take a little getting used to.”

Finally, now we have something new to talk about after games — like subjecting high schoolers to a shot clock.

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