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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Coaches could support shorter shot clock

By Eamonn Brennan

How do we remedy the current ugliness of the college game?

It's a question we've been asking for almost a year now, and it coursed through the ugly 2012-13 season's veins, particularly after a thrilling national final laid bare just how good the sport could be, and how bad it had often been for the past five months. There are many ideas for ways the NCAA could change the game, from tweaks to drastic overhauls to philosophical arguments to loud laments of things totally outside its control (i.e. one and dones), with plenty of nuance therein.

Among the most immediately obvious is a shorter shot clock. The 35 second clock seems too long for the college game; too many games seem to turn into a regimented exchange of agreed-upon half-court skirmishes, like pre-Industrial Era musketmen. Bor-ing. So here's some good news: Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches' Board of Directors, actually told WWLS's Dominant Duo Show that there is support among college hoops coaches for 24-second shot clock:
“One of the guys I have great respect for — Johnny Dawkins, who is at Stanford — and we were in our meetings the other day, and he said, ‘We have the slowest game in the world,’” Izzo said. “As you say, the international [game] is less [slow]. The pro is less. The women’s is less. And here we are with 35 [seconds].

“It was talked about at our meetings in Atlanta,” Izzo said. “You know the bureaucracy of committees and what it’s got to do, but I think there is getting to be a growing run at maybe doing that, and I think more coaches are in favor of it.”

Will a 24-second shot clock result in a faster game? We don't really know, because college basketball has never had a 24-second shot clock before. What we do know, via Luke Winn's deep dive from last offseason, is this: In the past 25 years of college basketball, the pace of the game was never faster than when the sport had a 45-second shot clock. After the switch to 35, the college game's collective pace plummeted faster than the price of Bitcoins. There are no guarantees.

Here's why it's good news anyway: Because it indicates among coaches not only an acceptance of the general problem, but a willingness to petition the NCAA for change. The will is never an issue with college coaches; when they want a rule done, they make their opinions clear. But the acknowledgment is something many fans (and even a fair share of college basketball writers, for whom the sport is their baby, and how dare you insult my baby!) have struggled with. The acknowledgment is huge.

(Hat tip: Dauster)