Wednesday, July 2, 2014

American Conference Thinking About A Much Needed Change In The Shot Clock

Word came out recently that the American Conference was considering changing the shot clock to thirty seconds and they couldn’t be more right. This is exactly what this conference needs. They know that with the departure of Louisville this upcoming season that the strength of this conference will take a major hit, but by moving forward with a faster paced game that resembles more of the professional version, they are putting themselves at the forefront of what is an inevitable change in college basketball and one that is far more appealing to watch.

The NCAA has already instituted more freedom of movement around the perimeter in hopes to get scoring up, it doesn’t take a doctorate degree to know that giving teams more possessions will also do the trick, but for them to institute the change throughout the entire game is an uphill climb. Underdog teams use the shot clock to their advantage and try to limit possessions in hopes to get the coveted upset and resume building win. They are going to be resistant to any change in the game that is detrimental to their success and to be honest, they are right. On the grand scheme of things, there are only a handful of teams that this will benefit, even if it is for the good of the overall sport. So it is wise for he NCAA to let conferences take the lead in this one and it would be fantastic for the American Conference to take the leadership role.

First off it would lead to more scoring and more scoring leads to better games. No one likes to see games in the high forties to low fifties. It is just not fun to watch teams pass the ball around until the last eight seconds and then take a shot. With the new shot clock, teams will need to attack and then reset right into a play. There will be no double reset of the offense and then a possible trip to the line. It all adds up to a more pleasing and bettered tempo game which is a win-win.

The NCAA has always been a guard oriented game and it will only increase with a new shot clock. Once a team secures a rebound or in-bounds the ball, the guards will need to hurry into their offense right away. Teams like to take that shot around eight seconds to go, so it won’t limit great passing, but what it will do is limit the amount of resets or blatant passing of the ball just to waste time. It will important to have a point guard that can control the sets and that means the more experienced guards will have more of an impact. So those junior and senior guards will have even more of an advantage which is good for the sport.

There are some downsides to a quicker shot clock. The big man is slowly becoming phased out of the college sport. Teams are opting for either a point-forward or tall and athletic wings that can rebound and go with a three guard line-up. With the quicker sets, it will be hard for teams to run low-post sets and reset once a double team comes. It will also effect the offensive rebounding. Teams will have to be more conscious of protecting the outlet pass rather than crashing the boards. Another problem is it might effect American Conference teams from getting out of conference home games simply because teams might shy away from the shorter shot clock if it doesn’t suit their style. On top of that American conference teams will have to get used to playing two distinct styles, one with a longer shot clock and another with a shorter version. It won’t be easy, but the good certainly out ways the negative in this decision.  

This is a perfect opportunity for the new American conference. They have the National Champion in UConn but they are going to have to deal with a soft bottom to the league for the near future but with a new shot clock, they will have an uniqueness about them that will create some much needed buzz and attention. Not only that but it will change many of the styles of play to resemble more of a pro style which will only provide more incentive for high toted recruits. Those top recruits sitting on the fence might be drawn to a conference that plays a more NBA ready style and that infuse of talent across the league should hopefully create a more competitive bottom half of the conference.

Sure it is a bit selfish since a quicker shot clock does play into UConn’s play style which is more of a fast break first and pick and roll second, but for a young conference in American, it is important to not only stay relevant but to be on the forefront of what will be an inevitable change. Hopefully they can institute this change and show that it will be good for the league, because sometimes it is hard for coaches to be open to change if it is not ultimately clear if it is going to help a majority of them right away, but for those coaches they must come to the realization that the time is running out on this slow plodding style of play.

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