Editorials

No and no again

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oh, how we hate to disagree with our Sports Editor Joe Marchilena but disagree we do about his column last week calling for a shot clock in high school basketball.

Joe, you see, is frustrated because some teams choose to hold the ball and run what has euphemistically come to be called a “four corners offense.” Indeed, Joe would argue, it’s no offense at all because the team running it just … well, runs around and doesn’t shoot.

Best known for this offense were the North Carolina teams of Dean Smith who perfected this form of basketball before the NCAA adopted, first, the 45 second clock and, as it stands now, the 35 second shot clock. One of the most notable of Smith’s uses of the “offense” was in a 1979 game when Smith ran the offense for the entire first half and Duke led 7­0 … after 20 minutes of basketball. Carolina’s only two shots of the first half were air balls, according to Wikipedia.

We understand Joe’s frustration and had he been present at the N.C­. Duke game all those years ago, well, we can imagine his chagrin. But…

The problem with a shot clock at any level of basketball is that it too often destroys the team concept of the game. Watch any NBA game and nearly any college game and what you see is a few players, some of them actually skilled, hogging the ball and just shooting, shooting, shooting. It’s a game of stats.

College players pad their stats to get drafted and make millions. Pro players pad their stats to head for free agency and make more millions.

Why set high school players up to be stats nuts? One can argue that high school coaches will be able, or at least should be able, to instill discipline in their kids, but come on. We all know that kids would rather be LeBron James than Bill Bradley. (He used to play a real team game with the Knicks, kids, when the Knicks had a decent team.)

The absence of a shot clock can lead to one team holding the ball but it can also lead to strategic elements that are absent when a shot clock isn’t. We don’t want to see high school basketball in New Hampshire become like the run­and­gun college and pro games.

We love ya, Joe, and, to paraphrase Voltaire, we shall defend to the death your right to be off base on this one.

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