ScreenHunter_81 Aug. 28 08.29

Does college hoops need a shorter shot clock?

Today Eamonn Brennan and Myron Medcalf debated the college shot clock, with Brennan arguing for the NBA's :24 second clock, and Medcalf defending the status quo. And both made good points. Brennan wants a more fluid, entertaining game (whatever "entertaining" means), and thinks consistency with the NBA would be a good thing.

To point one, I happened to find Kentucky a pretty entertaining team to watch last season. And guess what? Their tempo (66.2 possessions per game) was exactly average in college basketball. What was wrong with that? The Wildcats took 35% of their shots in the first :10 seconds of the shot clock, whereas an uptempo team (North Carolina) took 49% of their shots in the first :10 seconds. I don't want to force every team to play the same style as North Carolina. Eliminating (or severely reducing) the styles would mean no more Wisconsin. No more Michigan. No more Georgetown or UConn. No more Syracuse. No more Michigan State.

No thanks.

To point two (consistency with the NBA) – who cares?

Medcalf, for his part, argued that diversion from the NBA is what makes college hoops special. In the NBA, he says that there are "five teams with a legitimate shot at the championship. The beauty of college basketball, however, is that a chunk of the 68 squads that enter the NCAA tournament have a chance."

And with this, I agree. To a point.

Yes, the longer shot clock allows for more variation in style, and that variation makes game planning on short turnarounds a challenge. But I also think it is currently balanced in favor of teams who want to slow it down. It's easier for them to dominate the tempo. Here's what I wrote in April, immediately following the NCAA Tournament, as one of five rules that needs to be changed.

"Shorten the shot clock: Ten years ago there were nearly 68 possessions in an average college basketball game. Now there are a record low 66, and the trend over that 10-year period is decidedly downward. More and more coaches are figuring out that it's a lot easier to control the tempo if you want to slow things down than it is if you want to speed things up. And one thing coaches crave is control.

I don't think the shot-clock needs a radical reinvention. The :24 second clock in the NBA is unrealistic and unneeded at this level. But reducing it by about 10% should be closer to the magic line where one style cannot dominate over another style. So I'm proposing a :31 second clock.

Everyone enjoys games with more action. And a simple reduction in a few seconds would do that without unfairly benefiting certain styles."