The Brainerd Warriors and Moorhead Spuds boys' basketball teams will attempt to beat the clock.
Before the 2007-08 season, the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association approved an experiment to allow teams to play games with a 35-second shot clock. Teams could use the shot clock only in non-conference games and if both coaches agreed to it.
Teams have 35 seconds in which to attempt a shot. If a shot is missed and rebounded by the offensive team, it gets a fresh 35 seconds. The clock will be shut off in the final 35 seconds of a half or overtime.
The Warrior boys will use the shot clock for the first time in Saturday's 6:30 p.m. home game against Section 8-4A opponent Moorhead.Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
The Warrior boys will use the clock for the first time in Saturday's 6:30 p.m. home game against Section 8-4A opponent Moorhead. Warriors coach Matt Urbanek found a willing participant in Spuds coach Chuck Gulsvig, whose teams have played with a clock for years.
Brainerd will bring in portable clocks from either St. Cloud State University or Central Lakes College for the game.
Urbanek said the shot-clock proposal has been tossed around by the MBCA the last few years before receiving approval.
"I think part of the reason it didn't pass is we didn't have any real hard evidence how it would improve the game," he said. "There was a lot of speculation about how it would improve the game. A lot of coaches agreed it would bring some excitement and positive elements to the game."
Urbanek said some coaches and fans have been skeptical about a shot clock, with some believing it will hurry teams into the front court.
"I actually think it encourages defense," he said. "Some people think it encourages offense and quick shots. I think it convinces a team to buy into playing aggressive, hard-nosed defense. There's a chance it will force the other team to rush or take a quick shot, and that plays into the hands of a good defensive team.
"I think it also improves the end of a game. I think it will create more strategy. It will allow teams that play defense to get the ball back in close situations rather than create a sloppy game where you have to foul to get the ball back and count on a free throw contest."
The coach or activities directors of schools that use the clock, and one game official, are required to file a report with the Minnesota State High School League on the number of times the clock sounded, the number of shot clock violations, whether the clock was a factor in the game, whether there were problems with clock operation, whether there was correct enforcement of the rule and whether to keep the experiment, adopt it permanently or drop it.
"I think it will be a good experience for our players and fans to use it, see it in action and get a sneak preview," Urbanek said.
Gulsvig said he has been a "strong proponent" of Minnesota using a clock.
The 8-0 Spuds have used the clock three times this season, Dec. 15 at Fargo North and against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and Pelican Rapids in their Christmas tournament. North Dakota high school teams have been using a 35-second clock for years. The Spuds also play in Canada, which uses a 30-second clock.
"A lot of times it will change the way teams play defense," Gulsvig said. "The selling point with kids is that they don't have to play defense that long. You play defense for 35 seconds and you're going to get the ball back.
"If a team is very deliberate and had to play with a shot clock, it would be uncomfortable. You would have to change some things. We've been playing a shot clock in North Dakota for six or seven years and we haven't changed anything.
"We had a few problems but when we were a slower team we still managed. I think we had two violations in one game. Maybe we took quicker shots, but I think the pluses outweigh the minuses."
Gulsvig believes the "real beauty" of the shot clock is when a team is trailing near the end of a game and it doesn't have to foul to get the ball back.
"You can still keep playing your game," he said. "The other team is not able to get methodical, which happens toward tournament time when the shot clock would even the playing field."
Expense may be the only drawback. Gulsvig estimated shot clocks range from $2,200 to $3,200. In addition to the regular scoreboard clock operator, another separate person must operate the shot clock.
Unfortunately in an era of shrinking funds for athletics, school districts may have a difficult time producing money for shot clocks until the change becomes permanent.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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