Reader feedback from last Tuesday's column, for which I actually wrote very little, was so positive that I'm thinking of having someone else write all my columns.
Last week area basketball coaches were asked five questions. Because of the number of responses I ran out of room and decided to take two weeks off instead of just one.
So, as promised, here is what area basketball coaches had to say about halves instead of quarters and the possibility of a shot clock for prep games.
Question No. 4: What are your thoughts on halves as opposed to quarters? How has it changed your coaching style?
Staples-Motley boys' coach Lynn Peterson: "I love the halves and the game extension. Better flow. More kids do play. More points equal more interest."
Brainerd Warrior head boys' basketball coach Matt Urbanek is one of the area coaches who would welcome the addition of a shot clock. Brainerd Dispatch/File photo » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd girls' coach Carl Hendrickson: "I like the halves. Sometimes you wish the half was over, especially when teams get on a roll and you can't stop it. The team has to be in good shape physically if you don't have good depth. So you have to try to develop depth throughout the season. You have to make use of your timeouts when your team looks tired. The longer half and foul trouble early could put your game out of reach without depth."
Pierz girls' coach Rick Sczublewski: "I like the halves. We play more people in our rotation because of it. The games seem to have more flow if the teams are of equal ability. I really don't notice the difference much anymore."
Brainerd boys' coach Matt Urbanek: "I like halves better. The game seems to flow better without the quarter breaks and the extra two minutes per half has been a positive change as well. It has not changed my coaching style very much, although it allows for more bench use because of the extra two minutes per half, so we do play more kids in the normal rotation."
Pine River-Backus boys' coach Matt Moen: "I think that halves have improved the transition or flow of the game. You are allowed to keep the game moving and you avoid constant stoppage of play. Being a young coach the transition was rather smooth for myself. I think the players enjoy the halves more as well. You are able to maintain spurts and momentum for longer periods of time. Some nights that can go against you as well."
Pequot Lakes boys' coach Garry Grewe: "I like halves, mainly because the kids like halves. I was against halves until my kids said they liked it. It has not really changed my coaching style except to say that I try to develop more depth on my bench."
Crosby-Ironton girls' coach Randy Swanhorst: "I have been supportive of the increase in time for basketball. I do like the opportunity for a better flow to a game and I agree that subbing generally increases and to me it seems easier to sub kids. I felt that in quarter play, the short time frames made it tougher to sub and made the breakdown of time within those frames more critical. My change in coaching style has been to develop a deeper rotation, which in turn, keeps more kids happy."
Finally, Question No. 5: There has been talk about a shot clock. What changes would you like to see to the game?
Peterson: "I think the game is very good now. A shot clock would keep teams from playing keep away and play ball. Also, a shot clock would eliminate a lot of fouling near the end of the game."
Hendrickson: "The shot clock just adds more strategy to the game even though most teams would shoot the ball way before the shot clock runs out.
"I would like to see the rule change where players can block out on free throws as soon as it leaves the shooter's hand instead of hitting the rim. That took a lot of strategy out of the free throw spots and blocking out."
Urbanek: "I think the shot clock would be a very positive change. It would actually reward good defensive play because the defense can force the offense to take a rushed shot if they can play strong defense for 35 seconds. It would also add more strategy at
the end of a game. Teams wouldn't be forced to foul as much to get the ball back. They could play strong defense and be assured of getting the ball back. It would mean fewer games would be decided in the final minute on the free throw line and would be decided with offensive and defensive execution, which would be positive for the game. It would also add more excitement for players and fans."
Sczublewski: "I have heard that the shot clock may be coming in the near future. The problem is that it requires another competent person to run it. A shot clock could be a money issue for some schools, too. I personally would not mind seeing a shot clock in high school basketball.
"I think playing 26 games is a lot for a player. Most teams play that many games now and it just doesn't give the players time to recover physically after games or to work on things in practice that they need to improve on. I remember when we only played 18 games in a season in the '80s. The problem is that everyone is trying to 'keep up with the Joneses' and you are at a competitive disadvantage if you do not play your full quota of games.
"I personally think our game has improved tremendously over the 26 years I have coached at Pierz because the athletes of today are bigger, stronger and are doing more to make themselves better basketball players in the offseason today than they ever have. The kids are making the game better and better."
Moen: "I would like to see them incorporate a shot clock into the high school game (45 or 55 seconds). My main concern is how are schools going to pay for them and who is going to run them? There has to be some training involved in the operation of the clock and where is the funding going to come from?"
Grewe: "A shot clock is not a needed change. Most high school teams simply can't or don't hold the ball for that long anyway. I think this is fueled by the big schools and the AAU people who want the game to look more like the college game. We don't need it. I like the game the way it is right now."
Swanhorst: "I do not favor shot clocks. I feel it will take strategy away from coaches and players. I guess I think too much is dictated by the fans enjoyment and the entertainment value. People want to see scoring and fast breaks. I personally am impressed with a team's ability to take care of the ball and manage the clock.
"There are certainly two sides to this issue but my take is that most teams do not have the patience or ability to hold the ball long anyway.
"The benefit I see would be the opportunity to get the ball back from a team near the end of a game when down by a close margin without having to foul."
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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