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Surveyed coaches want shorter shot clock, but is that guaranteed to improve offensive production?

Jay Wright

Jay Wright


With the NCAA announcing last week that it will experiment with a 30-second shot clock throughout the Postseason NIT, many have wondered if this will lead to a permanent change in the near future. In a poll conducted by Jeff Goodman of, nearly 60 percent of college basketball coaches surveyed would like to see the 30-second shot clock become the standard.

Amongst the others polled, approximately 30 percent would prefer the clock remain at 35 percent and ten percent want the shot clock lowered to 24 seconds. The NBA and FIBA use a 24-second shot clock, and this is one reason why some coaches support a move to 24 seconds.

“I think we should all have a 24-second shot,” Villanova coach Jay Wright told ESPN. “Consistent. It’s NBA and international. We should all learn to play the game the same way. The game is still the game. Everything you do to the game, everyone’s adjusted.”

“We are only country that doesn’t have 24 seconds,” Central Florida assistant Tim Thomas added. “There are [15-year-olds] in FIBA competition all over the world that are able to play with a 24-second shot clock. But we can’t?”

But the question needs to be asked: would shortening the shot clock truly speed up the game?

According to the average possession in Division I basketball has taken just over 18 seconds (18.3 to be exact) this season. And that’s with more than half of the 351 teams currently having an adjusted tempo of 65.1 (the national average) or lower.

Shooting percentages and scoring averages have decreased in recent years, but I don’t believe changing the shot clock is the remedy. There were initiatives to increase freedom of movement but that didn’t have the desired effect, nor was there the level of consistency needed to ensure that the changes would take hold and impact the game for the better.

With games turning into whistle-laden contests that left many complaining about the resulting parade to the foul line and lack of flow to games, the physicality slowly creeped back to where it was before the changes were made.

If there are any words that stick out in the quest to improve offensive production in college basketball, it was what Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga said following his team’s 90-74 win at Duke in mid-January.

“We don’t run offense, we play offense.”

That simple comment was one that grabbed people’s attention, as the Hurricanes let their guards go to work in ball-screen situations as opposed to running structured sets that can (in some cases) be easier to disrupt.

With the resources available to college programs being what they are today, with analytics websites and video programs such as Synergy being far more detailed than what was accessible in the past, there are fewer “secrets” in games. Add in the freedom of movement issue, and offensive production tends to drop even if possession length hasn’t changed a whole lot.

If college basketball looks to change the shot clock to be more in line with other leagues (the women use a 30-second clock), that’s one thing. But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to assume that shortening the clock automatically means that games will speed up and points will become more plentiful.