This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Then-Brighton guard Bryce Callahan stood isolated at midcourt in the 2012-13 Class 5A semifinals. He remained stationary, as the nation's top-ranked Lone Peak Knights waited for seven minutes.
The Bengals stalled for a total of 11 minutes in an attempt to mitigate their more-talented opponent. Lone Peak eventually captured the state title and mythical national championship after its 14-7 halftime lead mushroomed in the second half once Brighton ditched the controversial tactic. The events of that evening left an indelible image of stalling and invigorated the discussion of introducing a shot clock in Utah high school basketball.
Three years later, the discussion is still raging, and Brighton coach Jeff Gardner is one of the advocates in favor of restricted time on offense.
"I'm a proponent for the shot clock, always have been," Gardner said. "But as a coach, that's outside of my jurisdiction. My job is to give our team the best chance of winning, regardless of whether that's what the crowd wants to see."
The Tribune conducted an anonymous survey to gauge the stance of shot clock installment by contacting every local prep basketball coach for both genders, either by text or email. Collectively, 158 (90 boys' coaches, 68 girls') responded within 48 hours.
The feedback was staggering: 81 percent voted as supporters for the shot clock. Boys' coaches (73 of 89) voted 82 percent and girls' coaches (53 of 65) voted 81 percent. Four coaches three for girls' programs voted neutrally, and were not included.
Boys' coaches in the 5A classification voted 92 percent in favor, with a 24-to-2 disparity (two coaches did not submit responses). Class 4A voted 91 percent, with a 21-2 ratio, including five non-votes. Twelve of 13 Class 3A coaches voted supportive, with eight non-votes. Seven of 13 coaches in 2A were in favor, with nine non-votes. Nine of 14 Class 1A coaches voted positive, with 15 non-votes and one neutral.
Seventeen of 20 girls' coaches in Class 5A voted supportive, with seven non-votes and one neutral. Class 4A voted with a 14-1 ratio, with 13 non-votes. Coaches from 3A voted 7-3, with 10 non-votes and one neutral. Ten of 11 coaches from 2A voted in favor, with 10 non-votes and one neutral. Five of nine 1A coaches voted positively, with 20 non-votes.
The majority of the proponents also recognized the hurdles associated with shot clocks in high school.
The NCAA introduced a 45-second shot clock which has been progressively lowered to 30 seconds in men's basketball for the 1985-86 season.
Years prior, former longtime North Carolina coach Dean Smith, considered one of the best coaches of all time, popularized the four corners offense, which emphasized a deliberate approach to evaporate time.
Detractors, such as Brighton girls' coach Jim Gresh, believe the addition of a shot clock restricts strategy.
Gresh highlighted a personal example when former Bingham girls' coach Rand Rasmussen, who retired with 465 career victories, deflated possessions against his "run-and-gun" team in an eventual upset.
"If there's a shot clock, I'm probably going to beat him [by] 10 to 15 points, but he stalled and beat me, 28-23," Gresh said. "… He used great strategy to beat me. If you have a shot clock, then I think all the teams with the best athletes are going to win."
Northridge boys' coach Lyndon Johnson disagreed.
"I know coaches argue it takes control out of their hands," Johnson said. "I think it makes coaches have to coach harder because you have to run a play in 30 or 35 seconds."
Those opposed claim the system isn't broken. There are extreme cases, such as Herriman's 35-24 win against Riverton and Bingham's 34-25 victory over West Jordan, but before Friday, boys' programs statewide have averaged 56.9 points per game during the month of January, equating to 1.7 points per minute; girls averaged 43.6 points, or 1.3 points per minute.
Aside from the end of each half, where teams typically delay in excess of a minute for the final shot, most possessions rarely classify as stalling, which then raises the question: Is installing shot clocks logical financially?
According to a report by the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the lowest amount for one shot clock from Daktronics is $5,000, which does not include additional electrical and mounting costs.
UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff said there is potential for the initial costs to be covered by sponsorship from boosters, but schools would be responsible for ongoing payments to someone running the shot clock, which could range anywhere between $20-50 for home games, including JV and sophomores.
"Sometimes we have a hard time just getting enough people on the table to keep score," said Syracuse boys' coach Troy Anderson.
Another ramification of installation is the forfeiture of representation with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). Rules committees rotate representation, with states adhering to all the rules in the NFHS rulebook. Utah is part of Section 7, with Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. California relinquished its rights to serve on the national basketball rules committee after electing to use shot clocks.
"Our board has always wanted representation on those committees," Cuff said when asked if losing the spot was a major encumbrance. "It's one of several ways our state can get involved nationally."
California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington are the only states currently using shot clocks, according to Cuff.
The natural inclination regarding a shot clock is it encourages offense, but restricted time actually rewards strong defense. Instead of bunkering down for 30-40 seconds and boxing out, defenses can be lulled to sleep by extended possessions.
Forcing opponents to shoot in an allotted time allows teams to orchestrate fourth-quarter comebacks, as well. Currently, if facing a three-possession deficit with five minutes remaining, teams resort to fouling, essentially creating a glorified free-throw shooting contest.
Timpview converted 22 of 26 free throws in the fourth quarter in its win against Corner Canyon, which trailed by double figures most of the evening on Friday.
"I'd like to be able to tell [my] team, 'Hey, if we can get three or four stops, we can get back into the game,' " said Wasatch boys' coach Jason Long. "… There would be so much more exciting basketball at the end of games."
Restricted time also assists in the development of players, who steadily learn to accelerate urgency, which leads to sharpened cuts to create separation, crisper sets and more opportunities to make plays. Shot clocks, obviously, also eliminate teams from stalling without any intent to score.
"Am I opposed to stalling? Yes," Cuff said. "There's a fine line [between] stalling, or coming out to try to win a game with inferior players."
Shot clocks in Utah?
Cuff said the board of directors has not discussed the issue of shot clocks during the 15 years he's been at the UHSAA, but they have addressed the need for a mercy rule, which he said would need to be introduced alongside shot clocks, as more blowouts would be induced with teams forced to shoot with lopsided leads. "I think those would have to be talked about together," he said.
Softball and baseball employ the 10-run rule, and running clocks begin with an eight-goal deficit in soccer and 35-point margin in football.
Cuff said he personally is not opposed to installing shot clocks. As a former coach who won two state championships coaching boys' basketball at Mountain View, he's cognizant of both sides of the argument.
He said if the membership, which consists of coaches and administrators, made a strong argument for implementing shot clocks, "then I know the board would be willing to address anything they want to bring forward."
Shot clocks in Utah high school basketball?
The Tribune conducted an anonymous survey to gauge the stance of shot clock installment by contacting every local prep head basketball coach of both genders, either by text or email. Collectively, 158 (90 boys' coaches, 68 girls') responded within 48 hours, with 81 percent voting as advocates.
Boys' coaches' votes:
Class 5A • 24 in favor, two opposed, two no-votes.
Class 4A • 21 in favor, two opposed, five no-votes.
Class 3A • 12 in favor, one opposed, eight no-votes.
Class 2A • Seven in favor, six opposed, nine no-votes.
Class 1A • Nine in favor, five opposed, 15 no-votes, one neutral.
Girls' coaches' votes:
Class 5A • 17 in favor, three opposed, seven no-votes, one neutral.
Class 4A • 14 in favor, one opposed, 13 no-votes.
Class 3A • Seven in favor, three opposed, 10 no-votes, one neutral.
Class 2A • Ten in favor, one opposed, 10 no-votes, one neutral.
Class 1A • Five in favor, four opposed, 20 no-votes.
Using clocks already
California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington are the only states currently using shot clocks, thus forfeiting their representation on the National Federation of State High School Associations rules committee.