Local hoop coaches discuss shot clock

Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Heritage Hills boys basketball coach Nate Hawkins said he hadn't really thought about high school basketball implementing the shot clock, but he wouldn't have a problem with it.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

The debate of using a shot clock in high school basketball took a big step forward last week.

The National Federation of State High School Associations announced on May 13 that a 35-second shot clock would be permitted in high school basketball starting in 2022-23. States will be allowed, but not required, to implement the shot clock. The states that currently use a shot clock are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington and, beginning in 2022-23, Georgia.

Some local basketball coaches gave their opinions on how they feel about the matter.

“It helps the game progress, and it (mimics) more of what you see at the next level,” Jasper girls basketball coach Jessica Mehringer said. “And maybe I’m a proponent for that because I came from that level before.”

“I have voted 'no' in the past in the couple years, and that’s been the consensus with the coaches that I’ve talked to,” Northeast Dubois girls basketball coach Andy Chinn said. “High school basketball is so unique, and especially in Indiana, as you know. I think it takes away a lot of strategy if you throw a shot clock on some of these kids, and the reason that we’ve been against it is where do you start the shot clock?

“Is it something you have to start teaching at a young age?” Chinn continued. “We’ve been having our youth basketball camps. Should I have to start teaching them about the shot clock?”

Chinn said, though, that he is “very open” to changing his mind on the subject, and whatever is passed is passed. He said Northeast Dubois will approach it however the majority of people decide what's best.

The shot clock hasn’t always been on everybody’s radars, but this announcement by the NFHS has led some to start thinking about it.

“Personally, I don’t have a problem with it,” Heritage Hills boys basketball coach Nate Hawkins said. “I think change is good, and I think that if you’ve seen our teams play, we usually get a shot off before 35 seconds is up anyway.

"I don’t think that it’s much of a problem on that from that standpoint, and I do understand how some teams — maybe they play a little more methodical, and maybe they would be opposed to it,” Hawkins added. “But I think it could be something that could be good, and I think that everybody in the state would adjust and it would be just fine.”

The likes of Chinn and Mehringer have both had to deal with the adjustment of having a shot clock and not having a shot clock. Chinn went from playing without a shot clock at Tell City to having one at the University of Evansville.

“We used to work on different drills in practice — I can remember one drill we used to work on at U of E was basically adopt the shot clock,” he said. “The team would only have 15 seconds on the clock and we would work on that. In high school, you work on end of game situations and end of quarter situations when the clock’s running down, whereas in college, that is something that you have to practice every week because every possession has a shot clock on it.”

Mehringer, meanwhile, had to deal with the same situation in reverse — coaching at Oakland City University before coaching at Jasper.

“It was an adjustment,” she said. “Luckily, I was able to be an assistant and kind of learn from the late game situations. Phil Kendall was the varsity assistant. He was excellent at late game, with quarter situations and managing the clock. So, (I) really learned a lot from him about that before getting into the role where I went from a volunteer assistant to being the head coach.”

Hawkins knows a shot clock would also be an adjustment for coaches and not just players. After all, he has won five sectional championships and two regional championships as a head coach, and he was an assistant coach when Forest Park won back-to-back Class 2A state championships in 2005 and 2006.

“If you are in the shot clock era, how are you going to handle those late situations in the clock?” he asked. “It gets to 10 seconds or less, and everybody’s scrambling. The coaches are going to have to make sure that their kids are prepared to know, ‘Hey, this is what we do if we get under 10, under five seconds in the clock, and this is what we got to go to.’”

Some of these programs have sent their players onto the collegiate level in recent years. Heritage Hills has 2020 graduate Murray Becher playing at the University of Indianapolis, while 2021 grad Blake Sisley is set to continue his college career at the University of Evansville. Jasper, meanwhile, has sent 2020 graduate Claire Knies to play at Bellarmine University, and 2021 graduate Emma Shelton will be playing at Ohio Christian University.

The coaches who spoke to the Herald all saw the upside that a shot clock would help players get ready for the next level if they were able to play in college.

“It definitely would help them get adjusted to the pace of play,” Mehringer said. “I think that would probably be the biggest advantage of it for those girls that are college-bound or wanting to play college basketball. It might help them be ready a little faster than they would be otherwise.”

However, the coaches also gave their opinion on whether they think Indiana will adopt a shot clock in addition to whether it should.

“I have not really talked to too many people else outside of our little Southern Indiana area about it, but I really don’t know they will or not, but it seems like there’s a little momentum that they may not want to do that,” Hawkins said. “But I think it’s something that they’ll definitely take a strong look at before just automatically stepping up and saying ‘no’ to it. We’ll see how it goes, and I’m sure they’ll make the best decision for the state of Indiana."

“I just think that there are a lot of coaches that value the way things are played, and high school experience will probably be a factor in that it being its own experience and not trying to push a faster pace of play to all schools or all teams where it could take away strategy from certain schools or coaches that like to play slower, slow things down — that kind of thing,” Mehringer said.

“I think with only high school varsity boys basketball games being 32 minutes, it’s just hard for me to see a shot clock coming to our game,” Chinn said.




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