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When Minnesota high school basketball adopts a shot clock for the 2023-24 season, teams will not be forced to play defense for an unlimited amount of time. Instead offenses will have 35 seconds to take a shot that at least hits the rim, or the offense will be forced to turn the ball over to the defense.

Shot clock to be used in varsity games starting in 2023-24 season

High school basketball around the state of Minnesota is about to change.

Starting with the 2023-24 season, boys and girls varsity basketball games will use a 35-second shot clock, an element of the game that is a staple at the college and professional level.

And both Forest Lake basketball coaches are excited about the change.

“As a former college basketball player, I love the way the shot clock speeds up the game,” said boys basketball coach Kyle McDonald, who played collegiately at Wisconsin-Eau Claire. “It changes the game, because guys have to be in the right spots and making players quicker because there is less time to run offense.

“I think the shot clock will be a great thing for Minnesota basketball.”

Girls basketball coach Dave Ostercamp also is in favor of the shot clock, adding, “I’ve been looking forward to high school basketball adding a shot clock for a long time.”

The Minnesota State High School League voted unanimously on Dec. 2 to implement the shot clock in varsity games two seasons from now. The shot clock will not be mandatory for junior varsity or other lower levels of play, but it will be allowed if both teams agree before the game to use it.

In the meeting prior to the vote, Tom Critchley, the executive director of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association, cited a report that said 82.7% of coaches around the state favored the move.

One reason for the overwhelming support is that it more closely aligns the high school game with the college game, hopefully allowing young players to make the jump to the next level more easily.

“The college game is quicker and more physical,” McDonald said. “You have to be decisive, you have to get to your spots and get to your shots. And the shot clock is part of the reason why.”

Another reason for the support is that many teams favor a tempo that will not be affected by a shot clock giving an offense only 35 seconds to create a shot.

“It might change some of the things we’re doing, but it will only cause little tweaks here and there,” McDonald said. “It will speed things up on the offensive end. Defensively, the goal is clearer: You have to stay in front of your guy until the shot clock runs out.”

While some coaches might worry that 35 seconds is not enough time to run through an offensive set, Ostercamp does not see that as a problem.

“We’re trying to get the girls to not shoot for 10 seconds,” he said with a laugh. “For most teams, having 35 seconds is not going to affect how they run offense. I would like us to reverse the ball a few times, but we can do that in 20 seconds.”

Ostercamp also thinks the end of close games will be more interesting because of the shot clock.

“At the end of the game, teams [that are behind] can play defense instead of being forced to foul, and I think it will be a more interesting and entertaining game for fans,” he said.

One potential negative effect is that underdogs may have a tougher time pulling upsets because of the shot clock.

“The underdog can’t just hold the ball [and run offense without shooting] – with the shot clock, that’s out the window,” Ostercamp said. “But I don’t think people in general like watching that kind of basketball anyway.”

The main opposition to the shot clock came from those who cited the cost of adding the clock and the difficulties finding someone qualified to run it.

As for the cost of implementation, Forest Lake athletic director Mike Hennen said he already has solved that problem.

“When we put the new scoreboard in a couple of years ago, we added a shot clock,” he said. “We anticipated that it was coming, so we’re set.”

The clock is mounted above the backboards on the baskets at each end of the court, which will allow players to see the game clock as well as the shot clock during game action.

As to the clock itself, finding a skilled operator is more challenging than finding someone to run the game clock, which starts when the referee drops his arm on an inbounds play and runs until the whistle blows. The shot clock must be reset whenever the ball goes into the basket, hits the rim, or is stolen by the other team.

“There’s more nuance to the shot clock, but we have a play clock for football,” Hennen said. “The referees tell you what to do and how to do it, so I don’t anticipate any problems.”

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