ST. PAUL -- Shot clocks are finally coming to Minnesota high school basketball.
The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors approved a motion to mandate the implementation of shot clocks to the varsity levels of boys and girls basketball, starting with the 2023-24 season. No board member voted against the motion.
The shot clock will be 35 seconds per possession.
Currently, teams can use shot clocks in regular-season non-conference games and tournaments if they have the equipment and choose to use it. In two years, it will be required. The mandate only exists for the varsity level, though schools can use them at lower levels, should both schools in any game agree to it.
The shot clock debate has spanned years in Minnesota, with advocates describing the improved quality of play and skill development derived from a possession’s time constraint.
Gone will be the days of teams holding the ball for minutes on end — with the most notable example coming in 2014, when Hopkins’ boys team did so against Shakopee in overtime of the state tournament semifinals.
That’s not to say those instances were frequent, but they were possibilities on any given night.
Minneapolis North boys basketball coach Larry McKenzie said the addition of the shot clock will lead to increases in pace, strategy, defensive intensity and flow.
“Having the shot clock is an opportunity to put fans back in the stands. It creates a level of excitement,” said McKenzie, whose team will play a pair of games with a shot clock this season in Sioux Falls, S.D. “The game is changing. The evolution of the game is changing.”
Opponents of adding the clocks often cited cost, both to install the clock and pay another worker to run it during games.
Tom Critchley, the executive director of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association, said Daktronics estimated the cost of installing one of its clocks at $3,700, a number that would be lower if a school already had a Daktronics scoreboard.
“I think back to my days as a principal, when it seemed like we always needed that new lunch table, some extra desk, some extra locks, some whiteboards, etcetera, that resulted after our budgets had been forwarded,” Critchley said. “Bottom line, we’ve always found a way to do it.”
Support to require the clock was overwhelming across the state. Critchley and Pat Barrett, the MSHSL’s liaison for the Minnesota Girls Basketball Coaches Association, said 83 percent of coaches polled wanted the requirement, while an MSHSL survey showed 75 percent of schools were in favor of the move.
Critchley noted some states — such as Maryland, North Dakota and California — have had shot clocks for decades. Wisconsin voted to implement a shot clock in 2017, only to renege on that decision months later.
Iowa, Georgia, Arkansas and Arizona plan to join the shot clock revolution next season.
Now, in two years, Minnesota will join the party.
“I see it as the next step in basketball,” Barrett said, “for us continuing to grow as a state in basketball, and be recognized nationwide.”