- Marcus Hartman
After winning in court, the Dunbar boys’ basketball team won on the court last night against Fenwick.
I wasn’t there, but it sounds like it was a fairly strange game.
The Wolverines prevailed 27-26 in a game that had more standing than playing in the second half.
Fittingly, the game also was an oddity. Fenwick (17-7) was packed in a tight zone defense like it had mostly used to win a Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North championship. Dunbar hoped to draw the Falcons out by holding the ball.
Instead, the final four minutes of the third quarter and the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter were spent with Dunbar players standing still with the ball and Fenwick defenders watching motionless.
This of course will draw more calls for the OHSAA to implement a shot clock, something it should not do.
The shot clock works, sort of, in the NBA because the players are so incredibly talented — most importantly because almost everyone can shoot, which is the opposite of how things are at every other level of basketball.
Since NBA players can consistently finish possessions successfully out of a variety of situations, the game remains entertaining.
That league still endured a noticeable scoring dip and terrible pace-of-play issues in the late 1990s and early 2000s, though, which is further proof the shot clock isn’t an answer for anyone else.
It brings diminishing returns because it punishes teams that are good at running offense and rewards those who just want to muck things up by forcing teams to shoot even when there is no shot to take.
Who said there should be a time limit on how long a team has to play good defense?
Like anyone else, I don’t want to see a team simply hold the ball, but that can be prevented by guarding them.
And if a team is able to play keep away while being closely guarded? More power to them. Handling the ball and passing are basketball skills just as much as shooting. It’s all part of the game.
College coaches who want to still manage to play a slow-down game, and scoring at that level was higher before the shot clock was installed.
The recent scoring uptick in college are more from actually calling fouls (and many teams responding by playing less physically) than by shaving five seconds off the shot clock.
The only way for a shot clock to have a significant effect on pace of play is to be so short that teams don’t have time to set up an offense at all, which I’ve never seen anyone advocate.
As mentioned, the remedy for teams holding the ball is already in place thanks to the five-second rule.
Fenwick knew what it was doing when it got into a zone last night.
Since the Wolverines had the lead, Dunbar was smart to hold the ball if it didn’t feel it could beat that zone consistently.
Fenwick could have stopped this easily by getting out of the zone, but they didn’t.
Both coaches said as much in our other story from last night.
“I was expecting a decent scoring game, but it’s tournament time. You’ve got to do what you have to do to win the game,” Wolverines coach Chuck Taylor said. “We thought Fenwick did a good job packing it in on our big guy and our shots wouldn’t fall, so we just decided if we got a lead, we had to make those guys play man-to-man.
“We put the ball in their court. If they wanted to sit back, we were going to hold the ball.”
Fenwick coach Pat Kreke said he had no regrets.
“It wasn’t a good game to watch, but if I didn’t think it was working to our advantage, we’d have come out of the zone right away,” Kreke said. “I thought that was to our advantage, and we had a shot to win. I thought the kids played their butts off.”
Good enough for me.
The bottom line is the shot clock works as a disincentive to running good offense without really encouraging teams to play fast either, which means it isn’t worth it as far as I’m concerned.
Next up for Dunbar is a district final against Cincinnati Woodward on Saturday in Hamilton…
Meanwhile, the next basketball game that counts Justin Ahrens will play will be in an Ohio State uniform.
Ahrens’ Versailles team was knocked out of the Division III tournament by Cincinnati Madeira last night.
The Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year had 13 points while twin brother AJ led the Tigers with 15.
On the bright side for Versailles, the Tigers girls’ team is still going after a throttling of Williamsburg.