Football season is winding down and we are two weeks away from a champion being crowned in Class AAAA. However, basketball season is gearing up, so as we transition, Tuesday blogs will be dedicated to basketball for the remainder of the football state playoffs.
By David Purdum / For the AJC
After the scoring plummeted to a 30-year low last season, college basketball revised how the game was officiated.
This season’s points of emphasis included: reducing hand-checking; limiting how post-defenders are allowed to use their arms, and giving offensive players the benefit of the doubt on block/charge calls. The early results have been higher-scoring games with many more fouls.
Should high school basketball follow the college game’s lead?
Chestatee girls coach Web Daniel believes so.
“In every officiating rules clinic, they say they’re going to call it more,” said Daniel. “But I don’t think they call it enough. Truthfully, they could call it every play. If you watch games, they can tend to be played more like football. They’re just so physical. I know they want to let the kids play, especially in the tournament, but I think basketball should be more of a finesse game.”
In last season’s boys AAAA state playoffs, Eagle’s Landing beat Albany 39-13 in a first-round game. It was the lowest-scoring game in the state playoffs in 65 years, according to Becky Taylor of the Georgia Basketball Project, and prompted calls for a shot clock to be added to the high school game.
Eight states have implemented shot clocks at the high school level. Coaches see both sides of the shot-clock debate. Adding one would certainly force the action, but it also would eliminate some of the strategy used by under-manned teams attempting to stay in games by slowing them down.
Daniel would like to see a shot clock implemented, but also admits that he takes advantage of not having one currently.
“We’ll stall the ball a lot against better teams, when we’re up,” Daniel said. “It’s one of our strategies.”
In addition to the impact on strategy, cost is another thing preventing a shot clock to being added. In addition to the cost of the actual clock and installation, it would require another trained official or volunteer to operate it.
Columbia boys coach Kerry Sandifer isn’t for adding a shot clock.
“Obviously, if you have a lot of talent—and we’ve been blessed—it can be favorable for you,” Sandifer said. “But without it, I think it gives other teams a chance to strategize and be competitive.”
Sandifer says he believes officials have done a good job of reducing hand-checking. He added that he would like to see the 3-point line moved back a few feet. It is currently at 19 feet, 9 inches. At the college level, the line was pushed back to 20 feet, six inches in 2007.
“To me, the game is too perimeter-oriented,” said Sandifer. “I’d like to see more inside play. Even the big guys, they all want step out and get behind that 3-point line.”
–The Chestatee girls are off to an impressive start, with a win over AAAAAA power Collins Hill and a one-point loss to another big perennial power in Mill Creek.
“This is the best offensive team we’ve had,” said Daniel, who has led the War Eagles to the Sweet 16 four of the last five years. “We’ve changed our philosophy to become more guard-oriented, because I think when it comes to the state tournament, it’s about guard play.”
–Crisp County forward Nasheema Oliver signed her letter-of-intent with the University of Georgia on Nov. 17. “Nasheema defies logic,” UGA coach Andy Landers said during a November press conference announcing the signings. “You look at her and wouldn’t think that she’s as mobile or even as graceful as she is. But she is. She can play you inside. She can play you outside. She can score. She’s an excellent rebounder. To say that she could be a presence inside is somewhat of an understatement.”