WIAA approves basketball shot clock starting with 2019-2020 season

By Cara L. Dempski

STEVENS POINT — Basketball players in the Class of 2020 and after will see a new challenge starting with the 2019-2020 season.

Members of the class of 2020 will be the first graduating class subjected to a shot clock after the WIAA Board of Control decided June 22 to implement a 35-second limit during varsity basketball games. At least one area coach believes the move will give good teams an advantage because it removes the ability for players to run time off the clock.

[emember_protected] Ben Luer, Boyceville’s head boys’ basketball coach, used the 1954 Indiana boys’ state basketball championship team, featured in the 1986 film ‘Hoosiers’ as an example. The team won the championship that year on a last-second shot after stalling for an opening.

“Would Milan High School have won the 1954 Indiana State championship if stalling wasn’t an option?” Luer asked. “It does take away the underdog stories.”

Still, the Bulldog coach does not believe the time limit will change too many game outcomes since most teams no longer stall as a game-winning tactic. Luer also said 35 seconds is still plenty of time to set up, and fire off a shot.

Boyceville’s head coach also indicated the shot clock does change coaching strategy slightly in certain situations. For example, one team might put a soft press on another over the full court to make the opposing team feel more rushed once across the half-court line.

Elk Mound’s head coach, Mike Kessler, agreed with Luer.

“One of the beauties of high school basketball is when a team who plays at a fast pace goes against a team who plays slow. In those matchups it is interesting to see which team can dictate the tempo,” Kessler wrote in response to an emailed inquiry. “I think the advantage now goes to the team who plays fast. I could be wrong, but it will be interesting to see how much it actually changes games like that.”

The shot clock was not the only change coming for basketball teams. Coaches qualifying for the state tournament will determine the seeds in each division starting with the 2017-2018 season. Any ties that occur will be broken by a representative of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.

The number of players allowed to suit up for tournament series play will increase to 18, with a total limit of 22, next season, and the coaching box doubled in size from 14 feet to 28 for all levels.

Finally, the board voted to convene the basketball coaches advisory committee following the 2017 area meetings to discuss the merits of a recently-created basketball tournament placement model. Full details of the new model and its implementation will be presented to the Board of Control at the January 31, 2018, meeting.

The general placement model presented indicates schools will be assigned on a geographical basis in five divisions. Division 1 schools will have enrollment of 1,200 or more, Division 2 schools will have between 600 and 1,200 students, Division 3 will be schools of less than 600 with classification codes of city and suburban, and schools of 450-600 with town or rural classification codes that are in excess off of the 256 school enrollments in Divisions 4 and 5.

Division 4 will be made up of schools with town or rural classification codes comprising 128 schools sponsoring basketball with the lowest enrollment after Division 5 is determined. Division 5 schools will be the 128 schools sponsoring basketball with the lowest enrollment in areas classified as towns or rural.

Cooperative teams will be placed in the division based on the combined enrollment of the schools, and schools are allowed to play one division up from where they might otherwise play if an application is submitted. Member schools will also be placed one division higher during their first two years of eligibility for tournament play.

Finally, any school appearing in a state tournament will not be placed in a smaller-school division the following year, even if a decline in enrollment would normally drop the team to a lower division. This also will apply to schools electing to play in a higher division.

Other changes

The Board of Control also voted to allow the coaches of teams qualifying for the state tournament to seed the teams. The board also approved awarding 28 medals at the state team tournament, to equal the number of eligible athletes.

The decision was also made to engage in a two-year experiment on sponsoring two divisions of hockey, starting with the 2020 tournament. The tournament will feature four Division 1 and four Division 2 schools, with the smallest 32 programs by enrollment assigned to the lower division.

The hockey state tournament will also be seeded in the future via conference call with the coaches of qualifying teams to determine the top four seeds. The remaining four teams will be randomly drawn as opponents of the selected teams in the brackets. These guidelines replicate the ones currently used for seeding at the regional and sectional levels. [/emember_protected]