The NCAA made the logical move to reduce the shot clock to 30 seconds. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what is wrong is the idea that this will increase the offensive output next season.
The new shot clock should help with the flow of the game in getting more possessions, but great defensive coaches will take advantage of the new rule. According to KenPom, possessions per game went up 1.02 and offensive efficiency went up .6 points per 100 possessions during the NIT, CBI and CIT tournaments last season.
However, what happens over the course of the season when better teams are playing with the short shot clock? Wouldn’t this benefit a team like Louisville more than anyone else? Louisville, one of the few teams over the last couple of years that has played a full court press into a zone trap, is going to benefit the most from the new rule.
With five less seconds to probe the zone, a strong defensive team can take full advantage of this. If a team like Louisville looks to trap in the backcourt and shaves eight seconds off the clock right there, that leaves the offensive team with 22 seconds to then break the half court zone.
If a coach is smart, he’ll pull his zone up and try to extend it to the half court, making the offensive team try to pass the ball back and forth to waste a couple extra seconds before they look to attack. If the defensive team is strong enough, they’ll leave around 10 seconds for the offense to get a shot up. This should often result in a poor or rushed shot, giving the defense the advantage early in the season.
However, some prominent college basketball coaches say otherwise. Kentucky head coach John Calipari downplayed the change saying “thirty seconds isn’t going to have an impact on the game.” Joining him on that thought process is Roy Williams and John Beilein, who thinks the adjustment will be easy dropping the shot clock by just five seconds.
The biggest thing to take away from the small sample size of the three smaller postseason tournaments is the fact the shorter shot clock didn’t decrease efficiency. Again, it’s to be taken with a grain of salt as the talent level is obviously subpar in those tournaments and it was just 75 games, but it gives a jumping off point for the 2015-16 season.
But for now, watch out for the strong defensive-minded coaches. They will have the advantage early in the season. The drop to 30 seconds was logical, but don’t expect a massive change next year.