It's time to put Iowa on the clock
I grew up in a sports family. We watched sports, talked about sports, played sports. Essentially, we lived sports. And while I could never quite figure out how to hit a baseball or stomach the physicality of tackle football, I reveled in the rare combination of intensity and grace presented in the sport of basketball. I took to the Duke Blue Devils and Chicago Bulls, two teams that defined the ‘90s. The talent and execution of those teams made me fall in love with the sport.
It’s a sport I understood quickly. Although I was never a gifted athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I started playing it at five years old, and it’s still far and away my favorite thing to do to this day. It’s a stress reliever on several different levels for me.
But that’s not really the point. The point is that growing up in California, I’ve only ever known one style of play. That style of play involves the single greatest addition to organized basketball since Dr. Naismith hung up the peach baskets in Springfield, Massachusetts all those years ago — the shot clock.
The shot clock was first incorporated into organized basketball in 1954. Then Syracuse Nationals owner Danny Biasone experimented with a 24-second clock in his teams’ scrimmages. The NBA then adopted that clock for the following season, and it changed the game of basketball forever.
In the 1953-54 season, the last without a shot clock, NBA teams averaged 79 points per game. In the first season of the clock’s incorporation, that shot up to 93 points per game. And by the time teams were used to the clock and how to use it to their advantage, the league average shot up yet again to 107 points per game in 1957-58.
The NCAA took another 20-plus years to adopt the clock to the women’s game. They eventually settled on a 30-second clock for the women’s games in 1970-71. Fifteen years went by before the men adopted a 45-second shot clock in 1985-86, following a string of embarrassingly low scoring games and slow, unentertaining play. That clock was taken down to 35 seconds in 1993-94, which is where it remains today.
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