When the NCAA approved the reduction of the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30, many thought it would help offense across the country. In theory, there will be more possessions – not many, but some. But, this will not help offenses in college basketball, it will help defenses, specifically a defense like Kentucky.
In fact Luke Winn wrote about this exact subject, saying ‘I worry that an unintended consequence of the 30-second shot clock is that grind-it-out defenses will become even more popular–and successful–than they already are.’ The thought process is simple. Extend your defense to a 3/4 court press, forcing as much time in the backcourt as possible. Once the ball crosses half, drop into your zone or typical man-to-man and the offense now has less time to probe looking for a shot. Think about how many times on a 35 second clock we saw an opponent throw up a garbage shot as the time expired.
This will be happening more. Winn went and looked at Synergy Sports Technology and saw that just four percent of possessions in D1 last year got within four seconds last season while 11 percent of the NBA possessions got within four seconds. With the shift in the shot clock closer to the NBA, expect the same type of shift in numbers.
Let’s just say Kentucky has a lineup of Ulis-Briscoe-Poythress-Lee-Labissiere out there. That lineup allows for plenty of switching thanks to the versatility of Poythress, Lee and Skal while Ulis is obviously a defensive star. If Ulis is hounding the ball, there should be 10 seconds or less for the offense to truly run something that resembles a possession. As a Kentucky fan, we all should be happy to see the decrease to 30 seconds. There’s a chance UK’s offense struggles, but let’s embrace the defense and have fun watching other teams try to score with five less seconds against the Wildcats.