C-USA idea: 30-second clock
Innovative thinking could elevate league
By Dan Wolken
May 17, 2007
DESTIN, Fla. -- The basketball coaches of Conference USA finished their spring meetings Wednesday afternoon without passing any significant pieces of legislation.
They did, however, leave on a creative note. Among the ideas that got some positive feedback in the closing discussion, according to coaches in the meeting, was using a 30-second shot clock in league games as opposed to the standard 35-second shot clock used throughout college basketball.
"I think it would be great," University of Memphis coach John Calipari said. "It would be like, let's see how it does, let's see if it increases scoring, you know? If somebody says, well, would it affect you in the NCAA Tournament? The way we play, if you looked at all of last year's tapes, we shot probably before 20 seconds 70 or 80 percent of the time."
Though no official steps were taken to implement that idea, the discussion reflected the coaches' consensus that C-USA should think outside the box to make its mark on the college basketball landscape.
Houston coach Tom Penders -- a huge proponent of any idea to speed the game up -- said adopting a 30-second clock would be like the Atlantic 10 using a 3-point line in the mid-1980s, a year before the rest of the country followed suit.
Not only would it attract attention nationally, he said, but it could help the league schools gain an edge in recruiting.
"That really helped the Atlantic 10," Penders said. "They were fighting the Big East to be different. You try to find ways to be creative. When you're out recruiting, you can tell a kid, we play our conference games at 30 seconds, more like the NBA (which uses a 24-second shot clock)."
It was unclear when -- or if -- the idea would be discussed further. To even begin the process of approval, the coaches would have to vote on it and send it to the league's athletic directors. From there, it would require further stages of approval before being implemented in games.
In other words, don't expect to see a 30-second shot clock any time soon. But the idea at least piqued the interest of coaches enough to generate initial talks.
"Is it realistic? I don't know," Tulsa coach Doug Wojcik said. "I'm not the deciding guy, but I like the idea. We're trying to think ahead, where things may go, how we could maybe influence the game to some extent for the fan, generate fan interest. Maybe you can do something different to try to bring some attention to the conference. Not to be revolutionary, but maybe to do something a little different."
Certainly, this is a good environment to talk about rule changes, given how the NCAA earlier this month approved moving the 3-point line back a foot to 20 feet, 9 inches beginning in 2008.
But Penders believes there are other rule changes that could improve the game more.
"We're the only ones in the world playing a 35-second clock," he said. "The lane is still too narrow. People say moving the (3-point) line out will relieve the congestion. Baloney."
Another thing C-USA might consider is putting a "block-charge" circle under the basket like the NBA does.
"That's something that probably should be implemented in college," Calipari said.
-- Dan Wolken: 529-2365