CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Coaches expressed mixed feelings over DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council’s decision to eliminate the shot clock from future Far East high school basketball tournaments.

The 10-person FEAC panel chose to remove the shot clock during its meeting in March. FEAC chair Don Hobbs told Stripes the move was done to cut costs and also to bring DODDS-Pacific in line with DODDS-Europe and most stateside federations, which don’t use shot clocks.

The meeting was conducted March 17-18, but the minutes were signed off and officially released on Tuesday. Stripes obtained a copy of the minutes and the 2008-09 school year FEAC calendar on Wednesday.

“We’re pinching pennies still,” Hobbs said. “Not only are we saving money, we’re also showing (DODDS-Pacific’s leadership) intent to save. We don’t want to be told to cut an activity. We have to be proactive and show good will.”

National Federation of State High School Associations rules recommend but do not mandate a shot clock; DODDS-Pacific is an affiliate member with NFHS, Hobbs said. Only seven stateside associations use shot clocks, Hobbs said.

Not playing with shot clocks “would make it easier,” Hobbs said, for a Pacific player to transfer elsewhere and not have to adjust.

Supporters of the change told Stripes that the move benefits smaller-school teams that don’t have skilled ballhandlers. Opponents say teams that feel outmatched by powerhouses might play four-corner stall to try to stay in games.

“We’re just going to have to adjust to the rule change,” said Jon Fick, in his second year coaching Kubasaki’s boys on Okinawa, where they use 30-second clocks in games against Kadena and Japanese teams. “It shouldn’t be that big an issue. It’s still basketball.”

Yokota’s boys coach Paul Ettl said one “could argue either way” about the shot clock, but he believes “there are a lot of other places” where DODDS could cut costs.

“We might be better off without” the clock, said Ettl, whose school’s enrollment keeps shrinking toward 300 and might soon decide to go Class A. “It may be a blessing in disguise for us.”

But Ettl referred to any cost savings as a “pittance.” Assuming a shot-clock operator gets $20 per game and there are 160 total games in four Far East tournaments, DODDS-Pacific saves only $3,200, Ettl said.

The lack of a shot clock “has a huge effect” on girls ball, Ettl said. “You get a team with two good guards, they go up six to eight points and they just hold the ball.”

Osan American girls coach Bruce Barker used a similar strategy to win Far East Class A titles in 2001 over Taegu and in 2002 over Matthew C. Perry.

That 2002 championship, in which Perry’s players mockingly broke into an oncourt dance in the third quarter, spurred FEAC to implement shot clocks for Far East tournaments starting in 2004.

And FEAC’s about-face six weeks ago angered at least one coach.

“They shoved it down our throats to where we accepted it and now they pull it,” said Michelle Chandler of Daegu American. “It certainly changes the pace of the game.”

Chandler expressed fear that Barker or other coaches might try similar slowdown tactics in future Far East games. “The coaches are going to raise hell about it,” she said.

Barker told Stripes the same thing he shouted at spectators who booed his Cougars during the 2002 final: Just play ball.

“All you have to do is press. Go after them. Go after the ball. There’s no stall if you play man-to-man,” Barker said. “I’m glad they changed it and came around to what most schools in the States do.”

Taking away the shot clock also permits better teams to keep a score low, rather than be forced to shoot and pile up points, Barker said.

“Back in the day, you could go onto the court with a heart, take 15 or 20 passes before you shoot,” he said. “With the clock, what do you do? Tell the players not to shoot when the clock goes off?”

Should teams attempt repeated stall tactics, DODDS-Pacific and FEAC “will confront those issues when they happen,” Hobbs said.

While the clock will be eliminated from Far East tournaments, it will remain in effect in KAIAC, Chandler said. Some KAIAC international schools play in the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference tournament, where a 24-second shot clock is used, she said.

It was not immediately known what the Kanto Plain and Okinawa Activities Council would do. The Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam does not use a shot clock.

Scheduled events

Scheduled 2008-09 Far East high school activities sponsored by Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific, type of activity, date, host school and site:Journalism, Oct. 22, Zama American, New Sanno Hotel, Tokyo.Class A football championship, Nov. 1, DODDS-Japan Class A school to be determined.Class AA football semifinals, Nov. 1, Guam High at Okinawa Activities Council champion, Seoul American at DODDS-Japan champion.Cross country, Nov. 3-4, Robert D. Edgren, Gosser Memorial Golf Course, Misawa Air Base, Japan.Tennis, Nov. 3-5, Kadena, Risner Tennis Complex, Risner Fitness & Sports Center, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.Class A girls volleyball, Nov. 3-7, Daegu American, Kelly Fitness & Sports Center, Camp Walker, and Daegu American School, Camp George, South Korea.Class AA girls volleyball, Nov. 3-8, Guam High, University of Guam Field House, Mangilao, Guam.Class AA football championship, Nov. 8, at winner of Seoul American-DODDS-Japan semifinal.Speech and arts festival, Feb. 2-6, Kubasaki High School, Okinawa.Wrestling, Feb. 11-14, Kubasaki, Foster Field House, Foster Athletics Complex, Camp Foster, Okinawa.Class A girls basketball, Feb. 16-20, Matthew C. Perry, Ironworks Fitness & Sports Center, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Class A boys basketball, Feb. 16-20, Daegu American, Kelly Fitness & Sports Center, Camp Walker, and Daegu American School, Camp George, South Korea.Class AA girls basketball, Feb. 16-21, Zama American, Yano Fitness Center and Trojans Gymnasium, Zama American High School, Camp Zama, Japan.Class AA boys basketball, Feb. 16-12, Yokota, Samurai Fitness & Sports Center and Capps Gym, Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan.Model United Nations, March 2-4, Nile C. Kinnick High School, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, DODDS-Japan district office, Tsukuba City, Japan.Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, March 30-April 1, Matthew C. Perry High School, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Music Festival, April 20-24, Yokota High School, Yokota Air Base, Japan.Class A boys and girls soccer, May 18-21, Matthew C. Perry, Penny Lake Field and Samurai Field, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Class AA girls soccer, May 18-22, Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, Okinawa.Class AA boys soccer, May 18-22, Seoul American High School, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.

author picture
Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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