Ferguson gives pause when asked about possible shot clock in high school debate

Ernie Ferguson (pictured above) coaches for the East Lawrence girls basketball team during last season’s area tournament at Phil Campbell.

The argument of whether or not there should be a shot clock in high school basketball has caused much debate in Alabama, especially in recent years. 

Some have said that the game needs to be sped up and others complain about teams ability to hold the ball. 

Recently, our sister state to the East, Georgia, announced that they were moving towards a shot clock, which has only turned up the heat on the debate here in Alabama. 

Numerous coaches have voiced their opinion on the topic since the announcement by Georgia was made with most being in favor. 

But what about the ones that aren’t? 

We’ve heard a lot of reasons why we should have one, but what are the reasons to not go that route? 

“I’m not hard against it, I’m probably more ambivalent than anything. But if you had to ask me if I was for or against it I would said no,” said East Lawrence High School girls coach Ernie Ferguson. “I just don’t really see that there’s a purpose for one.” 

One of the first things you always here is that it would speed up the game. However, one of the new arguments is that it would bring the high school game more to the college level. 

Ferguson doesn’t buy that reasoning. 

“If you want to make high school basketball more like college, then you would need to do that for all sports,” Ferguson said. “I feel like that’s just an argument that’s only used because it fits the agenda.” 

Ferguson also laid out why exactly there needs to be a difference between the college and high school. 

“The shot clock was invented for the NBA and College for a reason,” he said. “The vast majority of kids that play high school basketball will never play again after their senior year.” 

One of the biggest complaints that advocates for a shot clock is that it allows teams to hold on to the ball without penalty. 

Ferguson sees both sides of the argument, but still thinks it doesn’t warrant a change. 

“I watched a game here recently where a team purposely played keep away with the ball at the start,” he said. “So yeah I get it, I can see where that would be an issue sometimes. But then again, how often does that really happen.” 

But Ferguson doesn’t believe teams that just plays at a slower pace, or that have leads at the end of games should be penalized. 

“I don’t like playing a slow pace I’d rather my teams go, but should we take that arrow out of the quiver for teams that use it. We don’t recruit in high school so some teams just don’t have the horses that others have,” he said. “And as for teams that build leads then try to milk the clock, why should they be penalized? They built that lead, it’s not up to them to help the other team get it back.” 

Of course the biggest con towards having a shot clock is the cost. If one school has a shot clock then everyone must have one, which can create problems for smaller rural schools as opposed to big city schools. 

“Yeah I think that comes in to play. City vs county and big vs small. Obviously the bigger schools are going to have the advantage,” Ferguson said. “If it happens it happens but what I would like to see is if it does happen, instead of requiring schools have it immediately, give us a few years to raise the money for it.” 

As for now there will be no  shot clock coming to Alabama. Ferguson says that if it does happen one day it won’t be a big deal, but for now he’s staying on the no side of the fence.

“If you can tell me that it’s for sure what’s best for the game then I’m all for it,” he said. “But right now I’m not so sure it is.”

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