By Nick Veronica
Where Zach Lewis grew up in Connecticut, there was no shot clock in high school basketball. A rival school was known for going into a four-corners offense in close games to help time tick away. College ball provided Lewis with a 35-second shot clock, but even that can feel too slow.
In Wednesday’s CIT game against Dartmouth, Lewis and his Canisius teammates will be one of the first teams to experiment with a 30-second shot clock, which will be tested this month in the NIT, CIT and CBI tournaments. Data from these games will be presented to the men’s basketball rules committee in May for a possible change across the entire NCAA.
Lewis says a shorter shot clock can’t come soon enough.
“More shots, more shots for everybody,” the sophomore said. “I think [five seconds] will definitely make a difference. Hopefully the NCAA will make that change and put it to 30 seconds.
“It’s more exciting,” Lewis added. “Definitely more up-and-down. That’s something we definitely want to do.”
Canisius coach Jim Baron has the words “Runnin’ Griffs” written on his office window. This year’s team may not have the players to run as much as Baron would like — Canisius ranks 265th in KenPom’s adjusted tempo — but that’s the style Baron strives to play.
“I think it’s great,” Baron said of the 30-second clock. “It doesn’t bother us much at all. I think it’s exciting. You gotta get the ball down and you gotta be ready to score the ball.”
Baron would be in favor of reducing the 35-second shot clock next season.
“I think 30 is good,” he said. “I think 30 makes sense. Most teams have really gravitated to playing fast. I like it just because I think kids enjoy it and it helps scoring. I’m a scoring coach. I like to score points.
“It’s evolving more into a spectators’ game,” Baron added. “I think spectators want to see more scoring, and they want to see high-scoring players. So I think it’s going to happen more and more as we move forward.”
As for Wednesday’s game, Lewis said picking up the pace has been “a big emphasis” this week.
“We’re out here in practice just running around, trying to play fast but also play smart as well,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely going to be exciting.”
Both Baron and Lewis pointed to rebounding as the key to a good transition game.
“Defensive rebounds,” Lewis said. “That’s been our motto really all year. We gotta continue to be gritty, we gotta play together on defense and we gotta rebound. We’re not the biggest team but if all five guys try to crash the glass I think we’ll be all right.”
Canisius and Dartmouth tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Should Canisius win, the Griffs will go on the road for the CIT’s second round.