By JOHN SHERMAN
Sun sailor Newspapers
Hopkins would get the tip in three of the four overtimes. Shakopee held firm in its zone defense and Hopkins point guard Kamali Chambers tucked the ball under his arm near midcourt. Hopkins ran the clock all the way down in the first three overtimes only to miss scoring chances. In the fourth overtime, shooting from past the halfcourt line, sophomore Amir Coffey of Hopkins swished a 55-foot shot to end the game, 49-46.
After the game, the first person to advocate for a shot clock in high school basketball was Kenny Novak Jr. of Hopkins. His team averaged more than 80 points per game this season, so it was uncharacteristic of the Royals’ play to hold the ball for three and a half minutes at a time in anticipation of taking the last shot.
As I watched the game, I felt the Shakopee coach was playing the basketball version of Russian roulette. You give Hopkins the last shot in any overtime, much less three in a row, and you have to be pretty lucky to survive.
If I were in Novak’s shoes, I would have done exactly what he did – hold for the last shot.
Getting back to the shot clock, which is used in several states, including Washington, I think it’s an obvious choice.
“If there’s no shot clock, you can really spread it out on a big court like this one,” said Novak. “I knew this would be a low-scoring game, and that’s just not our style. I truly wish there was a shot clock because a shot clock would help a team like us. I’ve been a shot-clock advocate for years.”
“Kenny got ripped [on message boards] for holding the ball in overtime the other night,” said Minnetonka boys coach Tom Dasovich. “Both coaches had choices to make. Shakopee wouldn’t come out of the zone, Hopkins held the ball. I don’t see the big deal. And you couldn’t beat the ending.”
Luck on his side
Improbable state tournament wins are nothing new for Kenny Novak Jr. and his father, Kenny Sr.
Blake Hoffarber, Senior’s grandson, hit a shot from the seat of his pants to send the 2008 championship game between Hopkins and Eastview into overtime. Eastview was so stunned by the shot that Hopkins ended up a double-digit winner, 71-60.
“Coach Novak has been on both ends of games like that,” said Dasovich. “But in the state tournament games, he seems to win them. How much basketball luck can one guy have?”
Your best shot
I don’t normally give stock tips in this sports column, but I’ve got a hot one for you.
When shot clocks are approved for nationwide use – and I believe they will be – you might want to check out a company called Daktronics in Brookings, S.D.
Daktronics has manufactured scoreboards since 1968 and also makes shot clocks.
Many coaches I have talked with in Minnesota would favor a 35-second shot clock. That time frame works well in the college ranks. Personally, I would love to see Minnesota experiment with a 30-second shot clock. Perhaps the Lake Conference could take the lead and try that on an experimental basis next year.
West Metro Miracle
Registration is open for all children with cognitive and physical challenges, who would like to play in the West Metro Miracle Baseball League.
Games will be played Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in May and June at Bennett Family Park. The program is open to youth ages 3-19.
“In a league where everyone hits, everyone gets on base and everyone crosses home plate, there is a great deal of fun to be had by all of the players and volunteers involved,” said West Metro League Athletics president Tim Hawley, a Deephaven resident and vice-president of International Dairy Queen Corp.
There will be a preseason clinic from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at the TonkaDome. Last year, the league included 150 players on 12 teams.
To register, visit: westmetromiracleleague.org.
Information: Tonya at 612-396-1256.
The Tyus factor
The state Class 4A boys basketball tournament did not include Apple Valley, so that meant All-American guard Tyus Jones was watching the action from afar.
While there is no exact way to calculate the effect of Jones’ absence, I would estimate his presence would have increased attendance by at least 7,000 fans over a three-day period.
There was still plenty of star power in the 2014 state tourney with Reid Travis of DeLaSalle, J.P. Macura of Lakeville North, Amir Coffey of Hopkins and Jeremiah Hanson of Maranatha Christian, but Tyus Jones is definitely the state’s premier box-office attraction.
Luckily, we will be able to watch him many times on TV next year when he plays for Duke University.
Contact John Sherman at [email protected]