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Big changes for high school basketball
State seeding next year, shot clock in 19-20, possible realignment
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Major change is coming to Wisconsin high school basketball. The WIAA voted last week to adopt a 35-second shot clock for boys and girls varsity games beginning in the 201920 season. The WIAA also voted to convene the basketball coaches advisory committee following the 2017 Area Meetings to discuss the merits of a newly created basketball tournament placement model.

STEVENS POINT — High school basketball in the state of Wisconsin may be played at a faster pace in coming years.

Following a lengthy discussion at last week’s Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association monthly meeting, the Board of Control voted to implement the use of a 35-second shot clock in boys’ and girls’ basketball for varsity games only, beginning in the 2019-20 season. 

Regardless of opinion on the change, the shot clock will certainly change how the game is played and coached going forward.

“I think from a coaching standpoint it will add more strategy to the game,” said Platteville boys’ basketball head coach Mike Huser. “But, I don’t know if it’s the best thing for basketball for a whole. With that being said time will tell. I can remember when the 3-point line came into play and people thought that was going to be a bad thing.” 

“I do know it’s going to be a big adjustment for everyone, players, coaches and even referees,” Huser added. “I think it’s going to be the biggest change to high school basketball structurally, in the last 15 to 20 years. I also think teams that lack depth will run into problems with the increased number of possessions. I think when you talk about shot clock situations you are going to see coaches put the ball in the hands of their two best players way more often From an  officials standpoint, its just one more thing to monitor.

“Personally, I don’t mind it. There will be situations that we can coach and use it to our advantage. Overall for the game, it remains to be scene if its a good thing or a bad thing for high school basketball.”

In other basketball-related action, the WIAA Board approved a recommendation to seed teams at the State Tournament in all five divisions beginning with the upcoming 2017–18 season.  

Coaches of the state qualifying teams will determine the seeds for the four qualifying teams in each of the five divisions with a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association representative breaking any ties that may occur.

Beginning next season, the State Tournament in team wrestling will also be seeded by coaches of qualifying teams.

The Board also approved three other changes for the 2017–18 basketball season. If schools choose to play only one half of a junior varsity game and a full varsity game, players will be allowed to play in only two halves. 

The sideline coaching box was also extended to 28 feet from 14 feet for all levels, allowing coaches more freedom of movement during a game.

In addition, the number of players per team allowed to dress during the WIAA tournament playoff series will increase to 18 (from 15) while maintaining the maximum party limit of 22 total players and coaches per team.

At the very end of last week’s WIAA meeting was one very interesting and potentially very impactful paragraph.  

The  Board of Control voted to convene the Basketball Coaches Advisory Committee following the 2017 Area Meetings to discuss the merits of a newly created basketball tournament placement model. Details of the plan will be shared and discussed at the Area Meetings and at each level of the committee process to be presented to the Board at its Jan. 31 meeting.

The new plan strives to settle the issue of competitive fairness between public and private schools, without making it strictly a public/private debate.

Instead, the new model, created by Mineral Point Superintendent Luke Francois, considers rural vs. urban school districts in his division placements (for basketball only). 

“From a competitive equity standpoint, it is probably the most balanced plan put forward so far,” said Platteville boys’ basketball coach Mike Huser. “It considers rural vs. urban more than just public school vs. private schools.”

The breakdown of the Divisions under the new plan would be as follows:

Division 1:  Schools with enrollments of 1200 or greater. 
Division 2: Schools with enrollments of 600–1200. 
Division 3: Schools less than 600 with classification codes “city” or “suburban” and schools of 450–600 with classification codes “town” or “rural” that are in excess of the 256 school enrollments in Division 4 and 5.
Division 4: Schools with classification codes town or rural comprising 128 schools with the lowest enrollment sponsoring basketball after Division 5 is determined.
Division 5: Schools with classification codes town or rural comprising the 128 schools with the lowest enrollment sponsoring basketball.

Co-op teams would be placed into divisions bases on the combined enrollment of the two schools. 

The “City or Suburban” and “Rural or Town” designations are based on official U.S. Census information. There are a number of categories that municipalities can fall into, but the main four that the WIAA will be using are “City”, “Suburban”, “Town”, and “Rural.”

The location of schools determines which of the four categories they fall into. Some public schools of less than 600 students fall into the “City” or “Suburban” categories. These schools are thus placed into Division 3 per the WIAA’s proposal. 

So, private and charter schools in large metropolitan areas that have been playing in Division 4 and 5 will be moved up to Division 3, but not all private schools will be moved up.

In fact, 21 private schools located in geographic areas identified as “Rural” or “Town” will remain in Divisions 4 and 5. Division 4 would include Kettle Moraine Lutheran, Lakeside Lutheran, Manitowoc Lutheran, Stevens Point Pacelli, Manitowoc Roncalli, Saint Lawrence Seminary, Fond du Lac Saint Mary’s Springs, Somers Shoreland Lutheran and Watertown Luther Prep. Division 5 would include Wisconsin Rapids Assumption, Burlington Catholic Central, Waupun Central Wisconsin Christian, Marshfield Columbus Catholic, Williams Bay Faith Christian, Living Word Lutheran, Madison Country Day, Northland Lutheran, Marinette Saint Thomas Aquinas, Sheboygan Lutheran, Beaver Dam Wayland Academy and Mosinee Wisconsin Valley Lutheran.

Platteville, currently a Division 3 school for basketball, would move to Division 4. Iowa–Grant, currently D4, would fall to Division 5. Potosi and Belmont would remain in D5.

“With every plan, not everyone is going to agree,” added Huser. “If you want, you can find a reason to love this plan, and if someone chooses to do so, they can find a reason to hate it. But the fact remains, the rural versus urban, public versus private debate is an issue that isn’t going anywhere. If they really want to do something in the near future, this is the plan that makes the most sense from a competitive standpoint. 

“It will be interesting to see going forward how this one is received after everyone has a had a chance to review it.”