first_img Published on October 30, 2018 at 11:43 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Basketball’s first shot clock broke through the silence of Le Moyne’s Noreen Reale Falcone Library on Oct. 19.The second floor was noiseless until Inga Barnello, the director of the library, unboxed the original basketball shot clock and plugged it into a wall. The horn went off, sending a quick, sharp ring echoing off bookshelves. Now, the 64-year-old aluminum clock is tucked away in the special collections department of the library.“No one knows it’s here,” Barnello said. “But it’s here to stay.”The 24-second shot clock consists of a weathered aluminum box with 44 red and white light bulbs screwed into it. The clock — now a staple in most levels of basketball — is embedded in Syracuse sports history. On Wednesday night, Syracuse tips off its final exhibition game against Le Moyne, the Division II school which holds the original clock.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPaul Schlesinger | Staff PhotographerThe shot clock, invented in Syracuse, accelerated the pace of play, making the sport more attractive for fans. The clock has altered the game of basketball at every level since its inception on Aug. 10, 1954, inside a gym on Syracuse’s Westside.That summer day, a series of the game’s leading players filed into Blodgett Vocational High School, a 10-minute drive from the Carrier Dome. They included Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach and Eddie Gottlieb, known as “Mr. Basketball.” All of them attended a Syracuse Nationals scrimmage, during which the shot clock was utilized for the first time.Chaos ensued from the beginning of the game, as players rushed shots in a panic over whether they’d have enough time to generate a shot. The new rule limiting shooting time had come into full effect: People worried if it would damage the game, then ruled by methodic, slow offenses, according to the NBA book “Tall Tales,” by Terry Pluto.“We thought we had to take quick shots — a pass and a shot was it — maybe 8-10 seconds,” said Syracuse star Dolph Schayes, in Pluto’s book. Schayes played in the exhibition game and told Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame board member John Rathbun the “old guys were freaked out” at the prospect of shooting in less than 24 seconds.The NBA adopted the shot clock the next season, and NBA scoring average went from 79.5 points per game to 93.1 in the first year, Rathbun said. That season, the Syracuse Nationals won the NBA title.“People forget, but Syracuse has a rich basketball history,” said longtime Syracuse resident Bruce Laidlaw, who graduated from SU in 1955, after the shot clock was introduced. He said there was a buzz around Syracuse when the clock debuted.The modern college shot clock counts each possession down from 30 seconds. Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerThis spring, Laidlaw walked into Blodgett Vocational High School on Oswego Street for a youth basketball game. He looked around. Nowhere inside or outside of the gym could he find any sort of display, replica or plaque honoring the gym’s historic moment. When asked about whether they knew the shot clock originated in the gym, several people said they didn’t know the gym’s significance.The shot clock replica downtown is as equally overlooked as the original at Le Moyne. Last month, as a few men were walking out of Starbucks in Armory Square, they passed the shot clock replica, erected in March 2005. “The clock was founded here?” one man asked another. “Yes, hard to believe.”Syracuse Nationals (now the Philadelphia 76ers) general manager Leo Ferris and team owner Danny Biasone spearheaded the implementation of the clock, which aimed to reduce stalling tactics that bogged down the game. Ferris sat at a bowling alley in Syracuse’s Eastwood neighborhood, jotting potential shot clock formulas onto napkins. Then he found a winning formula.Ferris and Biasone decided on 24 seconds by taking the number of seconds in a 48-minute game (2,880) and dividing it by the average number of shots in a game (120). Today, the NBA, FIBA and WNBA use the 24 seconds Biasone and Ferris envisioned.The NCAA did not implement a shot clock until the 1985-86 season, and it started at 45 seconds. It was eventually reduced to 35, then 30, and many experts, including ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, call for another reduction.“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have it now,” Bilas said. “All these players have played at the 24, and they’re fully capable of it.” He called the 24-second shot clock the “natural progression.”Paul Schlesinger| Staff PhotographerSyracuse basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, now in his 43rd season, “wouldn’t mind” a switch to the 24-second shot clock. He points to how last year’s SU team played at one of the slowest paces in the country and still took only “17 or 18 seconds” to shoot.According to, SU played with the ninth slowest pace in the nation last year based on adjusted tempo, a statistic that measures possessions per 40 minutes, adjusted to opponents.Before the implementation of the shot clock, college basketball was full of stall tactics and low-scoring games. Dean Smith patented the “four corners offense,” which entailed holding the ball for minutes at a time when his Tar Heels had the lead. In 1973, Tennessee beat Temple, 11-6, in a game that has been called the worst sporting event of the 20th century.The metal box that made basketball the fast-paced game it is today, unsettled Schayes and killed the four corners offense, will not be on display Wednesday night, when Syracuse hosts Le Moyne. Instead, it’ll be retired in a cardboard box in special collections.last_img