Blogs and Commentary

posted 10.09.11 at 9.30 p.m. by Corey McLaughlin

UNC-OSU Shot Clock Game Passes Eye Test

TOWSON, Md. -- Some observations and analysis from the North Carolina-Ohio State men's scrimmage Sunday, played at Calvert Hall College High School:

Weather: Sunny skies on a beautiful and unseasonably warm 83-degree afternoon. Experimental rules: A 60-second shot clock and no horns for in-game stoppages, meaning only subs on the fly. Attendance: Near-capacity at the 4,000 seat venue in Baltimore County. Final score: 11-11.

Shot Clock? No Problem

If men's Division I college lacrosse is too slow or boring at times, some critics have pointed the use of a shot clock as a solution. So, of course, it was interesting to actually see the clock in use. At first blush, my general thought: It was great. The pace of play was quick and it wasn't like the college guys from North Carolina and Ohio State couldn't put together offensive possessions effectively or looked rushed.

The 60-second clock started when a team brought possession into the box. The first quarter went by without any violations. Ohio State had the first two in the second quarter. After a failed man-up in the third quarter, North Carolina reset and didn't get a shot off for its first violation. It's hard to gauge the complete impact of the clock, this was scrimmage after all and the teams were not exactly playing to win (the score wasn't kept on the scoreboard, per Ohio State's request.) But the game seemed to go off without any hiccups. The tape can be further anaylized by the NCAA rules committee when it's time to discuss rules changes in August.

"I thought it was great," Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi, a member of the rules committee, said of the shot clock. "It was a fast-paced game, it went pretty quick."

He said the biggest adjustment needed was subbing personnel in and out quicker.

"We would probably sub quicker," Breschi said. "Getting on the field and attacking the cage, organizing and that sort of thing quicker is something we have to change."

It would help if the shot clock can continue to be experimented with at the college level, especially in a real live game situation where a team is ahead and maybe looking to take the air out of the ball to nurse a lead. Not sure how this would be possible, but it would be ideal. Maybe two coaches can arrange to play a scrimmage like a game, intending to win, with the shot clock in use to experiment for the overall betterment of the game.

For now, kudos to the coaches, players and officials involved for taking part in this worthwhile and way overdue experiment weekend at Calvert Hall and in Vermont, at the UMass-Vermont game Sunday, and at the Georgetown-UMBC game Saturday.

"We talked about different rules this summer and now we're tinkering with them to potentially make some changes for next year, to speed up the game," Breschi said, mentioning fellow rules committee members, UMBC coach Don Zimmerman and Vermont coach Ryan Curtis. "I think everybody's a little concerned about the amount of 'keep-it-ins' and the stalling that went on a little bit too much last year. Are we doing the right thing for the game by allowing us to hold the ball behind the cage? We're all trying to pick up the tempo, and play the game that's so beautiful to watch."

UNC's Offense Can Be Scary Good

Picture these guys on offense at the same time, in the same uniform: Nicky Galasso, Jack McBride, Davey Emala, Thomas Wood, Jimmy Bitter and Marcus Holman, all but one who would be listed as attackman (Holman's the middie). North Carolina had that group on the field at times. McBride and Emala, the big-name transfers and traditionally attackman at Princeton and Georgetown, respectively, played midfield occasionally as well as attack. The Tar Heels have so many pieces; it's just a matter of Breschi and staff going all mad-scientist to get it all to work.

With McBride and Emala both playing midfield simultaneously, that group scored a goal in about five seconds after the shot clock started on one possession in the second quarter. On the next possesion, Jimmy Dunster was in for Holman and same result.

Midfielders or Power Forwards?

A common thing you'll hear about the NFL nowadays, is that the game is becoming like basketball, in particular for wide receivers and defensive backs with sharper focus on limiting dangerous hits. There's more emphasis on plays that just benefit the players with better physical attributes, for example jump balls to receivers. That thought crossed my mind about lacrosse when watching two of North Carolina's big and tall midfielders, 6-foot-5 freshman Walker Chafee and 6-foot-3 sophomore Pat Foster.

Both were on UNC's first-line man-up unit, and were just plain imposing with their size at all times. At even strength, Chafee scored and on the run goal down the left alley during the Tar Heels' 6-1 fourth-quarter run – and the defender had no chance defending Chafee's size and athletic ability on his dodge from up top. Just give it to the big guys and let them go.

Limit Hard Feelings

About midway through the first quarter, with Ohio State leading 3-0, a request reached the official scorers to have the score removed from the scoreboard at Calvert Hall. The Buckeyes made the request, as to limit any potential hard feelings among good friends and former coaching colleagues Nick Myers and Breschi. Myers was Breschi's assistant for five seasons at Ohio State, before Breschi left to take the UNC job. And Nick Myers is the older brother of UNC assistant Pat Myers.

The Buckeyes and Tar Heels previously decided to end their annual regular season meeting in favor of Sunday's scrimmage and fundraiser for the Michael Breschi Scholarship. The scholarship honors Breschi's son, Michael, who was 3 when he was struck by a car and killed in the parking lot of the Clintonville, Ohio, preschool he attended.

Where's the D?

For North Carolina, would-be starting close defensemen Charlie McCommas, Jordan Smith and Mark Staines did not play Sunday because of injuries. Read more here.