October 4, 2011

Men's DI Scrimmages This Weekend To Use Experimental Rules

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Will the game speed up for Nicky Galasso and the Tar Heels when they scrimmage Ohio State Sunday? The NCAA men's rules committee would like to see what impact a shot clock has on the pace of play, among other potential new rules.

© Peyton Williams

Is the game too slow?

It's been a burning question in men's lacrosse, particularly at the Division I level, for a while now. And for the first time, the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee to taking steps to address the concern.

Experimental rules involving shot clocks and limited substitutions will be used in a trio of scrimmages this weekend: Georgetown at UMBC on Saturday, North Carolina-Ohio State on Sunday at Calvert Hall in Towson, and UMass-Vermont on Sunday at the Catamount Classic.

The North Carolina-Ohio State game will feature a shot clock — 60 seconds in the first half and 75 seconds in the second half — and no substitutions will be allowed after a horn. The UMass-Vermont game will also feature a 60-second clock.

The Georgetown-UMBC scrimmage will serve a test for more experiments, including stricter limits on substitutions and a 30-second shot clock after a stall warning is put on, among other new rules.

From the NCAA's full story announcing the experiments, in the Georgetown-UMBC game:

  • Substitution will be allowed only on the horn when the ball goes out of bounds. This includes all boundary lines. Current rules allow substitutions on the fly and on any out-of-bounds stoppage.
  • Teams will have 20 seconds to clear the defensive half and 10 seconds to reach the attack area after crossing the midline. Current rules require teams to gain the attack area within 30 seconds of gaining possession.
  • If a team is given the stall warning, it has 30 seconds to put a shot on target (goal/save/rebound/pipe). Current rules require the team to keep the ball in the attack area during a stall warning.

    • If the shot meets any of those criteria and the team on offense regains possession, the stall warning is off.
    • If the shot does not meet those criterion and the 30 seconds expire, the ball is awarded to team on defense. No horn will be sounded.
    • If during the stall warning, a shot is taken that misses the goal and goes out of bounds, the horn will be sounded, and the ball will be awarded to defensive team.
  • If a team commits a violation during the faceoff, it is not allowed to bring an additional player up to the wing area. This creates a 3-on-2 advantage for the non-offending team. Current rules require only the violating team's faceoff player to leave the field and the team may substitute immediately.

  • If the offensive team commits a non-serving infraction and the ball is awarded to the defense in the attack area, the defensive team will be given the opportunity for a quick restart to promote a counterattack. Current rules require the ball to be restarted outside of the attack area.

Coaches from North Carolina, OSU, Georgetown and UMBC agreed to play under the experimental rules to see if they are good for the game, said UMBC coach Don Zimmerman, also the NCAA secretary-rules editor for men's lacrosse.

"I've talked to a lot of people and that includes players, fans and coaches," Zimmerman said. "There was a recurring theme about how the game seems to have slowed down. There is a lot of dead time, and everyone would like to see measures taken and see lacrosse remain the fastest game on two feet."

The scrimmages will be filmed so the NCAA rules committee can review the impact.

"When you sit around a table and say 'what if we did this,' you don't really see the ramifications," Vermont men's coach Ryan Curtis told Lacrosse Magazine contributor Mark Macyk in a story for the October issue of LM. "We'll play around with it. It will be neat for the guys."

The rules committee meets in August each year to consider changes for upcoming seasons.

"Our biggest concern is that the game has slowed down tremendously in the last 20 years," Sam Johnson, the deputy director of athletics at Army and chair of the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee, said. "We think part of the cause is the substitutions on the fly. You see teams clear the ball out of the defensive zone, then they slow the ball down and you wait and wait. Teams take their time making substitutions. It has taken the speed out of the game."

A specific target of the experiment, in the Georgetown-UMBC game, is the faceoff specialist.

"The experimental rules they will use in UMBC game will make that guy more of a universal player," Johnson said. "Since no one can be replaced until a horn sounds, it means the face-off guy is stuck on the field. He has to be able to play, because he's on the field until the ball goes out of bounds."

A shot clock is not totally alien to lacrosse, as Major League Lacrosse, the pro outdoor field league, uses a 60-second shot clock. Most box lacrosse games use a 30-second shot clock.

"We are taking an open-minded approach to this," Zimmerman said. "We will have our teams practice with these rules leading up to the scrimmage to get used to the rules. We want to see if the kids have fun playing under the new rules, because ultimately the game is theirs. The scrimmages are open to the public, and we can get some spectator feedback, also. It's an opportunity to try some ideas and put them out on the field to see how they work."

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