October 9, 2011

Shot Clock a Success at UNC-OSU Scrimmage

by Matt DaSilva | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Injuries Take Toll on Carolina Defense

"You saw the game go up and down," Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said after his team's 11-11 tie with North Carolina in a scrimmage played with a 60-second shot clockl. "That's the way the game should be played."

© Brian Schneider

TOWSON, Md. -- Playing fall ball on a spring-like Sunday in suburban Baltimore, perhaps the hub of lacrosse purity, the North Carolina and Ohio State men’s lacrosse teams scrimmaged under experimental rules, including a 60-second shot clock. The result: an entertaining, up-tempo game that ended unofficially in an 11-11 tie at Calvert Hall College High School.

“We’re fortunate to play on the football practice field, so the last two days of practice we fired [the shot clock] up, just to show the men that it’s not that different. You can still get a spin and you can still organize offensively. The key is the quick restart,” said Ohio State head coach Nick Myers. “You saw the game go up and down. That’s the way the game should be played.”

Both Myers and his former mentor, North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi, expressed support for a shot clock in college lacrosse. The teams Sunday had 20 seconds to get the ball to the midline and 60 seconds to get a shot on goal. There were also no horns for in-game stoppages, thus requiring both teams to sub entirely on the fly.

“I liked the no horns. It really sped up the game,” Breschi said. “It had a little bit of international flavor.”

North Carolina worked several new additions into its offense, including transfers Jack McBride (Princeton) and Davey Emala (Georgetown) and freshmen Jimmy Bitter and Joey Sankey. Sophomore Nicky Galasso (three goals) and senior Thomas Wood (two goals) were the only fixtures on attack, with the rest of the players rotating through both midfield and attack. The Tar Heels trailed 10-5 after the third quarter, but scored six of seven fourth-quarter goals to forge the tie.

Junior midfielder Dominique Alexander and freshman Reegan Comeault, one of five Canadians on the Ohio State roster, led the Buckeyes with two goals apiece.

There were five shot clock violations in the game. The first and fourth quarters featured UNC goals scored in the final minute after the shot clock forced Ohio State to shoot, rather than hold the ball for final possessions -- including Galasso’s game-tying goal off a Bitter feed with 56.9 seconds remaining.

The Georgetown-UMBC scrimmage Saturday and the Catamount Classic in Vermont on Sunday also featured shot clocks.

“I do support it,” said Bitter, who at one point in the fourth quarter got stripped going to goal on a possession that ended in a shot clock violation, “but maybe longer than 60 seconds, like 75 seconds.”

“I liked the faster-paced game. This was fun to watch,” Breschi said. “It will take a little getting used to, especially with coaching in the substitution game. But I thought it was a great experiment and something to be discussed next summer [by the NCAA rules committee].”

“I really believe the game was designed to play an up-and-down style, and that’s the game these young men like to play,” Myers said. “The things we preach as coaches -- moving your feet, sprinting to the midline, playing fast -- you don’t have to harp on them. You’ve got to take it to the cage and, from a shooting standpoint, you’ve got to make it count. You saw it towards the end there, transition goals, guys having to get in and quick resets. I’ve got to take a look at the film and digest it a bit, but it was a good first step.”

News and Notes

A near-capacity crowd at 4,000-seat Kelly Field included fans and alumni of both teams, with ticket proceeds helping fund the Michael R. Breschi Memorial Scholarship, one of the largest memorial-endowed scholarships at Ohio State. It was created in the memory of Michael Breschi, Joe Breschi’s son, who was struck by an automobile and killed in March 2004. Joe Breschi coached at Ohio State from 1997 to 2008 before taking the same job at North Carolina, his alma mater… The Tar Heels were without several injured players Sunday, including their entire starting defense. Charlie McComas (shoulder), Jordan Smith (calves) and Mark Staines (quadricep) are out for the fall, but Breschi expects all three back in time to start the 2012 season in February.

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