October 11, 2011

Experimental Rules Meet Mixed Reviews

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com

UMBC head coach Don Zimmerman, secretary rules editor and a non-voting member of the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse rules committee, liked the pace of Saturday's scrimmage with Georgetown with a 30-second shot clock following stall warnings. But he did not like not being able to substitute players on the fly.

Georgetown coach Dave Urick and UMBC coach Don Zimmerman agree that experimenting with some possible NCAA Division I men's lacrosse rules changes was a good idea when the Hoyas and Retrievers met for a fall scrimmage Saturday.

As for their opinions on how the experiment looked on the field, let's just say the reviews were mixed.

Both coaches embrace the idea of exploring the use of a shot clock, since its purpose is ostensibly to speed up the pace of a game that many observers feel has grown increasingly stagnant. On Saturday, unlike Sunday's scrimmage between North Carolina and Ohio State that put a 60-second clock to use, UMBC and Georgetown did not play with a 60-second clock.

Instead, the Hoyas and Retrievers played with a 30-second shot clock employed after an offense was issued a stall warning. Shots had to be on goal -- a save, rebound, goal or pipe. Shots that missed the cage resulted in automatic turnovers.

Urick likes the idea of awarding a defense a quick restart if it gains a turnover in the opponent's attack area. Both coaches favor a rule that could prohibit a team from bringing an additional player to the wing area if that team commits a faceoff violation, a wrinkle that could create a three-on-two advantage for the non-offending team. Neither coach is thrilled with the possible rule that could ban substituting on the fly.

In Saturday's scrimmage won by Georgetown (no official score), substitutions only were allowed on the horn when the ball went out of bounds. In the eyes of Urick and Zimmerman, that made for some curious shots, as teams at times looked to stop the action and get different players on the field.

"I don't have a problem with a shot clock, as long as we can substitute the way we want to," Urick said. "When you are taking [purposely errant] shots that are intended to get a horn and substitute, I don't think that's what you want for the game. Both teams were doing it. One guy must have shot it about eight miles over the cage."

"It was obvious that teams were shooting to miss the goal on purpose to get a horn. That looked a little funky," Zimmerman said. "I don't like no subbing on the fly. With faceoff guys and long-stick midfielders and short-stick defensive middies, there's got to be a better way of getting them on the field."

Zimmerman, who is secretary rules editor as a non-voting member of the Division I men's lacrosse rules committee, liked the overall pace of the scrimmage, but added that the number of horns also made for too many stoppages in play. Urick agreed.

"Overall, some things were very positive," Urick said. "And some things were not what we were looking for."

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