August 2, 2012

NCAA Coaches' Survey: Pace of Play Changes Needed

Potential new rules, like the use of a shot clock, are up for debate in the NCAA men's coaching ranks. In an NCAA coaches' survey, 53 percent of Division I coaches said a shot clock is needed while more than 60 percent of Division III coaches said it's not.
© Brian Schneider

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter

The NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee concludes its annual meetings Thursday, and rules changes coming out of it are a possibility with pace of play being a major topic of conversation.

In advance of this year's meetings, the committee developed a coaches' survey to gain feedback across all divisions about issues regarding current and future rules. Of 291 men's head coaches asked to participate, 176 across Divisions I, II, and III responded. The results were recently made available, and shed light on the mood of the coaching body regarding several topics.

Some major points:

  • 40 percent indicated that "pace of play" is the aspect of the game that is in the need of most improvement. "Other" was next with nearly 20 percent, followed by the dive play (12.5) and cross-check hold (10.1).
  • Nearly 55 percent said they disagree that the game needs to have a shot clock, but there was a disparity among the divisions. Fifty-three percent of Division I coaches said a shot clock is needed while more than 60 percent of Division III coaches said the game doesn't need one.
  • More than 70 percent disagreed with the current rules pertaining to stall warnings, with Division I coaches being the most against (83 percent).
  • More than 90 percent said the face off needs to continue to be part of the game.
  • Coaches generally argree with current rules about stick heads, handles and pocket depth with one outlier group: Only 59 percent of Division I coaches think current pocket depth rules are acceptable, while nearly 90 percent of Division II and II coaches said they're fine.
  • Few like the idea of a 2-point arc.
  • More than 75 percent are in favor of having quick re-starts in the attack area for the defending team at the point where the whistle blew rather than having to take the ball outside of the attack area.

Forty-one of the coaches that responded were from Division I, 29 from D-II and 103 from D-III. Names were not provided. Read the full survey results here (PDF).

The men's rules committee includes nine members, including a nonvoting secretary-rules editor: Hamilton athletic director Jon Hind (chair), North Carolina coach Joe Breschi, Army athletic director Boo Corrigan, Mount St. Mary's associate AD Mike Hardisky, Vermont coach Ryan Curtis, C.W. Post coach John Jez, Washington and Lee coach Gene McCabe, University of New England coach John Hunt and UMBC coach Don Zimmerman (nonvoting secretary-rules editor). Four voting members represent Division I, one is from Division II and three are from Division III.

Last fall, several teams used experimental rules in fall scrimmages, some of which included shot clocks and limited substitutions. The results of those games were to be discussed at this week's rules meetings.

Experimental Women's Rule for Fall

In June, the NCAA women's lacrosse rules committee met and recommended a fall experimental rule that would allow any defender to move through the goal circle below goal-line extended, and that only the defender marking the player with the ball may remain in the circle below goal-line extended.

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the recommendation in July, said Celine Cunningham, women's rules committee chair and the head coach at Stevens.

In the rules committee's official meeting report from June, the rationale for the rule was "to create more balance between offense and defense. Recent rules changes regarding attack play around the goal circle created unintended advantages for the offense."

This is non-rules change year on the women's side, so schools are being asked to use the experimental rule in all fall games and report back to the committee before next year's meetings, June 3-5, 2013, in Indianapolis.

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