August 5, 2013

IMLCA Recommends Physical 'Timer-On' Shot Clocks for 2014

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

The IMLCA has recommended that the NCAA men's rules committee institute an experimental rule for 2014 that would permit the use of physical timer-on shot clocks.
© Brian Schneider

The movement toward basketball-like shot clocks in men's college lacrosse continues.

The Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA) on Monday said in an email to its members that it has recommended to the NCAA men's lacrosse rules committee that all schools be permitted to use a physical timer-on clock on an experimental basis during the spring 2014 season.

Assuming a school has the proper equipment, the home team would seek approval from the visiting team, and mutual consent would be required for the use of physical clock during games, the IMLCA recommends.

The association said it is not encouraging schools that do not already own clocks to purchase them while the rule is in an experiment state, but that schools may need to fund a clock operator, and "of specific interest prior to the 2015 season will be consideration of implementing a shot clock similar to basketball."

After the 2013 season, the IMLCA held a pair of conference calls to discuss the widespread rules changes implemented last year, and came to the conclusion that they were generally good for the sport but tweaks could be made to the timer-on rules, which require officials to count down 30 seconds after issuing a stall warning.

"In summary, the IMLCA membership believes that the rule changes adopted effective with the 2013 season were extremely positive in speeding up the game, putting the two-way midfielder back in the game and adding many exciting situations for the enjoyment of fans.

"Although the timer-on rules positively impacted the game, they also put more pressure on the officials, coaches and players.

"The use of a physical timer-on clock would:

"1. Take pressure off the officials in keeping track of the use of their buzzers during the first 20 seconds and then their hand count for the last 10 seconds.

"2. Create consistency in the counting of the 30 seconds (in reviewing game film, counts by officials have widely varied to as many as 38 seconds).

"3. Allow a coach to take time out during the timer-on situation and stop the timer-on clock thus providing the offensive team the full 30 seconds.

"4. Provide a visual element that would benefit the players, coaches, officials and fans."

The statement released Monday by the IMLCA echoes the sentiments that many coaches have expressed since the rules changes for 2013 and 2014 were announced just about one year ago.

"I hate that we don't have a visible shot clock. It's beyond stupid," said Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan, one of the more outspoken on the matter. "I can't even fathom how you put a shot clock into the game, but then make an invisible shot clock."

The lack of a physical clock also led to problems translating the countdown to television, representatives at ESPN said toward the end of last season.

ESPN's emerging technology group developed a shot-clock timer device that was worn by officials during TV games last season. The idea was to have an official toggle a switch on and off when a stall warning was put on, and have that start and stop linked to ESPN's production truck. Success was inconsistent.

"Our emerging technology group did a great job developing this system. It's just that every field you go to there are different subtleties about the transmission of it; the officials change; some officials remember to hit the timer, some don't," ESPN coordinating producer John Vassallo said ahead of this year's final four, where the shot-clock timing device was ditched in favor of a staffer keeping track of the count in the press box. "We're in a good place as far as what we thought we'd be at the beginning of the year, but in no way, shape or form are we hitting it 100 percent."

If adopted by the NCAA men's rules committee, which met last week, the IMLCA's recommendation would allow schools with shot clocks already in place at their venues to use them for lacrosse, as they would football, for example. This year is not a rules change year — changes are implemented every two years — thus the recommendation for experimental status.

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