Editor’s Note: Ryan Connors has a ton of experience in the college lacrosse world, and while Connor Wilson has already offered up his thoughts on the 2013 Rule Changes, more perspective is ALWAYS welcome! Check out what this former Mercyhurst defenseman has to say about the new rules!
30 Second Shot Clock:
The shot clock is hands down the single most talked about issue in today’s game. People might be up in arms about face offs, but the shot clock has long been the pressing issue. A vast majority of people seem to agree that a shot clock is needed to speed up the game, with stalling being the main concern. I have been against a shot clock since day one, but it seems that we are slowly creeping closer to a shot clock regulation being enforced.
The NCAA recently proposed a 30 second shot clock after a stall has been called on a team. There are many pros that will come from a shot clock: obviously the game will speed up, teams that are down at the end of a game still have a chance to win, and teams will have a set time to get a shot off after a stall.
Now, this all seems well and good; problem solved, next question, right? Wrong.
This newly proposed rule just creates a whirlwind of secondary problems. The stall call is still left to the referee’s discretion. Unlike the MLL or NLL, a shot clock would only be implemented after a stall call. In the MLL, the clock starts as soon as a team gains possession. Every possession is different and a referee will still have to determine when a team is “stalling” and that all depends on the referee’s opinion.
The rule also states that there will be no visible shot clock, instead, the referee’s will have a 20 second timer and then go to a hand-counted ten count. Players and coaches will not physically be able to see a shot clock but rather will have to watch the refs or keep a count in their head. This causes obvious problems… for example: Referees can miss the 20 second timer, a shot goes OB and the ref loses the count, among many other possibilities.
The current proposal just ads more job duties for the already overworked reffing crew. While a shot clock solves many problems, it can also create even more.
My proposal is to eliminate the corners of the box. A team that practices a two-minute drill well can successfully maintain possession of the ball in the last two minutes of a game. The other team helplessly tries to double the ball only for the offense to lob it over the top to the open player in the far corner… and the chase continues but to no avail. When a team has to keep the ball within the box either for a stall or last two minutes, they are taught to run to the corner and wait for the double. Once they are in trouble they throw the ball to another corner, and the process continues until all the clock is eaten up.
If you eliminate the corners of the box, an offensive player has no where to run and hide, and they run out of real estate quickly. This makes it easier for a defense to double and regain possession. All the standard box lines will remain, but artificial lines can be added to eliminate the corners at very low cost. I was thinking outside the box on that one… good joke/bad joke?? Whatever, moving on.
No Moto Grip on Face-offs:
This rule proposal caused a lot of stir mainly because it came out of left field. This is the first I had heard of this proposal and I think it is complete Clydesdale crap. The problem that the NCAA wants to change are the long-drawn out faceoff battles that last for 30 seconds. They tweaked some rules last year that helped, but referees became lax with these rules and they are virtually forgotten about.
We have still seen some faceoff battles that resemble two wild Yaks squaring off.
These battles can eat up precious time and can be boring and confusing to outsiders of the sport. These tie ups often occur because both player try punching the opponents crosse with a moto grip, and an ensuing elbow lock mix up is the result. The NCAA seems to believe that if you eliminate the moto grip, these long tie-ups will become a thing of the past.
Honestly, I can’t see how new rule will help the game. Players are still going to tie each other up with over-under grips. It is even more likely players that use moto grip will just reverse their bottom hand so that technically it is an over-under grip. (Top hand is over while back hand is under).
My proposal is simple: keep the moto grip in the game. If a tie-up occurs a ref will use the 10 second hand count, then award the ball to the team with Alternate Possession. Oh yes, I went there. AP, the long forgotten alternate possession, hasn’t been used since the merger (no real merger specifically, just an expression). That little saying the ref says after you lose the coin toss and the other team picks their side, “OK then, you’ll get first AP”. You think, “Oh gee thanks!” just dripping with sarcasm.
I’m just saying that AP is hardly ever used and this could be a reason to use it. This can bring new strategy to the face off world: Tie a man up and win AP rather then try to win the ball outright. It shortens up lengthy tie ups, gives incentive to get the ball out quickly AND allows FoGos to keep using the skills they have mastered. I’m a genius, I know.
No 5-Second Goalie Delay/Quick Restarts:
Last year, a goalie was given 5 seconds to return to his crease after he chased a shot out of bounds. Some goalies really took their time getting back into net, and they give their defense a little five second rest. This helps the defense compose themselves, find match-ups and just catch their breath, all while the attackman is standing with the ball in his stick ready to go.
The NCAA proposed a rule where every ball is a quick restarts. And I’m on board with this rule – as these types of rules will help speed up the game. No horns? let those D-mids with sketchy stick skills try to clear it. Great change. No 5-second goalie rule? Have the goalies sprint back while the attackman is driving to the net. This makes for some exciting fast-paced lacrosse.
While we are at it, they should bring the dive back. They eliminated that rule because it was dangerous for goalies. But the MLL allows diving and I haven’t heard of a goalie getting injured from a dive. In fact, they even found ways to waive off goals when a player makes contact with the keeper. And if a goalie is going to become injured my money is on a 100 MPH shot, not some guy tip-toeing around the crease and diving in after he scores. Again, this all leads to exciting lacrosse that brings new fans into stadiums and keeps old ones in their seats, and keeps the game fast.
The problem that NCAA is trying to eliminate is that on a man-up faceoff, the man-down team brings an attackman to the wing. It is now 3V3 between the boxes on the face and there is no longer an advantage. NCAA proposes that the man-down team can no longer bring an attackman up, but he must remain in the box with the other attackman. The new rule will bring back a true man-up faceoff.
This theory is perfect on paper, but honestly, very few coaches are going to push an odd man rush when they are man up. I guarantee that 90% of college coaches would rather hold the ball and get an EMO possession rather than let their FOGO walk in and throw a pass out of bounds. I am indifferent on the rule because it is so minor that it will not affect the game a great deal.
Most of the time, a LSM or man-down specialist will take the faceoff when they have a penalty because we all know FOGO’s definitely do not play man-down. The man-down team does not have their FOGO out their so they will more often that not lose the faceoff. I don’t see too many people making a fuss of this rule, and it probably won’t have a huge impact.
The Cross-Check Hold:
The problem: SSDMs, and long sticks, are “holding” a player using the shaft of their stick, with their hands apart. Coaches believe this should be called either a 30-second cross-check (which would be a new 30 second penalty) or a hold. The reasoning is that offensive players can’t get to the net because of the cross-check hold, and that leads to lower scoring games, slow down lacrosse, and a lot of angry fans.
The NCAA proposes that the cross-check and the hold should be called more strictly. Some people call that a cross-check/hold, I just call that great defense. I taught my players how to stay low and drive an attacker out, and I taught them to keep their hands separate to get more leverage, I encouraged the cross-check/hold. I promised them I would never yell at them if they got called for that in a game, I taught them good defense.
Should this really be illegal?
Obviously, high school and youth lacrosse is different, but we are talking strictly NCAA here. The rule book states if your hands are separate and you move your arms in an extending motion it is a cross check, or something like that. I agree with that rule, and I don’t want to see attackman getting jacked in the back from a cross check. However, if a player is driving to the net and a defender puts his stick on his hip to help drive him out, I’m OK with that, I’ll sleep at night.
The NCAA believes that if they enforce this rule more strictly, players will stop doing it and it will result in more scoring, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Now, you have to keep in mind that I am speaking with a defensive-minded bias. SSDM’s are helpless to begin with and NCAA wants to take away their last line of defense to increase scoring. You are sacrificing good lacrosse for ticket sales and TV ratings, gutless if you ask me.
I’ll be honest and unmerciful, if you are a college offensive middie and you cannot beat a SSDM because of a “cross-check/hold” you probably shouldn’t be playing offense. I am a slow, out-of-shape, former defense man and even I can beat present day college lacrosse players and get a shot off in summer league ball. If you take away the “hold” from the SSDM, they are virtually useless on the field. Teams attack short sticks a majority of the time because they are the weak spots in the defense. If the NCAA goes through with this rule I think you will start to see a lot more zone defense.
To Sum Things Up:
Those are some of the major rules that NCAA is proposing. I am obviously not a big fan of change, and I think our game is fine how it is. Yes, some tweaking here or there could improve it, but many of the new rule propositions are very drastic. A drastic change can corrupt the game completely and lose a lot of die hard fans. But I guess we will have to wait and see what happens in 2013.