One of the slowest teams in the country is getting its hands around new rules designed to create heat.
Hofstra is in a similar situation to Maryland going into 2013. With the force of rules that are designed to create more tempo in college lacrosse now in effect -- punishing the stall warning and supporting teams with jet packs and rocket fuel in their Gatorade buckets -- how will the Pride, a very patient team under Seth Tierney over the last few seasons, adjust to this new reality?
Inside Lacrosse stopped over to Hempstead recently to see how things were going at Shuart Stadium. In addition to dropping some knowledge on Hofstra's goalkeeping situation -- it was the biggest nightmare fuel entering 2013 that the Pride needed to deal with -- some super important stuff was written on the Internet machine about how the Pride are dealing with the pace-pace-pace paradigm:
Not too fast
The NCAA went head first with adding new rules for the 2013 season. Tierney is not against the changes, but cautioned that the sport needs to take it slow.
His biggest concern is the referees becoming overwhelmed by the amount of rules they must enforce; especially this year with the new 30-second shot clock following a stall warning. Tierney brought up a good point at the Colleluori Classic: How can you have a shot clock without a shot clock?
Otherwise, he said the team is taking it one rule at a time in fall practices. The day I attended, the squad ran a controlled scrimmage IN WHICH the shot clock was used after the offense established possession up the field. There was a visual clock, so the number of violations was minimal. The players were eager to restart quickly and the coaches were pushing them to get the ball back into play.
To provide a little context to this, since 2009 Hofstra has finished among the bottom five in the country in average total possessions per 60 minutes of play on four occassions. Specifically:
- 2009: Pace -- 63.77 (56th, about four possessions slower than the national average)
- 2010: Pace -- 66.99 (37th, about two possessions slower than the national average)
- 2011: Pace -- 59.56 (59th, about eight possessions slower than the national average)
- 2012: Pace -- 58.01 (61st, about seven possessions slower than the national average)
With the exception of the blip that was 2010 -- a year in which the Pride went to the NCAA Tournament behind Jay Card, Jamie Lincoln, and Stephen Bentz (among others) -- Hofstra has been consistently trending towards the bottom of the country (and, eventually, the actual bottom of the country) in terms of number of possessions the team plays in an average game. When you look at estimated possession time, Hofstra doesn't look all that much more like gazelles on the plains, increasing their possession times to the incredibly patient. This all leads to the obvious question: How the hell is Hofstra going to deal with rules that want quick substitions and will provide shot clock postures?
Answer: It's all undeniable doom! (Or we won't know until February. Probably that.)
Here's why I'm still pretty confident that Seth Tierney and Associates, LLC, are going to be okay entering this new regime: (1) The Pride weren't too far away in 2012; and (2) Everyone else is forced to play in this reality. Even if the new rules force the offense to go a little quicker than they have in the recent past, the defense -- should a competent option in the net emerge -- is going to be among the better outfits in THUNDERDOME! That should, at the very least, keep Hofstra in games. With a new dedication to playing for 60 minutes instead of 45, the Pride should be in a good spot come late-April. There are going to be growing pains in Hempstead (both at the player level and coaching/strategic level), but Hofstra isn't going into this with their pants down while screaming wildly down the street in only their skivvies.