College Lacrosse Rule Proposals: Stick Specifications

March 24, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Lacrosse sticks lie on the ground behind the Virginia Cavaliers bench prior to the Cavaliers' game against the John Hopkins Blue Jays at Klockner Stadium. The Blue Jays won 11-10 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

The NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rules Committee made a bunch of rules recommendations last week. I'll write words about them; you read those words about them; we'll all have a sandwich afterwards and remember the great time we had writing and reading words about rules. Also, Mike LaFontaine is our spirit guide.

HEY! WHA' HAPPENED?

Did you like stringing a "V" or "U" into your mesh? Well, you're days of turning your head into a functional padlock safe are potentially over, friend. Here's what's being proposed:

  • Any additional stringing or lacing -- or, as the common man that eats meatloaf and has pictures of his family in his wallet calls it, "shooting strings" -- must now be located within three-and-one-half inches from the top of the stick.
  • Sidewall stringing is getting some regulation as well, seeing limitation to only one string on each side of the crosse.

There's a three-point field test that officials will administer to determine whether the specifications are met. (I'm not going to detail the test here because it is boring and boring things aren't fun things.) If a stick fails any of the three tests, however, the crosse will be deemed illegal and a one-minute, non-releasable foul will be enforced. The stick will also be removed from the game (not from a cannon, which is just a disappointing lack of forward thinking).

More after the jump.

I CAN'T DO MY WORK!

So, who's totally screwed with these proposed rules? Here are some initial assumptions:

  • If folks had trouble protecting the bean with a channel in the head, they're probably going to have serious trouble mitigating turnovers with a sticks without extra stringing. Looking at last year's turnovers per offensive possession metric, teams like Mercer, Wagner, Pennsylvania, Detroit, and Providence -- the nation's worst clubs in turnovers per offensive possession -- probably aren't going to like the fact that the rules committee is pushing this measure to stop players from looking "invincible when carrying the ball." In fact, teams of this ilk will be potentially more vincible, which qualifies as "Really Bad News" in the "Bad News Department."
  • In the rules committee release, the chair of the committee also notes that the proposal is designed to force a player to "move the ball." So, there is a possible impact to teams that were relying on a lot of one-on-one play (i.e., teams that didn't rely on assisted opportunities to actually score goals) in their offensive production. Mercer, Wagner, VMI, Michigan, and Holy Cross had the five lowest outputs in offensive assist rate in 2012, and teams of that style could be in a little bit of trouble in 2012 should this proposal go through. (It's also important to note that Mercer and Wagner have all kinds of problems other than being listed twice on the "Endangered Lacrosse Team: Proposed Rule Impact" list. Of course, failure of these proposals to go through isn't necessarily going to help them survive, either.)
  • It's unclear how the stringing rule will impact offensive shooting as that area of the game doesn't find a relatively direct corollary to any statistical metric. I think that players are going to vociferously scream that they're going to have a tougher time canning the bean, but all those cats that have been using traditional stringing on their crosses mitigate that argument a little bit (in terms of the necessity of having "V"- and "U"-stringing). There is likely a true performance impact here with respect to the proposed rule and shooting ability, but some of it may be a security fallacy. Time will tell with this, I guess.

THAT'S RIGHT!

So, who's throwing a party with a petting zoo in recognition of these proposed rules? Here are some initial assumptions:

  • Pressure-oriented teams have to love this proposition, especially teams that get out and ride and have long-stick midfielders that can get the ball on the ground and trigger a transition opportunity. Teams like the five clubs in 2012 that lead the nation in caused turnovers per defensive possession -- Loyola, Bucknell, Massachusetts, Detroit, and Bryant -- are likely licking their chops that they'll be able to kill defensive possessions before exposing their goalies to preferred shots. Teams like Hopkins, Michigan, Penn State, Quinnipiac, and Georgetown -- 2012's leader in ride rate -- will also benefit from a rule that potentially puts in peril the one-man-clear that somehow snakes through a bunch of checks on the way to the attack box despite facing a ride.
  • There are a lot of factors that go into pace (total possession per 60 minutes of play), but, as Jon Hind notes, the proposal is intended to "have a direct impact on pace of play." Teams that have a level of comfort around hectic play (even if those teams haven't exactly succeeded in that style of play) will likely find the rule transition somewhat comfortable. If we think about last year's pace leaders -- Georgetown, Detroit, Mercer, Robert Morris, Hobart, and Colgate -- teams of that nature may revel in extra ball-down/transition-opportunity play postures.

Those are my thoughts. The comments are yours to make the Internet full of your thoughts.

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