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?
These proposals didn't get top billing, but at least two of the following recommendations may impact how the game is played as much as the four proposals that received headline treatment. They are as important to pace of play (the committee's primary concern underlying its recommendations) as the big ticket items, but more importantly they are an organic evolution of the game. Which is nice. Here's the juice on the final few items:
- The horn is dead! Regular substitutions -- if you want to get technical and make your eyes cross just before you start bleeding from the ear -- appears to have been rendered extinct, replaced with substitutions on the fly (which isn't too different than special substitutions).
- Not only is the horn dead, but the substitution box may expand from 10 to 20 yards. (The team bench area, however, is staying at its current dimension.)
- To assist with quick restarts and increased pace of play, teams are required to keep a minimum of six balls and a maximum of 10 balls available at each end line and sideline. There's all kinds of recommendations of how and where these balls need to be kept, but I'd rather attempt to eat a lacrosse ball covered in flaming gasoline than write those requirements on the Internet.
- If the ball returns to the defensive half of the field and the offensive team regains possession, officials have a Constitutional duty to start the 30-second shot protocol. Our Founding Fathers are grinning through their dead, wooden teeth.
- Officials will carry additional points of emphasis:
- Unsportsmanlike conduct (with respect to sideline behavior, it appears);
- The cross-check hold; and
- Faceoff players touching things with their hands.
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 a team doesn't have a substitution box strategy (or a coach that is competent and dedicated to the substitution box), they could get caught both defensively (on a cherry-picking opponent coming in deeper toward the attack box or on a quick restart) and offensively (missing opportunities to streak the field or catching the defense in an uneven situation on their substitution). There is a lot at play here with the increased size of the substitution box and on-the-fly subs (which doesn't feel like it is going to be significantly different than special substitutions): How will defenses deal with the expanded box (leave a man back toward the box, etc.)? How will offenses adjust to the increased substitution box while in offensive postures and also in light of the new "create an offensive opportunity" edict (will we see more or less substitutions in-possession and how will these be done, etc.)? This could potentially be thrilling, but if a team is unprepared and doesn't have an executable strategy during play, they could be boned.
- I like sportsmanship, but if Maryland can no longer beat the hell out of each other after scoring goals under this new sideline behavior point of emphasis, I'm going to have to cut somebody.
- I'm not really sure how referees are going to address the cross-check hold, but short-stick midfielders -- some of the heaviest offenders of the move -- are potentially in really tough shape if officials start calling this by the letter of the law. This rule could really tilt the balance of power toward offenses, and short-stick midfielders -- hampered not necessarily with their athleticism but with their implement -- could really get exposed if they are not permitted to try and gain a little leverage.
So, who's throwing a party with a petting zoo in recognition of these proposed rules? Here are some initial assumptions:
- Television audiences are going to love these new rules. With fewer stoppages, these recommendations all appear to create more fluidity in the game. Even the emphasis on calling the cross-check hold creates a more flowing pace of play. This kind of stuff translates well to the ol' tube with people running free all over the place.
Those are my thoughts. The comments are yours to make the Internet full of your thoughts.