As I was flipping through the Twitter machine this weekend -- Do you follow the site on the Twitter machine? If not, get it done! -- and I happened across the St. John's account which was chronicling the Johnnies' dual at West Point. The Red Storm were in the throws of their second game of the day -- against Harvard -- and this message popped up on the Internet:
The defense forces its first shot clock violation in school history. #stjlax #fallball #newrules— St. John's Lacrosse (@STJ_Lacrosse) October 20, 2012
Nifty! I'm sure there have been other instances of this in the fall period, but this is the first time that I've seen it highlighted during an in-game situation. It's weird: We spent hours and hours writing and arguing about the new rules, especially what became the modified shot clock, and when you finally see the ramifications of it -- "The defense forces its first shot clock violation in school history" -- it kind of hits you like a ton of bricks pushed off the top of a building, eventually landing atop your head as you pass on the sidewalk below because vengeance is a terrible beast and it always comes when you least expect it. (At least good vengeance is like that.)
Pace implications aside -- the argument that has been the flash point for the implementation of a modified shot clock -- there's something here that, at least for me, may have been missed this entire time, and it deals with the specific wording of the tweet from St. John's: We've been focusing on the offense for much of the modified shot clock debate; it's the defense, though, that I think we all maybe forgot about a little bit.
Just look at the wording above: "The defense forces its first shot clock violation. . . ." I love that. For the last few months we've all created chatter about how offenses would react to modified shot clock postures, but there hasn't been enough words around how defenses will create, proactively, increasingly positive defensive positions in modified shot clock situations. That's a fun residue from this whole thing, and when you think about the modified shot clock in terms of defensive issues, some things emerge:
- St. John's, at least in its scenario, was able to create offense by playing good defense. This isn't necessarily an artificial pace-inflater; it's a reward for playing good defense for a reasonable amount of time. That's good for lacrosse. The playing field -- in terms of acceptable performance -- is now leveled, allowing defenses, you know, to not have to guard a seacoast garrison for a dozen years in the vain hope of eventual success.
- This falls under the idea of creating activity as well: With the modified shot clock, defenses can create offense without having to get overly aggressive and start swinging wildly to try and get the ball back. This may have the result of reducing the amount of stupid frustration fouls that seem to follow when a team is forced to scramble to try and gain possession of the bean. A cleaner game is good for America, and what's good for America is good for me (and you, you fine American patriot).
Good stuff, lacrosse. Good stuff.