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College Lacrosse Rule Proposals: Shot Clock

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.


Everyone has an opinion on whether college lacrosse should have a shot clock. Seriously. Look at the back of your Social Security card. Do you see it? It should look like this:

Do you believe college lacrosse should have a shot clock?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No

[ ] Maybe

These were initially sent across the country in folded up pieces of spiral notebook paper and reeked of bad Abercrombie & Fitch perfume, but the NCAA finally settled on co-opting Social Security cards in a landmark deal with the government. (And people say that bureaucracies never get anything done. Pfft.)

Anyway, as part of the proposals published last week, it appears as if the rules committee took a compromising approach that attempts to marry a shot clock with many coaches' desire to let their offenses work without timing pressure. Here's the juice:

  • When the officials signal for a stall warning, a shot must be taken within 30 seconds. There isn't going to be a visible shot clock; instead, on-field officials will administer the count. A valid shot is defined as an attempt to score that is on goal (e.g., saved by the goalkeeper, hits the goal cage, goal scored). If the 30 seconds expires without a valid shot, the ball will be awarded to the defending team. Also: The "get it in, keep it in" call was eliminated . . . WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!
  • Now, because the NCAA wants to poop in officials' pants, there's a seven -- seven! -- part protocol that referees will follow to make this shot clock thing happen:
    • Officials will signal for a stall warning and start a 20-second timer.
    • At the end of the 20-second timer, a bomb will explode and the President of the United States will be put in grave danger. Or a 10-second hand count will be administered by the official closest to the ball. (Probably the latter will happen instead of the former.) The official that is conducting the hand count will have the responsibility for the count until a shot is taken or time expires.
    • During the 30-second countdown, situations where a shot goes out of bounds and the offensive team maintains possession will be handled like this:
      • With more than 10 seconds remaining in the count, the timer continues to run and the procedure continues.
      • If the timer expires before the restart, a 10-second count will be administered beginning on the restart.
      • With less than 10 seconds remaining, the official shall hold the hand count when the whistle blows and continue the count on the restart.
    • A shot that hits the pipe or is saved and then possessed by the offensive team nullifies the stall warning.
    • In a flag down situation, the shot count will continue until it expires or a shot is taken.
    • Stalling will not be called during a man advantage.
    • If a shot hits a defensive team player other than the goalkeeper, it will not be considered a shot on goal.

There's also a point of emphasis here that the team possessing the ball must try and create a scoring opportunity. (I have no idea what that means.) There are exceptions to this decree: If the team possessing the ball is in the attack area and the defensive team is not playing the ball, a stall warning will not be issued until either (1) the defensive team attempts to play the ball or (2) the offensive team brings the ball outside the attack area. However, because rules are designed to be impossible to fully comprehend, a stall warning may be issued when the offensive team has the ball outside the attack area or below the goal line extended regardless of whether the defensive team is playing the ball.

Got it? No? Good. That means that you quit reading many words ago. Go make a snack. You deserve it.

More after the jump.


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

  • With the nebulous definition around "stalling" and "creating a scoring opportunity," officials and coaches both look like they're going to want to spit fire if this rule goes into place in the proposed form. The issue here is going to be how the stall warning is going to go into place to trigger the countdown. Will there be general universality in its imposition? Will officials be more or less likely to call a stall with the countdown looming immediately after? Welcome to the great new wonderful.
  • More directly, those teams that traditionally dominate offensive possession are going to need to readdress their offensive approach. Teams like Hofstra, Drexel, Maryland, and Notre Dame -- four teams that saw the nation's highest values in estimated time of possession in 2012 -- are probably going to need to emphasize their approaches to goal to ensure that they don't get into situations where the shot clock accelarates their opportunities with the bean. Where these teams will get hurt is that their patience in developing scoring opportunities is now truncated. That's a difficult paradigm shift to overcome in just five months.
  • The last bullet point is obvious, but there's a subtle impact here that may have been overlooked: Teams that have a difficult time generating shots in the offensive end (or choosing not to litter the field with shots) and also have accuracy issues are looking at some potentially heightened sloppiness and increased inefficiency under the rule given its edict to make a goalie work. Based on 2012 performance, four clubs -- Providence, Mercer, Georgetown, Lafayette, and VMI -- are decent examples of teams that could struggle under the new rules. As this rule totally changes the game, however, it's obviously impossible to rest on prior statistical measures to determine what kind of team would struggle under these circumstances as no team has ever performed under these rules in regulation play. So, I'm guessing. Deal with it.


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

  • I'm not going to detail to the inverse of the second and third bullet points above. Instead, how about this from Quint Kessenich:
    Goalie save percentages should increase by a few saves per game as teams will be forced to take lower quality shots late in the shot clock.

    That's a really sharp take on the rule implementation that I hadn't thought about. It's just not the teams with great ball stoppers that could see a benefit, though; it's also teams that rely on their keeper to make a stop that could see a benefit. Teams like Jacksonville, Notre Dame, Penn State, Towson, and St. John's (teams with returning keepers that had high save percentages and were also asked to end a lot of defensive possessions with a stop) may thrive under this new system.

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