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NCAA Lacrosse Rules Congress Kicks Off Today, Shot Clock Debate Expected to Dominate Meetings


Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Welp, this is it: The NCAA's biennial rules committee meetings start today. There seem to be three primary areas of discussion heading into the committee's conclave:

  1. Whether to implement a purer shot clock, and if so, how it should be done.
  2. Whether the rules committee does anything reagrding faceoffs.
  3. Whether anything needs to get done pertaining to the push/dive determination around the crease.

This is exciting stuff. There will probably be chinese food take-out and people accusing each other of eating too many egg rolls because, "Dude! You had like four and I only had one!" This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

The biggest focus of these meetings is on  whether the committee adopts changes -- either going toward a different paradigm or renovating the current timer-on rule -- to the NCAA's current shot clock situation. There are a myriad of approaches to this debate, but Bill Tierney has taken a unique position in this whole thing: He doesn't think that a shot clock is going to increase the actual pace of the game.

But the important question is: Was the timer-on measure a fine stopgap to an inventible hard shot clock or has it done enough to speed up the game, as intended?

"We're one foot in, one foot out," said Ohio State coach Nick Myers, whose team two years ago played in an experimental scrimmage against North Carolina featuring a shot clock. "You needed to do this to get enough people on board, but I think there's enough frustration where people realize you have to have a visible clock, whether it's a shot clock or visible clock so officials aren't counting down. We'll see where it goes. We're going to be in the shot clock era. It's just how fast do we get there?"

The general consensus among coaches appears to be right about now. On a pair of IMLCA conference calls in May to determine recommendations to the rules committee, not one coach that participated — with representation coming from all divisions— said they would vote against a clock, according to sources.

"I do think it's coming," Denver coach Bill Tierney, the IMLCA's liason to the rules committee who will sit in on the meetings, said in an interview for a Lacrosse Magazine story in the August issue. "We'll see.

"[But] a lot of the coaches who are calling for it, I think are calling for it for the wrong reasons. It's not going to speed the game up. They have to understand that. But what it is going to do, for the refs, it's going to make for a lot less arbitrary stuff. And for the fans, it will be a better situation. Even though the refs did a better job with it this year than last, it's still too arbitrary, too hard to explain to common people and it makes our game looks silly sometimes."

There is value in Tierney's position: Organic pace -- the pace that folks saw Albany play with in 2014 -- provided verve to the game; a hard shot clock has the potential of creating superficial pace but the drawback of teams attempting to deflate that pace through various defensive tactices and maximized offensive possessions. Some dirty math -- and this math is far from pinpoint accuracy -- further increases Tierney's assertion that a shot clock will not speed up the game: The average length of a possession last season was about 60 seconds. (Again, that's dirty math: I just divided each team's total minutes played by each team's estimated total possessions played; I didn't do any boxscore scouring.)

As for everything else that may or may not be on the table this week, here are some brief thoughts:

  • I would be shocked -- shocked! -- if the rules committee doesn't adopt a mandatory visual shot clock (regardless of whether they go to a pure shot clock or renovate the timer-on rule). The silent timer hasn't worked well at all.
  • I have no problem with the the rules committee going to a pure shot clock to remove the responsibility from officials to determine if a team is stalling. That seems to be the most reasonable reason to go to a hard shot clock. If they don't go to a hard shot clock at all, then there needs to be a firmer grasp around what is stalling to push teams into creating organic pace.
  • I have no idea what the committee is going to do about faceoffs. I highly doubt that they get eliminated. I think that they do address the ball-in-the-back-of-the-crosse situation. I think that they also address leaning, which has become straight up stupid.

Everything else is just existing in the atmosphere for me. What about you guys? What do you think happens this week, and more importantly, what do you want to happen this week?

More Reading

Great Shot Clock Debate Focus of This Week's Rules Meetings -- Lacrosse Magazine
Coaches Survey: Will the NCAA Add a Shot Clock for 2015? -- Inside Lacrosse
With Baltimore ties, NCAA lacrosse panel to consider changes to shot clock, faceoffs -- Baltimore Sun