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NCAA Considering Two-Point Goals For Lacrosse, Among Other Proposals

September 15, 2016
The NCAA is considering several proposals to alter the game of lacrosse, most notably implementing two-point goals.

Under the plan, teams would be awarded two points if they score within 30 seconds of gaining possession. However, the potential new rule would be limited in scope because after 30 seconds have elapsed, the two-point goal opportunity would no longer be in effect.

Furthermore, if either team calls timeout, the offensive team will not be awarded two points. This potential new rule includes a variety of timing options, including a visible shot clock, rather than simply depending on the game officials for guidance.

Bob Shriver, the legendary former lacrosse coach at Boys' Latin, said the new rules would alter the overall strategy and in-game management. Inevitably, coaches would adapt to the new rule and find ways to use them to their advantage.

"How would a team approach each and every end of a period?" Shriver said. "Teams would figure out mathematically how many attempts versus successes they have if they shot within 30 seconds of possession versus how many if they just played it ‘normal.' The computations and permutations would be daunting, but coaches would figure the best strategies for their team based on the talent level, the opponents. Coaches' jobs are to figure things out."

Traditionalists might be opposed to the different rules. However, the NCAA is constantly looking at ways to improve all sports. Shriver said a two-point goal could benefit the game if coaches are able to effectively execute the strategy.

"If you look at it as a big picture, it would logically force or ask teams to speed up their play and bring the most beautiful part of our game, the fast break/unsettled situations, back to the fore," Shriver said.

Shriver said the two-point goal could be a challenge to implement at the high school level because of the added expense of a shot clock. 

The NCAA is also mulling a proposal to alter faceoffs. Under the plan, officials will center the ball consistently five inches from the middle of the head of each player's stick for more consistency and to promote fairness. 

"The rules proposal aims to make the officiating mechanic clear and consistent for each faceoff and to enhance the fairness of the faceoff play," NCAA officials said in a report.

The committee also recommended a proposal that corrects a loophole in timeout rules.

Teams that call a timeout would satisfy the clearing rule, which prevents opponents from wasting time late in a game or half with the 30-second rule to advance the ball into the attack area.

"The rule changes in recent years have helped to return the speed and pace of play to the game," said Bob Scalise, chair of the committee and director of athletics at Harvard University. "The committee is pleased overall with the look and feel of the game, and our rules survey and feedback agree with this sentiment. The committee is always looking to improve the game, but no major rules changes are needed at this time."

An oversight panel designated by the NCAA must approve all of the proposals. If the panel gives its OK, men's college lacrosse programs can use the new rules during the fall season, whether in practice or during scrimmages. The NCAA will then collect feedback and data from the coaches and game officials for further review.

According to the NCAA, other new rules being considered include:

• Restricted offensive area: Once offensive teams have moved the ball into the restricted offensive area, they would not be allowed to move it back out, thus preventing teams from stalling.

• Ten-yard substitution area: The committee is looking closer at the impact of a smaller substitution box -- 10 yards. Officials are trying to determine whether more offensive transition opportunities can be created with a smaller box.

• Communication devices for on-field officials: This is a trend across several sports, and the NCAA is looking at the technology for lacrosse.

Issue 225: September 2016