Independence Day is supposed to be a day for celebration, for unity and togetherness. But Hopkins great and leading lacrosse media personality Mark Dixon didn’t get the memo. Great take artists, like great players, know that there are no days off. So he decided to get Lax Twitter all riled up with some proposed rule changes.
Let’s break them down one by one.
1) Reducing the number of faceoffs per game
It’s easy to see the vision behind this one. The faceoff has become a game within the game in recent years. Lacrosse purists don’t like the FOGO position because it allows specialized players to be the most influential man on the field without having to be well-rounded lacrosse players. A dominant faceoff guy can completely change the game.
Mark wants faceoffs only at the start of periods and after every other goal, with the team that got scored on starting with the ball in a clearing scenario, similar to basketball. This reduces the make-it-take-it phenomenon and makes responding to a goal more of a team than an individual effort.
But every other goal seems too lukewarm and overly complicated. It’s a compromise that probably wouldn’t make either side happy. Either keep faceoffs as they are or restrict them to only period starts. No half-assing out here.
A better way to make faceoffs more of a team effort would be to move the wings in closer. This would make the faceoff more about the ground ball efforts of the three-man units and less about the individual technique of the FO middie.
2) 60 second shot clock after 30 second clear satisfied.
We’re on the record as not being big shot clock guys but let’s humor this idea. If you’re going to do a shot clock, this is the best way: start it after the ball is cleared into the box. This allows teams that clear quickly to hold outside the box and start subbing before the clock starts. While I still prefer the current setup — where the clock is at the refs’ discretion and the defensive team’s parents scream for it 30 seconds in — it appears the NCAA is heading in the direction of a shot clock so they might as well do it the right way.
3) Unifying the NCAA and FIL
This is a new idea that sounds pretty good. US Lacrosse is affiliated with the FIL and they collaborate with the NCAA to make rules for play. Fully uniting them could shift some of the power from the college coaches and ADs to the Federation. It could foster more collaboration and help cut through red tape. It would be great to hear from Mark and other leaders of the lacrosse community on what exactly the problem is that this would fix.
4) Instant Replay for DI
This is a good idea. Instant replay made its surprise debut during Championship Weekend 2017 when Ohio State had a shot hit the inside of the pipe and then bounce out. Play continued but after review, the officials awarded the Buckeyes a goal. The limitations for replay were as follows, according to the NCAA:
1) To correct the game clock when there is a malfunction or timing error
2) To review the release of a shot at the end of a period in relation to the expiration of time, and
3) To review if a shot at the end of a period was deflected off of a defensive or offensive player before it entered the goal.
Pretty good. I would add replay for crease dive/push with possession calls, which are widely regarded as the hardest call for officials to make. The other semifinal that year, Maryland-Denver could have used replay to settle two such calls, which resulted in goals being wiped off for both teams. If we can’t have crease dives at least help the refs out.
The issue this brings up is resources. While most games are streamed and every team has a manager filming, replay requires an additional official and additional camera angles. And the last thing we need is to add more roadblocks to colleges looking to add lacrosse. Replay needs to be added gradually, starting with NCAA Tournament games, then trickling into conference tournaments before eventually becoming commonplace in regular season games.
So while we’re not all in on everything here, thank you Mark Dixon for giving our restless Twitter fingers some action in the doldrums of summer. Here’s to hoping the NCAA doesn’t fix too much of a rulebook that really ain’t that broken.