Pressing Forward

Well lacrosse fans, here we are. It looks like we’ve finally made it to the age of the defined shot clock. A couple of years ago, we got the (albeit, arbitrary) thirty-second shot clock that starts at the referee’s discretion, in lieu of a stall warning or “keep it in” call. Even then, many of the game’s ambassadors, fans, and players looked to the MLL and asked: when is NCAA Men’s lacrosse going to get a defined shot clock?

It’s been a slow rise. Gone are the days of substitution horns, 4-minute possessions without a shot, and the sneaky tricks everyone did to slow down the opponent’s quick restarts. Now, it seems that the game is finding ways to get faster and faster every year. The rules committee has spent the last few years ironing out those details and making sure that the game moves fluidly, retains excitement, and keeps competition fair. So far, so good. It seems that now, we’re kicking it up one more notch – one that has been in discussion for a long time.

The subjective 30 second shot clock that starts at the referee’s discretion has come under a lot of fire in the last few seasons since its implementation. Players, coaches, and fans have cited the decision-making of the referee as the Achilles heel of what could be an amazing advancement for college lacrosse. It leave too much open for debate and discussion. When’s a fair time to put on a shot clock? When’s an unfair time? When does it unintentionally rush an opportunity for a team that doesn’t deserve to be rushed at that point in the game?

Enter the NCAA Rules Committee. As of Monday, August 14th, they’ve moved to test a 60-second shot clock this fall. The shot clock will start when a team gains possession. If the team has to clear the ball, they will have 30 seconds to advance it into the offensive box, and 30 seconds will remain to take a shot on cage. If the shot clock is satisfied, the attacking team will get a fresh clock of 60 seconds if they get the ball back.

“I think the shot clock is a nice addition to the college game. It has proven successful at the professional level and creates a much more dynamic atmosphere of play. The skill level of college players is greater than ever. The shot clock pushes players to be more creative and puts them in greater situations to showcase their talent. I’m excited to its implementation and think it will be well received by both players and fans”
– Mike Bocklet

Whether or not one agrees on the duration of the shot clock (60 seconds is the same length as the shot clock used in the MLL), this format will no doubt speed up the game, as well as remove the subjectivity of the referee’s decision making in the process. I have full confidence that this will be good for the game – this should be enough for the concept of the defined shot clock to finally make its way to NCAA Men’s lacrosse in 2019. Knowing how the Rules Committee works, it will likely change form in the minutiae, but this is a great move for the game.

As our game evolves, we have to keep pressing forward. When it comes to rules, this might be the best push in recent years. It should be exciting to watch how all of this plays out.

Photo by Mark Brown.

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