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Examining the New Men's Lacrosse Rules

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By Tom Zulewski, Special to from The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The NCAA approved several new rules in men's lacrosse that are aimed at speeding up the game. Among the new rules, the most anticipated rule change is the establishment of a 30-second shot clock after a stall warning has been issued.

Other changes include the expansion of the substitution box from 10 to 20 yards. Officials must whistle for a restart as soon as an opposing player is within five yards of the player who was awarded the ball. Under previous rules, a defender could step in front of an opposing player on the sideline, which would lengthen the time of restart.

Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni said the new rules will be beneficial to the fans of college lacrosse. But he is not a fan of one aspect of the new stall warning procedure.

"I think it's going to be great for the fans," Tambroni said. "The game is much faster. There are no more horns on sideline. No stoppages of play and if there does become at least a little bit of a stall I think it's a good concept.  I just don't like the fact that the officials have too much at stake in counting down the last 10 seconds."  

Tambroni is referring to the fact that the NCAA didn't institute a visible shot clock. Officials will signal a stall warning and the start of the 20-second timer. Once the 20 seconds expire, a 10 second hand count will be administered by an official closest to the ball. That official has the duty to keep track of the count until shot is taken or time expires. According to the NCAA rule book, "a valid shot is defined as an attempt to score that is on goal, hits the goal cage, or a goal score."

The previous "get in, keep it in" rule is no longer. "Get it in" referred to when the ball was outside the attack area and an official would verbally announce "get it in." The team in possession would then advance the ball into the attack area within 10 seconds and keep the ball in attack area. The "keep it in" warning was used when the ball was inside the attack area and the team in possession must keep the ball in the attack area. 

Tambroni did mention the possibility of getting 30-second shot clocks within the Colonial Athletic Association. The problem, he said, was that some teams might not be able to afford it.

"I think we're going to try and point that out," Tambroni said. "I think it would make it a little bit easier on the officials and also create for a wonderful intended rule to be carried out in a more accessible fashion."

This new rule will certainly have an adverse effect on some teams that are notorious for winning face-offs then holding onto the ball for long periods of time.

Of the 160 minutes Penn State has played this fall only three stall warnings were called. Early indications are the new rules are popular among the players.

"I kind of like it because it makes the offense go to the ball if you're trying to stall," said junior attacker Shane Sturgis.  

Senior mid-fielder Nick Dolik is a fan of the new on the fly substitution rule.  

"I think most of guys like it because it speeds the game up," Dolik said. "That fast pace game is fun for everybody to play, however you've got to be ready to go." 

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