Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the death of the Bag.

In recent years there was an epidemic hitting lacrosse fields all over the country: bagged out pockets [as a d-man, I actually used one myself for a little while! it is a little embarrassing but I wasn't exactly a "finesse" guy...].

The use of draw strings had become prevalent in the club, college and high school levels. The college game in particular was really suffering because [more so than high school or club] the college game is one of possession evidenced best by Princeton and Hopkins' respective styles of play. Obvious exceptions that jump to mind are UVA and 'Cuse who like to run n' gun, however, the majority of teams outside the top tier will slow it down when they play competitive games. The drawstring-aided bags and pinched heads came together with this slow-down style of play and when combined with the refs' inability to check for violations to create a perfect storm involving REALLY deep pockets and lots of them.

The rules were changed and now refs do a lot of stick checks throughout the course of the game. Drawstrings were made illegal and touching your pocket after a ref asks to see it is being watched carefully as well and will result in an infraction. These new rules have really improved the quality of the game.

I have seen better passing, more takeaway checks dislodging the ball, more turnovers, more excitement and better shooting and I give all of the credit to the new rules and the refs as well as the Rules Committee for making the changes. Next year, the pinched heads will fall by the wayside [to a certain extent, at least] and I think we can expect to again see even better passing, more accurate shooting, great takeaway checks and a lot of up and down due to turnovers. This will increase the pace of the game as possession is never assured.

Will these moves increase scoring? I don't know that yet and think it could go either way but I would much rather see an up and down style of play that results in a 8-6 game than a 13-10 game where a couple of the top players just held the ball until they weaved through 4 players and scored from 7 yards out because no one could knock the ball out of their stick.

We don't need to get back to the days of wooden sticks and short shorts but we have gone too far away from what made the game great: passing, lots of running, back and forth battles, ground balls and a certain amount of uncertainty. The rules will reward the better players the most by allowing the game to be one of creativity and not technology but we will all reap the benefits because the product on the field will be that much sweeter.

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