With High Point and Delaware kicking off the NCAA division I schedule this week, I thought we should overview some of the more relevant rule changes taking effect this year.
Starting this year, all facilities capable of displaying a shot clock will have shot clocks installed to visually count down the 20-second timer-on calls. By 2016, all facilities must have shot clocks installed. Last year the referees counted down the timer using a hand count. This year the refs have been directed to count down timer-on calls using the game clock if a shot clock has not been installed.
The second major change for 2015 revolves around the faceoff x. A player taking faceoffs may not pick up or carry the ball on the back of his stick, doing so will result in a faceoff violation. A player can still clamp the ball with the back of his stick but he must rake or move the ball immediately. Additionally, FOGOs now may not use any part of their bodies to initiate contact with an opposing FOGO’s stick or his own stick, again a violation will result if contact is initiated.
During a dead ball timeout, just before a restart, only the team that has possession, or is entitled to possession of the ball, may call a timeout.
Stalling calls will be met on the release of the ball on a shot and not the ball crossing the goal line.
In terms of a player taking a shot while falling into the crease, if a player dives into the crease a crease violation will still result. However, if a player’s feet remain grounded and the player releases the ball before landing in the crease, a resulting goal will now count.
If a team successfully clears the ball into its offensive half of the field and then the ball returns to the defensive side of the field, this will result in a violation and be a turnover instead of a timer-on call. If the ball returns to the defensive end by way of a shot or deflected ball then a violation will not result.
The most significant rule change is obviously the changes to the faceoff game. It will be interesting to see what practical effects this rule will have on FOGOs. The visible counter won’t affect the game, but should be a welcome addition for fans and players as it will make things clearer.
As I mentioned, the first game of the year will take place on Saturday, February 1 between High Point and Delaware. The following weekend is when the season really gets started, featuring 16 teams including: #3 Duke at High Point, Furman at #6 North Carolina, Colgate at #14 Bryant, UMBC at #5 Johns Hopkins, #10 Virginia at #7 Loyola, #18 Army at UMass, Marquette at #14 Lehigh and Siena at #4 Syracuse. It will be a long two weeks until then, but it sure should be worth it.