ILF considers more rules changes Reducing long sticks to 4 influenced by U.S. success

July 16, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS Jamison Hensley, Bill Free and Eduardo A. Encina contributed to this article.

The International Lacrosse Federation has again attempted to level the playing field, trying another way to lessen the United States' dominance.

In 1994, the ILF reduced rosters from 26 to 23, looking to offset the U.S. team's depth advantage. Now the organization wants to further limit the superior U.S. depth by shortening the running game clock from 100 to 80 minutes.

The other significant rule change also has been influenced by U.S. success and involves dropping the number of long-stick defenders on the field from six to four. During the past two world championships, the United States has stifled opponents with six long-pole defenders, allowing an average of only 8.3 goals.

"The adjustment for the U.S. team would have been drastic if we didn't have college coaches coaching," U.S. coach Bill Tierney said. "But for us, it's what we're used to. I think the flip side of that is to understand that the advantage we then gain is they only can play with four long sticks. Now they have to try to stop some of our middies, that's the key."

Iroquois Nationals coach Ron Doctor said that the new stick rule may not hinder his team.

"Some of our guys are used to them," Doctor said. "Some of the club lacrosse leagues in the Northeast have similar rules, like the number of long sticks. There will still be some adaptation."

Canada more versatile

Why does Canada believe it has a much better chance of capturing the 1998 World Lacrosse Games than it did the 1994 Games?

"We don't have a bunch of big thugs on defense like we did in '94," said the team's premier player, Gary Gait. "You watch the game films and you can see those guys were in the penalty box a lot with late hits and slashing calls. Compared to that team, we're much faster and more athletic on defense."

Canada finished third in 1994 with a 5-2 record.

Lyons remembers Brown

Oren Lyons, 68, fund-raising chairman for the Iroquois Nation team, loves to talk about the days he played with Jim Brown on the 1957 Syracuse lacrosse team.

Lyons was a goalkeeper, Brown was a midfielder and recently retired Syracuse coach Roy Simmons Jr. was an attackman on that '57 team. All three are in the Syracuse Hall of Fame.

"No one has ever matched Brown in skill and strength on the lacrosse field," Lyons said. "He told me in the later days of his football career that lacrosse was his favorite of all the sports he played."

Iroquois formidable

The Iroquois National Team has been working since last June, locating talent from reservations, holding tryouts and practicing, attempting to improve on a 2-5 record and a fifth-place finish in the 1994 games, and now many see the team as the most improved from four years ago..

The key: experience. The Iroquois have 12 players under 26 years of age who have college and 1994 World Games experience.

"Knowing the roster we had in 1994, a lot of those guys came to us just out of high school," said Iroquois coach Doctor. "Now they have some years of college experience under their belt.

Pub Date: 7/16/98

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