The Atlantic Sun Conference's addition of men's lacrosse means another automatic qualifier for the 2014 NCAA tournament. And, it means more than half the tournament will be AQs, which is not allowed according to NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1. The Atlantic Sun's team would be the ninth AQ in the 16-team field.
A play-in game is a potential solution, but the NCAA has drited away from such arrangements. NCAA tournament expansion could be the next step.
"The NCAA isn't big on play-ins anymore — rowing, field hockey and women's lacrosse are all heading that direction," said Jim Siedliski, the Big East Conference associate commissioner for Olympic sports and newly named chair of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship Committee. "In a perfect world, the thought would be to go to 20 [in the NCAA tournament]. That's something I've been pointing to for a few years."
A 20-team field would mean that 29.4 percent of Division I men's teams make the postseason, considerably higher than in basketball (19.5 percent).
Another factor is the impending possibility of Big Ten men's lacrosse. Big Ten athletic directors will meet this weekend to consider proposals and ideas submitted by their associate ADs that work on sports other than football and basketball. Regardless of whether the much-discussed option of adding Johns Hopkins comes to fruition, movement toward a Big Ten conference appears strong.
•Onondaga Community College sophomore attackman Randy Staats, the reigning National Junior College Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year and a decorated box lacrosse player from Six Nations, intends to enroll and play lacrosse at Syracuse after graduating from Onondaga. Staats registered 57 goals and 82 assists in leading the Lazers to their fourth consecutive NJCAA title last season. In doing so, he shattered the single-season junior-college points record.
The cousin of former OCC and Syracuse All-American and current Rochester Knighthawk Cody Jamieson, Staats also considered Maryland and Hofstra in addition to Syracuse.
The addition of Staats would give the Orange two high-profile offensive players in 2014; North Carolina transfer Nicky Galasso might redshirt this season after suffering a broken foot in the preseason.
•Increasing pace of play was a goal in the sweeping rule changes passed this year. Though the verdict is still out, some initial numbers support an increased pace of play. According to Inside Lacrosse statistical expert Brian Coughlin, who has studied pace and possession analysis as a member of Villanova's staff, possessions per 60 minutes has increased 6 percent compared with last year, or an extra possession every quarter. The Johns Hopkins-Siena game Feb. 8 featured 75 total possessions compared with 64 a year prior. It's too early to call it a trend or say whether the increased pace of play will continue. But with six of the 24 weekend games being decided by a goal, early signs indicate that this season might be as unpredictable as any other.
•Richie Easterly, a sophomore attackman from Westhill High in Onandaga, N.Y., has orally committed to play men's lacrosse at Loyola.
The 5-foot-11, 177-pound Easterly enters his third year of varsity lacrosse, starting on extra-man opportunities his eighth-grade year (8 goals, 5 assists) and leading the team in assists his freshman year (15, 24).
Easterly is also a two-year starter on the varsity football team, earning first-team all-league honors his sophomore year. Easterly also considered Albany, Bucknell, Colgate and Fairfield.
•Junior attackman Dawson Allen of Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has orally committed to Mount St. Mary's. Allen was a 2012 Brine All-American, Blue Chip 225 All-Star and Brine National Lacrosse Classic All-Star.
As a sophomore he posted 65 goals, 15 assists and 95 ground balls; he set the league record for goals scored in a single game with 12. He also considered High Point, Bryant and St. John's.