The Washington Times - February 2, 2009, 09:27AM

There are a lot of ways to spend a free Saturday afternoon before an evening basketball tip.

Some are as mundane as grocery shopping. Others are much more exciting.

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I spent a few hours at a lacrosse scrimmage in Annapolis.

This is a way of saying five things:

1. The college lacrosse regular season is almost here (it arrives Saturday)
2. I’ll have a few remarks on Navy and Virginia here before the day is out
3. The blog will be loaded with lacrosse items as the season unfolds
4. Going to a lacrosse scrimmage is only slightly less insane than standing in the rain for a Maryland JV football game
5. There’s a statistical matter in lacrosse I’ve been meaning to mention.

And thus, the point of this post.

Unlike in more high-profile sports, statistical definitions in lacrosse typically haven’t been definite. There’s been room for interpretation, and an assist near Princeton Junction might not be an assist in Annapolis. And a groundball in Charlottesville might not be one at Homewood.

Really, the inconsistency for years was stunning and, at times, hilarious. There was never a truly correct answer, even if common sense said there was.

Which is where the new stats manual – forged by a portion of the small group of regular lacrosse sports information directors – comes into play.

Obviously, this won’t directly impact whether Virginia can win its fourth title in 11 years, or if Maryland’s attack will live up to its considerable talent, or if Georgetown can return to the NCAA tournament, or if Navy can actually score goals this season. But it brings greater order to record-keeping, and it’s just another sign of lacrosse’s growth that several someones decided that specifically defining a faceoff, a groundball, an assist and several other things was a worthwhile thing.

Patrick Stevens