Editorial: Fans, stay seated until we leave
Coach K. is upset with officials for not helping Duke leave the court after a 73-68 loss to University of Virginia
After guard Jaron Lane hit the lay-up to tie the game 81-81 and a UNC Asheville timeout with 37 seconds left in overtime, Liberty held the ball for one last shot.
Guard Jesse Sanders dribbled the ball up the court and passed it to forward David Minaya, who rose and attempted a shot. It clanked off the rim, but forward John Brown gathered the ball and tipped it in the bucket just as time expired.
The 4,000 fans that filled the Vines Center poured onto the court to celebrate an 83-81 Liberty victory.
This was the scene two years ago when the 15-9 Liberty Flames faced the 10-10 UNC Asheville Bulldogs.
Storming the court after a game is a symbolic tradition that occurs when a team that has no business winning achieves victory against a top-ranked opponent. Recently, however, the tradition has become more of a regularity than a special moment.
In a two-week time period, there were at least eight games where fans stormed the floor to celebrate. Villanova has stormed the court twice, but schools such as Indiana, Butler, Gonzaga, North Carolina State and Duke all faced massive crowds.
The most notable incident was Thursday, Feb. 28, when the University of Virginia upended No. 3 Duke, 73-68.
After the loss, Duke Head Coach Mike Kryzewski was not pleased that his team was unable to leave the court before the madness ensued, and he was worried about the safety of his coaches and players.
“It’s not all fun and games when people are rushing the court, especially for the team that lost,” Kryzewski said to the Raleigh News & Observer. “Again, congratulations to them, and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff. I’m for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court. That’s the bottom line.”
Duke has been on the opposite end of the celebration for the past two decades. Before the game against UVA, they were at the mercy of three other ACC opponents like rivals N.C. State, the Maryland Terrapins and the Miami Hurricanes.
Some would say that the legendary coach is a sore loser. However, Kryzewski may have a point.
Just ask current Charlotte Bobcat and former University of Kentucky Wildcat forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. In a game against the Indian Hoosiers, Kidd-Gilchrist ended up in the bottom of a mosh pit when Hoosier players and students trampled on him after their win.
Now, I am not saying that this action was done purposefully, but Kidd-Gilchrist could have been seriously hurt at the bottom of the dog pile.
Not only should the opposing players’ safety be considered, but that of everyone else who partakes in the frenzy.
Yes, it is a great when a team with no possibility of winning surprises students, along with the nation, but when fan reactions threaten or harm an opposing player, there is a problem.
It really hurts me to say this as a North Carolina Tar Heel fan, but I will come to the defense of Coach K. on this one. He is right this time, no matter how people look at it.
It is great to celebrate a victory, but players and fans need to wait until the opposing team has left the court.