"You need to get your team off first," Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after his team endured its fourth court storming of the season after a loss at Virginia.
Opposing fans have stormed the court against the Blue Devils in all four of their losses this season: at Maryland, NC State, Miami and Virginia. Since the incident, NCAA analysts and coaches have been weighing in on the issue, some arguing that it is part of the tradition of college basketball, while others fear for the safety of the players and fans and view it as an unnecessary showcase of celebration.
"Look, celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that's cool. Just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on," Krzyzewski said, according to a newsobserver.com article.
The Blue Devils coach encountered a fan after the game and proceeded to shout an obscene gesture while he and his team struggled to make it back to their locker room after the game. The fan was later dragged away by police, but not before the coach stated his piece. These sorts of actions, along with concerns for safety, have caused the South Eastern Conference (SEC) to ban court storming all together.
Court storming has long been a memorable part of college basketball and is viewed as a time-honored tradition of the sport. ESPN's NCAA men's basketball analyst Digger Phelps addressed the issue by referencing it as something that "students will remember at their 20-year reunion," according to ESPN.com. The feeling of school pride and representing one's school by celebrating with student-athletes on the floor has made addressing the issue a tough task for the NCAA.
Coaches are calling for better security measures at games in order to prevent one of their players from getting trampled or injured when thousands of students pour onto the court after an exciting victory. The problem is, though, that no matter how many security guards are present on the sidelines, fans will always outnumber them. Schools and coaches have even gone so far as to warn each other of a possible court storming incident, especially during rivalry games or tightly contested conference battles.
Court storming is an issue in college basketball that will be debated for some time, with no sanctions or rulings coming down from the NCAA projected in the near future. For some, it is about celebrating with peers and student-athletes, but others see it as harmful for everyone involved. Players, coaches and fans all want court storming to be a fun and harmless process if it is going to be a part of college basketball, but ensuring that safety is a nearly impossible task.