When Oswego State defeated SUNY Plattsburgh on Saturday for the SUNYAC ice hockey championship, I imagined doing one thing as soon as the clock hit zero: storming the ice. I wouldn’t have, however, because of the amount of people and ushers near the benches and corner doors. Also, getting in trouble for a stunt like that as a freshman could have jeopardized my time at Oswego. In general, storming the ice would have been a bad idea because someone could fall over and get trampled. But what about storming the court for NCAA basketball games?
It is important to understand how a court storming works. It usually occurs when an unranked team defeats a top-ranked, usually in the top 10, team; the winning team has not defeated the opponent in some length of time such as ten years; or it is a rivalry game with a conference title on the line. There are other minor factors as well, but it seems that this year it is more common due to top teams losing constantly.
It seems for every two or three years where there is a consistency in the polls, there is one year, much like this year, where everything is chaotic and there is no dominant team. Last year, court storming was a rare site because of the dominance of Kentucky atop the polls and the rest of the top 10, but now it is a revolving door at the top.
Indiana was poised to have a dominant season until they lost to Butler University in December. The loss came at the hands of a last second shot and started a season of court storming.
Fast forward a few weeks later and the Duke Blue Devils are No. 1 in the polls. They played at North Carolina State and suffered a loss. As soon as the clock hit zero, fans rushed the court just like in years past, but this time there was an element of danger. Will Privette was one of those who stormed the court… in a wheelchair. He was shown on YouTube videos smiling, but there was a serious cause for concern after the first few seconds. He had fallen and had to be saved by N.C. State star C. J. Leslie. Everyone in the media was worried, but Privette was all smiles in the interviews that followed. Since the No. 1 team in the country was defeated, that court storming was deserved.
Move along to Feb. 28, where Duke was ranked in the top five when they traveled to the University of Virginia to play the Cavaliers. Again, Duke suffered a loss and Cavalier fans stormed the court—justifiable, because Virginia needed a signature win. Coach Mike Kerzyzewski, however, was upset that the fans had rushed the court. He mentioned that player safety was a concern and he is correct. In this particular instance, the staff set up a human wall to protect Duke personnel.
I think this quote by Coach Kerzyzewski says it all: “When we’ve lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court…”
Allow me to explain to Coach Kerzyzewski why that is the case. Duke is a polarizing school and has a polarizing fan base. You either love them or hate them. Another reason is that they are ranked in the top 10 for the majority of the year and lose more games on the road than at home. Final memo to Coach Kerzyzewski: if you do not want to get stormed on, then do not lose; it is that simple.
As for those who cite personal safety as an issue, move away from the action with about one minute left in the game if you do not want to get trampled by the students. Students know that they could get trampled, so do not play the ignorance card. Privette knew the consequences but still decided to storm with the help of an aide.
The reason people storm can be attributed to their “one shining moment” in a season full of despair. If Oswego State defeated SUNY Plattsburgh in men’s or women’s basketball for a chance to go to the NCAA’s after a magical season, would you storm the court? I would.