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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona doesn’t endorse court storming

An+ASU+fan+revels+in+the+team%26%238217%3Bs+surprising+81-78+win+against+Arizona+in+Wells+Fargo+Arena+in+Tempe+on+Feb.+7.+With+the+recent+court+storming+at+Kansas+State+in+which+coach+Bill+Self+was+pinned+against+the+scorers+table%2C+Arizona+men%26%238217%3Bs+basketball+head+coach+Sean+Miller+said+he+does+not+endorse+storming+the+court.
Rebecca Noble

An ASU fan revels in the team’s surprising 81-78 win against Arizona in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe on Feb. 7. With the recent court storming at Kansas State in which coach Bill Self was pinned against the scorers table, Arizona men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller said he does not endorse storming the court.

As storming the court after men’s college basketball games has become a national talking point, it’s particularly significant for Arizona, where opposing fans sometimes invade the court more than once.

On Tuesday, Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller and Wildcat players criticized the national trend of fans storming the basketball court after big wins.

All three of Arizona’s losses have come on the road, with fans rushing the playing surface each time. Last season, at California and ASU, fans even stormed the court twice — before the games ended and after.

“If you think about it, there’s only one thing that can happen — and that’s bad,” Miller said. “What’s the good, that they storm the court? I can name a lot of bad.”

After Kansas State upset No. 8 Kansas on Monday night, KSU fans stormed the court, attacking players and pinning some participants in the game, such as KU head coach Bill Self, against the scorers table. 

“If you penalize a program $100,000 for a court storming,” Miller said, “I bet you [Monday] night Bill Self wouldn’t have gotten jammed into the scorers table like he did.”

Fans and players brawled at a Utah Valley and New Mexico State game last year.

Some members of the national media are questioning whether court storming needs to stop.

Last season, Arizona tried to convince the Pac-12 Conference to punish schools when their fans stormed the court. The SEC fines schools when their fans enter the court after games.

“I would say that every time we get stormed on, I was in a good hiding place; I was out of the way of the crowd nonsense,” Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. “It can get a little hectic. Somebody could bump you or try to run you over.”

Court storming has trended to the point where California fans even stormed the court after the Golden Bears beat last-place USC.

Current fads among the selfie generation could also cause problems, Hollis-Jefferson said.

“I know players hate when the students try to put their phone in the face and all that,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “That’s kind of disrespectful, and I can see where someone would get upset and smack the phone out of someone’s hand.”

Forward Brandon Ashley said the Wildcats don’t prepare to lose, so they don’t practice what to do when the court gets stormed and that it requires quick reactions.

“We never prepare to lose a game,” Ashley said. “So, when the situation comes, people are storming the court, the thing that you’re thinking most of is, ‘How can I get myself out of this situation without anybody being harmed or anything like that?’”

The issue of court storming is particularly sensitive in Tucson. Joe Kay, a Tucson High Magnet School basketball star, was paralyzed when fans invaded the court in 2004.

“I know it’s a one-in-a-million thing that somebody would be seriously injured or die,” Kay said to ESPN. “Granted, I was small potatoes — a high school player in Tucson — but it seems nothing was learned.”

Ashley said Colorado’s setup, where the Wildcats play on Thursday, is the toughest place to be when the court is stormed.

“In all honesty, in my whole entire college career,” Ashley said, “I’d probably say … my freshman year at Colorado was probably the worst, because of the fact that we were on the far side, and we had to walk all the way across the court through the crowd to get to the locker room.”

The last time Arizona fans stormed the court is believed to be Jan. 19, 2002, when the Wildcats rallied from a 20-point deficit to beat No. 9 UCLA at McKale.

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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