"When we've lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court," Krzyzewski said, as quoted by The Associated Press, insisting he was raising a concern but not trying to take away from Virginia's victory. "Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first. Celebrate, have fun, obviously you won. That's cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on."
Duke has lost four games this season, each on the road -- defeats at North Carolina State, at Miami and at Maryland preceded Thursday's loss. Fans stormed the court at every venue.
"Look, do you know how close you are to -- just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches," Krzyzewski said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. "I'm not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, 'Coach you're a [expletive],' or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.
"I'm always concerned about stuff like that, especially at this time of the year. What if that happened and we get a kid suspended? That becomes the national story. It's not all fun and games when people are rushing the court, especially for the team that lost. Again, congratulations to them, and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff. I'm all for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court. That's the bottom line."
DJ: I understand where Coach K is coming from considering the frequency in which his teams have been involved in these court stormings and the vitriol he faces on the road but I can’t get with him on this. In the past 20 years, has there been a single significant confrontation between a player and fan? It’s not like they’ve got to walk the length of a football field. It’s 80 feet to the locker room at the most. Virginia’s arena is uniquely setup because their away bench is on the opposite end of the court. Aside from the NCAA forcing teams to seat the away team’s bench nearest to their locker room, there isn’t much you can do. This is over protectionism run rampant. Am I being too flippant about this?
JAMES: No, I don’t think so. I can completely imagine some idiot talking trash to players after a game, but there aren’t examples of anything else he talked about. A lot of what if’s. Besides, the options are limited for preventing it. The SEC charges schools $5,000 for a first-time court storming offense, so they line the games with security guards after every game. If it ever really comes down to it, they are more likely to get hurt than stop a bunch of college kids.
By the way, have you seen SEC crowds at basketball games? Outside of Kentucky (or when teams are playing Kentucky), there aren’t too many arenas who pack the house regularly or have significant home-court advantage. The passion isn’t there. That’s not to say lined security guards are the reason for that -- it’s largely football -- but taking court storming away from basketball might reduce the excitement in general.
DJ: Rushing the court is part of the quintessential college experience. There’s a reason why the SEC is the only league in the last nine years to implement that policy. These fans are storming the court to celebrate with their teammates who are also their fellow classmates. One of the defining images of this season was NC State’s C.J. Leslie carrying wheelchair-bound Will Privette after he was knocked over rushing the court.
What do we legislate next? After returning the opening kickoff of the ‘06 national title game, Ted Ginn Jr. sprained his foot after a teammate sat on his leg while celebrating in the endzone. Should the NCAA eliminate dogpiles? If incidents such as Germain Fitch’s ACL tear (after a fan jumped on his back) were commonplace, they’d have a legitimate argument, but we can’t legislate rare acts of God. To his credit though, Coach K has been consistent about his stance on court storming. He won’t even allow Duke’s fans to make that mad dash to midcourt.
JAMES: There are probably measures the NCAA could take to provide some measure of player safety (they are there for the student-athletes, right?), like rope off an area where the players can shake hands and get off the court. But banning things doesn’t really work all that well amongst college kids, especially in a large, excited group. In Coach K’s world, this might be one of his only lose-lose situations. But a quick nod of respect for Coach K. He has built Duke up so high that storming the court would be beneath them anyway. Bosses don’t dance, they just pull up their pants.