FanHouse Roundtable: When Is Rushing the Court Appropriate?
The Duke-Clemson game on Wednesday had some of the writers over at FanHouse a little peeved. Was it right for Clemson to rush the court after beating a foe that it hasn't topped in 22 meetings? It had been a long time since Clemson stood a chance against the Blue Devils, but the Tigers are currently ranked No. 10 in the nation. We tossed the question out to our college basketball "experts" and here is what transpired.
Shane Bacon: Storming the court has become so regular these days that you nearly expect to see it three or four times a week. Team beats team, students get excited, students rush the court.
I think that a few rules should apply when deciding if this was the perfect opportunity to find yourself on the hardwood.
One, you can't be ranked. If you are ranked, you are obviously a respectable basketball team, and there is no reason you should be running out there like you just took down the '76 Hoosiers.
Also, if you have won an NCAA Tournament in the last 20 years, then you stay in the stands. I went to Arizona. We were horrible the entire time I was there (sans the Salim Stoudamire-Channing Frye year, which ended horribly thanks to Deron Williams). But there was no chance that the fans in Tucson were ever thinking of storming the court, mainly because we had a sort of tradition down there. You've won in the last two decades, clap, cheer and then file out accordingly.
You can rush the floor if your team is unranked and beat a top-five team. Or a conference foe that has been the drunken stepfather to you over the years, and you are unranked. Or, if you just beat Duke. And last, if you are unranked and hit a last-second shot against a more formidable opponent.
Matt Snyder: I'm gonna be a lot more lenient than other people, because I'm all about college kids having their fun. I don't think the "act like you've been there before" mantra necessarily always works. I mean, I went to Indiana, and when we stormed the floor with a win over Michigan State in 2001, it was definitely worthy. Are we saying the MSU program is better traditionally than Indiana? Of course not, but it was for the four years I was at Indiana. That's just an example of why I think I'm usually going to give the students the benefit of the doubt.
On the other hand, I'm much more against the "overrated" chant. Therein lies the implication that your team is only winning because the other team isn't that good ... not that your team is better.
Storming the floor, in my view, is a different animal. It's just a celebratory spill-over from the stands. Everything collegiate students do is in excess, so why should their basketball victory celebrations be any different?
Will Brinson: Because when you start letting people storm the court all willy-nilly over the place, with no sort of societal regulations in place, then you end up with a bunch of people like Clemson's fans, who forced a storm simply because their team has been so bad for so long, even though they were beating Duke by 20-plus for nearly 10 minutes.
I realize that it's kind of nice that their enthusiasm didn't die, but it's also kind of depressing that they couldn't remember they were the 10th-ranked team in the nation; they don't have to "act like they've been there" (they haven't) but at the same time, you have to man up and just enjoy the win for what it is: the spanking of a top-five national team by another very good team.
Chas Rich: I'm a little more lenient on storming the court. But here are the absolutes:
If you have at least 20 years of history of top-25-to-elite performance (i.e., winning a national championship and regular runs in the NCAA Tournament), you don't rush the court -- ever. This would exclude: Arizona, UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan State, Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Georgetown, UConn, Villanova and such. There is just no excuse, no matter how big the win. It won't give you a national championship, and with conference tournaments, even winning the regular season title becomes minimized. You just can't do it. You've been there, and even a buzzer-beater isn't enough.
Blowout wins, almost always should not have a court storming. I'm kind of forgiving to Clemson for last night because it was beating Duke. You look at the absolute stomach-punch manner in which the fans have seen the Tigers blow wins at home against UNC and Duke for the last couple years, coupled with being those teams' b*****s forever and, well, I kind of understand.
Buzzer-beaters in big emotional wins tend to change much discussion. It is hard to resist the impulse, when it comes in the last seconds -- especially if the team itself runs out on the court. Seeing the players and coaches go nuts on the court has an effect.
Snyder: I still think we're discounting the notion of who these students are when considering history. Many of them weren't even fans of the team until they attended the school. Do you really expect a group of 100 18-year-old fans in 2009 to care that Georgetown won a national championship in the 1980s?
Shiloh Carder: Being one of the old farts on here ....
In 1994, UNC-Charlotte (which I was attending) won a big Metro Conference game against Louisville. The fans stormed the court on that day. I missed it because I went to a Hornets game that night. One of the big regrets of my sporting life. In the history of sport, it is as meaningless as anything could possibly be. Still, it was a memory that I would have liked to have had.
Now, UNCC had a Final Four appearance back in 1977 ... when I was turning two. So using the 20-year rule seems silly to me. Like Snyder said, many of these students don't have that sense of history of whether they should or should not storm the court. When I was at UNCC, that Final Four appearance may as well have happened in the 1800s. All I knew is that their small forward was in my Psychology class and that I went to junior and senior high with the shooting guard. We just beat Louisville (which was bigger since we had just bolted the Sun Belt Conference for the "big time" Metro).
Again, I'm not thrilled with fans/students storming the court because it, to me, gives the other team that belief that they should never lose to our podunk school. Still, far be it for me to tell those kids they can't celebrate like that in their small window of opportunity.
Adam Papagiorgio: I strongly believe that storming the court belongs to the mid-majors. The schools that don't get BCS money. The schools from conferences that don't get eight teams in the tournament every year.
Saying that fans from a BCS conference "deserve" to rush the floor is like saying that one of the rich fraternity kids at your school "deserves" a new Mercedes.
It's out of place. What's Clemson's athletic budget compared to Cal State Northridge? Or Loyola Marymount?
Snyder: So Northwestern, who has never, ever made the NCAA tournament, beats a number-one team in the nation at home. Their students aren't allowed to storm the floor? But Butler and Gonzaga fans can?
Papagiorgio: Butler and Gonzaga are Top-25 teams. Which bans them from court storming.
Northwestern makes plenty of money. Don't they benefit from having a second, undeserving team in the BCS bowls this year? Doesn't their conference have a better television conference than the Big West and WAC? Aren't there going to be, like, 10 teams from the Big Ten going to the tournament? Northwestern's problems are their own.
If Stanford can build a winner, then Northwestern can, too.
Snyder: I agree, the problems of the athletic department are their own.
But, again, my problem goes back to blaming the student-fans for showing excitement. It's not their fault the program is awful. If it garners a huge win, why aren't they allowed to be excited?
Papagiorgio: Be excited. Feel free to scream your heads off from the stands.
If you want to rush the court, go to Illinois State.
Well, that is all. If you stayed with us this long, drop your rules/concerns about rushing the court at a college basketball game. What are your rules?