North Carolina’s 90-57 loss to Florida State was an embarrassing and humbling experience for Roy Williams’ team.
But when he took his entire team — except for five walk-ons – off the court in the final seconds, it wasn’t to avoid further embarrassment. It was a cautionary move. Williams figured the crowd would be ready to rush the court to celebrate a win against the nation’s No. 5 team.
And he was right. The crowd came, and came in a hurry.
“Let’s make sure that we understand that I was not trying to embarrass Florida State by pretending that they could not control the crowd,” Williams told the Raleigh News & Observer. “That’s not what I was trying to do at all. I was just trying to protect our team. We had an ugly incident at Las Vegas and one of our female managers got knocked down.”
Can’t say I disagree with Williams there. Court rushes rarely leave anyone unscathed and occasionally turn ugly for the players. Tough to avoid when you have thousands of people swarming the floor. They’re awesome and a part of college hoops. But they can be bad.
Besides, FSU coach Leonard Hamilton agreed with Williams that leaving would be a good idea.
“I want to be clear to one thing: I wanted very much for Roy to take his team off the floor, so that they wouldn’t get caught up in the excitement and jubilance of fans,’’ Hamilton told Robbi Pickeral. “It wasn’t a negative on his part, or anything disrespectful. As a matter of fact, I suggested he do that. Because it’s college basketball, and the students and fans get excited … I just thought it would be in the best interest for all of us, with 15 seconds to go and us up like we were … I didn’t see anything wrong with that.”
Fair enough. If the Heels couldn’t handle anything the Seminoles did Saturday, why would the crowd be any different?
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