No. 9 Arizona lost at Colorado on Wednesday night, and as they tend to do, Colorado fans stormed the floor within seconds of the final buzzer sounding.
It’s not the first time it’s happened to Arizona. It’s actually become pretty typical of a road loss for the Wildcats, which says something about the state of the program.
But it’s also a massive risk, one that came close to boiling over last time. As Arizona was walking off the floor was walking off the floor after the game, their players got caught up in the mass of humanity heading for the center of the court. In particular, in the video below, you can see center Kaleb Tarczewski get bumped and react. You can also see on head coach Sean Miller’s face how he feels about it:
I’m not anti-court storm in general, but I am anti-court storm given the way that it currently happens. I’ve made this argument many times over, but having rival fans — fans that are, more than likely, drunk college kids — on the floor at the same time as players that just took a bad loss is asking for trouble.
I’ll let him drop the knowledge here today. (Transcriptions are via The Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe).
“Eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan,” Miller said. “And they’re going to punch the fan out of self-defense. And when it happens, only when it happens, will everybody say `We have to do something so that when the game ends we have a deep breath to be able to leave the court. Or at least shake the other team’s hand and then get to our locker room.'”
“And then if the court wants to be stormed, fine. But until that happens, it’s fallen on deaf ears because there’s only one team right now that the court’s stormed on and for three consecutive years anytime we lose a game on the road it’s the same. Some are more under control, some aren’t. But if 7-foot, 250–pound Kaleb Tarzcewski gets bumped literally three seconds after the game ends and he retaliates, what would be the response of our conference? What would be the response? If more teams were having the court stormed on them, I wouldn’t be the only guy who’s bringing it up.”
“There’s no sport—football, any sport in the country, professional, major league, whatever, where this happens to the level it happens. And what I mean is it’s literally within five seconds you have a mad rush on the court before our players can even leave the court.”
This is what I’ve been saying for years now.
Something is eventually going to happen on a stage bigger than the WAC; remember when New Mexico State players fought Utah Valley fans? Because I do:
Imagine if that game was being played on ESPN. Imagine if last night, on national television, Tarczewski reacted by punching one of the kids that ran into him. If he’s in the middle of a mob of 20 of that kid’s frat brothers, how do you think that turns out? Tarczewski and his teammates get crucified in the media after they brawl it out with Colorado’s student section?
It’s going to happen one of these days.
“I’m going to be fine,” Miller added. “Somebody can say whatever they want to me — spit, do whatever you want — but I’m worried about the players who are under my direction. If we lose fine, let us get off the court, at least have some substance and control so that our guys aren’t in a situation where a lawsuit could come because when that comes, then and only then, will everybody pay attention.”
“But it’s falling on deaf ears right now. I don’t know what other conferences are doing but if there is a fine, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be people just storming over the bench within five seconds of the victory.”