While we were watching the Hoosiers get a much-needed and exciting victory in Assembly Hall Thursday night, an ugly scene was transpiring at Utah Valley University, a school in Orem, Utah, that plays in the WAC. UVU had just beaten New Mexico State, 66-61. With NMSU being one of the top teams in a new-look WAC conference that has lost many of its former schools to Mountain West, this was an important victory for UVU, and fans rushed the court to celebrate. However, a fight occurred during the court storming, as seen in this video, which it has been discussed much more than the game itself. As you can see, an NMSU player seemingly provoked the incident, when he threw a basketball at a UVU player, so the athletes too are not without blame in this situation.
I bring this incident up not only because it's a sad display of a tradition that I usually enjoy, but also because Assembly Hall has been the site of two prominent court storms over the past three years. The first was after the Watford shot against Kentucky (as seen in the photo), and the second was earlier this season, after a hard-fought victory over then third-ranked Wisconsin. These stormings ruffled the feathers of some media members and IU fans, because Indiana is normally a team for which opponents will storm the court after getting a big win against. However, why can't students be allowed to enjoy and get wrapped up in the moments? I even have a poster in my room of Hoosier fans rushing onto the court after the UK victory.
Three general schools of thought about court storming tend to exist:
1) "It should never happen. Anytime. Anywhere. Period. There's a serious injury risk involved and the athletes could get hurt." This is the Coach K attitude. I call these folks the Fun Police.
2) "There are specific RULES for WHEN and WHERE you may storm the court! Only against rivals and teams ranked in the top 10! And fans of blue blood programs like Indiana should NEVER rush the court, under ANY circumstance!" These people are the Seth Greenbergs and Rick Reillys of the world, and they seem to spend too much time making up these rules.
3) "Court storming is fun, and as long as there are no bad intentions, let 18-22 year-old college kids enjoy themselves and celebrate a big victory." I tend to fall into this general stance.
I wholeheartedly agree that what happened in Utah was a disgrace, and the fans and players involved in the incident should be punished. And already, the SEC bans court storming during games involving its teams. However, should one incident out in Utah encourage the NCAA to stop all court storming from now on? I really don't think it should. Fans normally want to celebrate with their teammates, and congratulate them on a hard-fought victory, especially over a rival or a ranked opponent.
I think the more important thing to take from this, along with the Marcus Smart incident from a few weeks ago, is that fans cannot be stupid if they're going to run onto a court. Fans, don't make the game about yourself. At the same time, players need to also not act foolish. I know players can get emotional after a rough loss, but chucking a basketball at an opposing player is just going to lead to bad things.
I'm curious to hear what other Hoosiers think about storming the court, in light of Thursday's incident and the recent storms at Assembly Hall. Do you think the NCAA should ban it altogether? Are you okay with it, just not at places like Assembly Hall? Or are you cool with it after any victory? Let me know your thoughts.