COLUMN: Rushing the court losing its luster

Take a moment to clear your mind. Ready? If you are, then picture this in your head.

The venue is the Edmund P. Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind., and the Notre Dame and Louisville men’s basketball teams are in the closing minutes of a fifth-overtime period.

The Fighting Irish hold a slim 103-101 lead with 10 seconds left as sophomore guard Pat Connaughton steps to the free-throw line.

Suddenly, an arena that has been deafening for nearly three hours is silent as Connaughton’s first free-throw rims out. A collective groan encompasses the sold-out arena as he steps up for his second free-throw.

This one is nothing but net, and the score is now 104-101. The crowd rises up and resumes its raucous roar. Louisville junior guard Russ Smith takes the inbound pass and races across the 30-foot clover at center court. He hoists up a desperation three-point shot with just five seconds left, only to helplessly watch it rim out and rebounded by the Irish.

In an instant, hundreds of euphoric Notre Dame students spill onto the Joyce Center court in celebration of their beloved Irish’s marathon win.

This is a scene that has played out in gymnasiums around the country no less, but probably more than, 26 times in the last month. And I’m going to be the party pooper here and say enough is enough.

Ever heard the saying, “Too much of anything is a bad thing?" How about, “Act like you’ve done it before?”

I’ve heard both many times, and both without a doubt apply to the seemingly proverbial “Rushing of the court” that is running rampant across the college basketball landscape.

Now, I know it seems like I’m being Johnny Stormcloud here, and I guess I kind of am. But, truthfully, I like a good party just as much as the next guy. I’m just a firm believer that parties like rushing the court should be reserved for monumental wins.

It’s hard to blame the Notre Dame students for rushing the court after a five-overtime victory, but, in reality, their team was ranked 25th in country and beat a conference rival ranked 11th. Since when has that become grounds for rushing the court?

Those types of celebrations are reserved for special situations, like TCU’s men’s basketball team, which hadn’t won a Big 12 game in its history before knocking off the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks on Feb 6.

Or last season, when an unranked Indiana team knocked off the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats on a last-second shot by Christian Watford at Assembly Hall; a win that essentially served as the revival of the Hoosiers in college basketball.

This season, rushing the court is occurring every time a ranked team loses. When you do something that often, it loses its luster.

I don’t blame the students — after all, I am one — and if CMU knocked off a top-ranked opponent at McGuirk, I might be compelled to rush the court with the other students in attendance.

I mean, who doesn’t want to be on one of those SportsCenter montages following an epic game that always ends with a wide shot of students rushing the court?

That being said, the fact remains that if you want something to be special, you can’t do it all the time. Don't forget how dangerous it can be for the players and coaches on the court.

When students rushed the court following a ranked North Carolina State team’s victory over then top-ranked Duke on Jan. 12, N.C. State student Will Privette, who uses a wheelchair, was among the ecstatic Wolfpack that stormed the floor in the chaos of celebration.

He was knocked from his wheelchair and would have been trampled if it wasn’t for N.C. State senior guard C.J. Leslie, who noticed Pirvette on the ground and helped him to his feet.

This is an isolated event, but the question remains, why is N.C. State even rushing the court when its ranked team defeated another ranked, in-state conference rival? Don’t you view yourselves as equals? I understand the excitement, but come on people, act like you’ve done it before.

People get caught up in the moment of victory, and it’s hard to blame someone for being passionate, but fans belong in the stands. Let’s save the court-storming celebrations for the special moments, not wins over ranked conference opponents in January and February

After all, no one really wins anything until March.


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