Mike Krzyzewski is no stranger to fans storming the court, but he’s starting to become concerned that an incident may arise sooner than later due to these celebrations.
According to ESPN’s staff, the Duke Blue Devils head coach raised an issue with fans rushing the floor after his team fell to the Virginia Cavaliers on the road on Thursday night:
When we've lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court. Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first. Celebrate, have fun, obviously you won. That's cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on.
Krzyzewski went on to talk about how it would be extremely easy for a rowdy fan in a hostile environment to hit or push him or one of his players, leading to potential suspensions or a national news story.
Coach K isn’t trying to end the surge to the court after a huge win, though. Rather, he hopes to improve security measures for the members of the visiting team and help get them off the court before the wave of fans reaches the playing surface.
When the Cavaliers supporters hit the hardwood, it left the Blue Devils players and coaches scrambling to reach the visiting locker room before being engulfed in a sea of orange and navy blue.
Getting up close and personal with the youth of Charlottesville didn't improve Krzyzewski's mood much. According to a FOXSports report, the coach traded profanities with at least one fan and had to be restrained by a security guard.
Duke assistants Jeff Capel and Steve Wojciechowski and a few Duke players reportedly also traded profanities with fans.
Coach K brushed off the confrontation.
“We always get yelled at,” he said. “I’ve been called more things, about my mother or my kids; that’s something that’s happened for 25 years. That means nothing. Safety is something, and that’s what I’m talking about.”
This was the fourth loss for Duke during the 2012-13 campaign, and it was the fourth time the court was rushed. Virginia joins NC State, Miami and Maryland as teams that have defeated the Blue Devils at home this season.
While fans leaving their seats and joining the players in celebration on the court is a long-time college tradition, it’s becoming more dangerous to be wearing an away jersey in the middle of the frenzy.
In NC State's upset vs. Duke back in January, a fan in a wheelchair rushed the court with the students and had his chair knocked over and almost trampled by the storming mob. Star forward C.J. Leslie played hero, as he was able to grab the disabled fan before he was seriously injured.
Duke forward Mason Plumlee echoed Coach K's concerns about rowdy fans finding their way onto the floor after an upset win. Plumlee also said people were threatening him on Twitter before the game.
“People run up to you; we don’t know any of these. People are tweeting us telling us they’re going to hit us in the (groin),” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen; guys should be defensive. Half these people are drunk. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
“They should do a better job, and I’m sure they’ll look and realize that, but (if) they run at us, it’s fair game. We’re just protecting ourselves.”
Expect the NCAA to explore safety measures and punishments for court-storming now that Krzyzewski—one of the most respected voices in all of basketball—has lodged a complaint against the process.