Sean Miller, the Arizona basketball coach, noted wryly on Tuesday’s Pac-12 teleconference that the Wildcats had lost two games this year (at Cal and Arizona State) and been the victim of four court-stormings. True story. In both instances, students flooded the floor with a fraction of a second on the clock, and after they were herded back off the floor, they returned in earnest when it was actually over.
Now comes a report by Andy Katz on ESPN that Arizona is leading a push for the Pac-12 to legislate against court-storming in the off-season. Katz said it wasn’t likely to include the SEC’s system of escalating fines when fans storm the floor, but perhaps something along the lines of a technical foul.
Two apparent problems with that, however. In most cases, storming comes at a “proper” time — as in, when the game’s over. And second, when I broached the question to Pac-12 media-relations director Dave Hirsch, about whether a conference can slap its own playing rule onto already existing NCAA rules, he e-mailed back that he didn’t believe it could.
Arizona wasn’t saying a whole lot about the report Tuesday. Athletic director Greg Byrne didn’t return my text message, and Miller was taciturn on the subject when asked, saying, “I’m sure our conference will take a long look at how to improve it, and will take the next step.”
It’s obvious the crazy end of the Arizona State-Arizona game Friday night was mishandled on a couple of fronts, not the least of which was the ASU students rushing the floor prematurely. After Jahii Carson got a breakaway dunk to push ASU ahead by three, they came onto the floor with a fraction of a second left. The Pac-12 acknowledged later that ASU should have been assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim, and there’s no question it should have. (I wonder whether officials were also thinking the game was over, and by the time they realized it wasn’t, it was too late to slap Carson with a T.)
“It really was a blur,” said ASU coach Herb Sendek. “You’re talking about a second or less than a second. It’s hard to process that. When Jahii scored, I thought the game was over. I think a lot of people did.”
Asked about the prospect of a change in court-storming policy, Cal coach Mike Montgomery said he doesn’t like the idea of fining schools but noted that if that led to tighter security, there might be an argument for it.
But Montgomery hinted that he likes the collegiate thing about court-storming — obviously only if it’s done safely — saying, “The spontaneity of it makes college basketball what it is.”
He added: “I guess that’s the price you pay for being No. 1.”