Lucas: Coach K Is Right

By Adam Lucas | 15 Comment(s) | Posted

Mike Krzyzewski is right. We need to state that right at the beginning, because there's simply no doubt that he is absolutely, positively, one hundred percent correct.

Krzyzewski's Blue Devils lost at Virginia last night. As often happens when Duke loses, the fans stormed the court. This is a fairly regular occurrence when Duke (or Carolina) lose. In the postgame press conference, Krzyzewski took the opportunity to point out the potential dangers of letting students rush headlong onto the court:

"Whatever you're doing, you need to get the team off first," he said. "Look, celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that's cool. Just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on.

"Look do you know how close you are to, just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches. I'm not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, 'Coach you're a ... ' or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection."

He is absolutely correct. Anyone who has followed Duke or Carolina has been in venues where you can just tell they're not prepared for what's going to happen at the end of the game if the home team wins. It can be very dicey, and it's also very uncomfortable.

It's just doesn't look anything close to what happened last night. And I don't even have a problem with the reported behavior of Krzyzewski and his players after the game. Because if fans run onto the court and act like jerks to opposing players and coaches, they lose the right to cry that those same players and coaches were mean to them. It's not like we're talking about an assistant coach accosting a game official at halftime or something ludicrous like that. Because that would never happen. That makes about as much sense as someone having their nose broken and then having to listen to someone suggest that the nose-breaker is the "real victim."

But re-read the head coach's comments. I didn't see the celebration in question, but it sounds like pandemonium reigned in Charlottesville. I don't really expect to get the full story in the aftermath, because many national journalists who cover college basketball get their news straight from the Cameron coaches' offices--one in particular, who has made no secret of his disdain for Carolina's play this year, spent 15 minutes before the UNC-Duke game at Cameron chatting up Chris Collins.

Luckily, this event doesn't require interpretation, because there's actual video of the event in question, via the folks over at The Sabre, a Virginia-oriented sports site:

It does look like there's someone in that video who is a little out of control and is yelling at people. But that person isn't a Virginia student. In fact, the most striking thing about that video is just how calm the Virginia students are, like they're waiting in line to purchase new khakis at Vineyard Vines. Krzyzewski undoubtedly has been in potentially unsafe situations before. Carolina has, too. The worst of the Roy Williams era was at UNLV last year, when a woefully unprepared arena staff combined with a night tip-off in Las Vegas to create a dangerous situation that resulted in a female Carolina manager being pushed to the ground. 

But that was at a non-ACC venue, and an arena that is completely unaccustomed to hosting a basketball game of that magnitude. It's doubtful the Orleans Arena had gone through any sort of pregame drill to simulate a court-storming. They were too busy rehearsing the Elvis impersonator. But at more college hoops-friendly venues, it's reasonable to expect some measure of decorum and organization--which, it looks like from the above video, is exactly what Virginia was providing.

The irony here is that if we're truly concerned about fans touching players or coaches, there is one place in the Atlantic Coast Conference where fans are, without question, closer to the participants that anywhere else in the league: Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Take a look at this picture. People forward me that photo every year when the Tar Heels travel to Durham, because I'm in it. And their question is usually some variation of, "Is it really that bad?" The answer is this: yes. I remember when that picture was taken. I also remember that the fan behind me reached out and touched Harrison Barnes's jersey twice before Barnes inbounded the ball. 

I think we can all agree that anyone--Duke fan, Carolina fan, Virginia fan, etc.--shouldn't touch a player during the course of the game. That's part of the whole issue of player safety, right?

There's a simple fix to the problem at Cameron: move the students back a row. That front row of students that you see in that picture is standing on the floor. They should be back one row, standing on the first row of the bleachers, where they can't touch the participants. But somehow that would hamper their "creativity," apparently. Several years ago (we can easily ascertain that it was definitely not during the Hansbrough era, since he was 4-0 in Durham), Duke was about to clinch a win over Carolina at Cameron. One of the security personnel came to our position at media row and advised us to leave our seat. "If they want to go on the court, there's nothing we can do about it," he told us. "If you stay here, we can't help you."

I don't get it. Do only players and coaches "deserve that type of protection"?

Mike Krzyzewski has a great point about the basic human decency that should be afforded to everyone in college basketball. It shouldn't be too hard for him to find a place to start.

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  1. BFA's avatar
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    K's hypocrisy knows no bounds!
  2. Ash's avatar
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    Spot on analysis, per usual. Thanks Adam.
  3. Dave S's avatar
    Dave S
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    I believe that the shot clock should be set to 60 seconds at the conclusion of the game. If the home team fans are on the court before the 60 second buzzer sounds, then that school must pay a hefty penalty of some kind. The home team is responsible for the security of all. The opposing teams, fans and even those hideous reporters must be allowed a safe exit

    Or something similar.

    It is getting ridiculous with the court rushing.
  4. E Ball's avatar
    E Ball
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    Nice job, Adam; the only good article praising Coach K is one that also exposes him as a hypocrite!
  5. Adam Lucas's avatar
    Adam Lucas
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    I actually think Dave S's idea is a great one. Last night's "court rushing" in Charlottesville wasn't one of those spontaneous, there's-nothing-to-do-but-run-on-the-court deals. It was more of a, "We just won a big game and we're supposed to go on the court now" situation. In that scenario, there's no reason why they couldn't wait 60 seconds.

    Only faulty part of the idea is the part about saving the hideous writers. They should have to fend for themselves. Who cares about writers anyway?
  6. John Chambers's avatar
    John Chambers
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    Awesome as always Adam!
  7. Paul Gatling's avatar
    Paul Gatling
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    Virginia officials said Friday that the school's associate athletic director met with Duke at the shootaround Thursday.

    Per the Andy Katz story this afternoon:

    According to Virginia, the school told Duke that it would have a police officer greet the team bus and be with him throughout the game. The school said that Duke was informed of the protocol for court-rushing, saying there would be a safe zone created in front of the scorer's table/bench to help escort the team off the court.

    So how does that conversation go? “Coach if we beat your team, here’s what’s going to happen when our fans rush the court.” As if that’s just part of the ending to any college basketball game.

    To me the issue is not a safety issue. It's a game management issue. How on Earth have we gotten to the point where storming the court has become and expected and accepted part of a college basketball game? It's ridiculous!
  8. CltNC830's avatar
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    I don't condone any fan touching or accosting an opposing coach or player at any time, but we're treading a fine line here. If there's a last-second shot to win the game - or a last-second shot by the visiting team that misses - then there's not a lot anyone can do.
    But if there's a situation where the game is clearly won, afford the visiting team the opportunity to leave the court, concede if you will, and let security form some sort of cordon or escort.
  9. Tim Williams's avatar
    Tim Williams
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    ESPN reported Coach K exchanging F-Bombs w/a UVA sudent.
  10. Dan's avatar
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    The idea of anyone from Duke complaining about boorish or hazardous fan behavior is sort of like a napalm salesman complaining about people who play with matches.
  11. Mark's avatar
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    Typical Tarhole drivel. Roy would've run to the locker room before the game ended.
  12. Johnny's avatar
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    To Mark ---- so nice of you to come onto a pro-UNC board and post your drivel. Go back to PackPride or TDD. Adam...nice article.
  13. Trey Gone's avatar
    Trey Gone
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    Coach K, Disprove that you are a liar and a hypocrite: (1) Install a buffer zone between your "Cameron Crazies" and the field of play - which includes the sidelines where opponents' players stand to inbounds the ball.

    Have you ever attended a game in Cameron, btw?

    It is mind-boggling that someone that allows his own fans to routinely come into such close proximity with opposing players as to be able to
    easily contact them - see one of a million photos available - one provided here - would have the audacity to say:

    "Look, do you know how close you are to -- just put yourself in the
    position of one of our players or coaches," Krzyzewski said, according
    to the Raleigh News & Observer. "I'm not saying any fan did this, but the
    potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say,
    'Coach you're a [expletive],' or push you or hit you. And what do you do?
    What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that
    type of protection.

    "I'm always concerned about stuff like that, especially at this time of the
    year. What if that happened and we get a kid suspended? That becomes
    the national story. It's not all fun and games when people are rushing the
    court, especially for the team that lost. Again, congratulations to them,
    and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff. I'm all
    for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court.
    That's the bottom line."

    Have you EVER considered the potential for YOUR fans to do that in

    Either install a wall/fence/barricade between your fans and the court ...
    or better yet,

    The ACC Spring Meetings - which will consider the smokescreen you generated to divert attention from the ass-whupping your soft boys took ('they're not built for that type of physical play' ...OMG, that's rich) _ should Mandate that no team's student section be allowed within 8 feet
    of the field of play or inbounding areas?

    How do ya like that idea, 'Mr. Safety'?

    (2) Any students chanting inappropriate remarks should be ejected and prohibited from EVER attending another game on a student ticket. You
    know, stuff like your nice-clean-cut students chanting to an opposing player who recently had a grandma pass away, "How's your grandma?"
    or when Ricky Stokes (African-American athlete) played in Cameron,
    "Ralph lives on The Lawn, but Ricky mows it!" ... there's a million examples - and you've never addressed it once ... but now you're uber-
    concerned about an opposing teams' student saying something to offend your delicate Dookies, triggering a reaction?

    Gimme a break.

  14. mamalaterhoo's avatar
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    Here's what I videoed from Sect. 104 at the end of the UVA 73 - Duke 68 Basketball game:

    Looked orderly, well organized and very safe to all of the players and coaches to me; in fact, a stark contrast to Coach K's demeanor throughout the game. He appeared disheveled, distraught, and even deranged – at virtually every time out, he spent much more time complaining, whining, and pleading to the refs than coaching his own team. At one point, I thought he was going to get on his knees like a penitent and mercifully beg for a call to go his way. If I could have stormed the court instead of videoing the storm, I would have given the man an enema…May the basketball Gawds have mercy on his soles….
  15. WesCar's avatar
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    Coach K used the court storming talk as a diversion. He was afraid that the story would be his classless behavior and childlike temper tantrum over having to *gasp* wait 30 seconds to enter the locker room. What an epic douche.

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