Time to slam down all the court stormings

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 3/3/24

Steve Forbes, a Lone Tree High School alum, found himself in the middle of a college basketball controversy a week ago.

And it’s a shame.

Forbes is head coach of the men’s …

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Time to slam down all the court stormings


Steve Forbes, a Lone Tree High School alum, found himself in the middle of a college basketball controversy a week ago.

And it’s a shame.

Forbes is head coach of the men’s basketball team at Wake Forest University. It’s a big boy job in a big boy conference, the Atlantic Coast Conference, which has often been ruled by Duke and its legendary retired coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and North Carolina and its legendary coach, the late Dean Smith.

On Feb. 24, Wake Forest’s fans packed LJVM Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for the Demon Deacons’ game against eighth-ranked Duke. It was the largest crowd in the Forbes era. It was the first sellout home crowd since 2017.

And at the end of a huge 73-69 win over the Blue Devils, the place exploded with emotion.

It was expected.

When the game-ended horn sounded, Wake Forest’s fans, most of them students, stormed the court, creating a wave of danger for Duke’s players.

Remember when Ohio State’s fans did the same earlier this season after a women’s basketball game against Iowa? Caitlin Clark was run into by a fan and was nearly injured.

On this night, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, one of the best players in the ACC, was banged into and injured.

As Filipowski was helped away by a Duke staff member, he did so in a chaotic scene where there was no easy exit.

And it’s a shame.

For Forbes, one of the best wins of his college coaching career turned into a point-counterpoint discussion on ESPN and also online across the country.

What to do about this court storming?

What to do about keeping players safe?

Forbes took on those questions in a postgame news conference.

“I don’t like court stormings. Never have,” Forbes said. “I’ve been a part of those before. As a coach, you just don’t feel safe. And I’m sure the next time that happens, we’ll do a better job of taking care of that situation.”

The moment ruined what should have been a memorable night for the Deacs. They are the only ones in the ACC to win all of their home games this season. And beat Duke? In Winston-Salem, that is indeed a big moment.

“Everybody was treated to an unbelievable game played by two really good teams at a really high level today,” Forbes said. “It was the best atmosphere we’ve had since I’ve been here and probably in a long time. Credit to our fans and students for showing up and being loud.”

The intensity of such a game is difficult to even put words to.

As someone who has covered games at Duke and North Carolina and North Carolina State, this is what basketball-crazed fans in the Tar Heel state live for. At Duke, the student section is situated right behind press row and seemingly right on top of the court. They paint their bodies. They scream. They shout.

Outside of Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, there may not be a better college hoops atmosphere than Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium.

North Carolina’s Dean Dome is just as legendary.

Still, these venues should be safe.

College’s best players shouldn’t fear for their safety, mostly because the home school hasn’t taken necessary precautions.

Spectators? No, you don’t have a right to smack into an opposing player after the game and they don’t have a right to smack into you.

Let them go through the handshake line and get to their locker room.

And then celebrate.

Filipowski brought up memories of seeing the danger Clark ran into after the Hawkeyes’ loss at Ohio State.

“Just trying to get my way off the court,” he told The Associated Press, “and you know, you’ve got these crazy college students just doing whatever they want. It’s got to be a little more protective when things like that happen.”

“Kind of scary, could’ve caused a pretty serious injury to me,” Clark said of her close call.

Kansas Coach Bill Self was among those calling for changes.

“What happened the other day, watching it live, it could have been a lot worse,” Self told ESPN. “Filipowski didn’t appear to be prepared to brace himself for it.”

We are about to head into March Madness.

There are going to be huge wins, upsets and emotions. There will be court storms.

But can we at least make it safe?

No more banging into players. No more ruining a great win for the team you’re actually trying to celebrate.

Just go to jail. It’s called assault.

News columnist Paul Bowker can be reached at bowkerpaul1@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bowkerpaul

College basketball, court stormings, Steve Forbes, Wake Forest, Duke