BOULDER, COLO --
As the seconds ticked down towards a Colorado upset victory over No. 9 Arizona men’s basketball on Wednesday night, members of the Buffaloes’ student section, the C-Unit, lined along the baseline in preparation of a court storming.
And when Arizona guard Allonzo Trier missed a 3-pointer with five seconds to go, clinching a Colorado victory, members of the CU student section wasted little time hurrying onto the Coors Event Center court in jubilance.
Immediately following Arizona’s 75-72 loss to Colorado, UA players and coaches were guided through a herd of Colorado supporters towards the team locker room.
But from the vantage point of press row – which is located between the Colorado bench and the hallway leading to team locker rooms – fans were seen engaging with Arizona players and coaches.
As the two teams shook hands, Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski had to be held back from Colorado fans.
One fan, wearing a Denver Broncos sweatshirt, visibly yelled at and touched Arizona head coach Sean Miller and Wildcat players as the team entered the locker room hallway.
After the loss, Miller spoke ad nauseam about the need for better policing of court stormings, particularly in the Pac-12 Conference.
“Eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: an Arizona player is going to punch a fan,” Miller said. “And they’re going to punch the fan out of self-defense.”
Miller continued, “When it happens, only when it happens, will everybody take a deep breath and say, we have to do something to protect both teams so that when the game ends, that we have a deep breath to be able to leave the gym. Or at least shake the other team’s hand, and then get to our locker room.”
The head coach also lamented the fact that he has brought this issue up to the league, but it has fallen on “deaf ears” because Arizona is the only program that continually faces court stormings following defeats.
“Three consecutive years, anytime we lose a game on the road, it’s the same,” Miller said. “Some are more under control, some aren’t. If more teams had the court stormed on them, I wouldn’t be the only guy who is bringing it up.”
On Wednesday night, Arizona found itself in the perfect storm: a sold-out Coors Events Center crowd of 11,309, the third-largest crowd in the building’s history.
Given the surroundings of the game – Colorado needed a win over a ranked program like Arizona to solidify its NCAA Tournament chances – and the fact that Arizona is perceived as a nascent rival to the Buffaloes, the chances for a court storming were high.
However, Miller’s address focused less on the issue of court storming itself and more on the protections – or lack thereof – in place to help Arizona players get to the locker room safely.
“I don’t know what other conferences are doing, but if there is a fine, I’m pretty sure that there wouldn’t be people just storming over the bench within five seconds of a victory,” Miller said. “It’s tough because not everybody is going through it, and because of that nobody really cares except me. From this point forward, I care. And we’re almost at a point where our guys have to protect themselves.”
When told by a reporter that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was in attendance on Wednesday, Miller responded, “He doesn’t care.”
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