There has been much debate over fans rushing the court following Michigan’s win over UConn on Sunday, and I will admit, I was on the no rush side of the argument. One of the things discussed hours before the game by a few of us that were lined up outside of Crisler was if the crowd would rush the court if we won. Even beforehand I assumed we would given the circumstances, but my reasoning for being on the no rush bandwagon was mainly that a win would likely knock UConn out of the top 25, making them an opponent not worthy of storming the court for. (By the way, UConn did drop out of the AP Poll, but they’re still somehow ranked 21st in the USA Today Poll.) Yes, UConn is a big-name program, but I would rather save rushing of the court for wins over top 5 teams like Duke (i.e. last year) or perhaps a top-10 rival in Michigan State (i.e. hopefully next week). That said, I figured we would rush the court because of a variety of reasons.
1. As mentioned, UConn is a big-name program. Although they have been struggling lately, the Huskies went to the Final Four last year and were the marquee game on this season’s home schedule. Michigan State is obviously a huge game as well, but the UConn game was equivalent to the Duke game last season — a non-conference matchup against one of the biggest basketball schools in the nation.
2. Around 2,000 or so of this year’s season-ticket holders weren’t around for the Duke game last season and didn’t get to experience the feeling of such a big win and the celebration that occurred afterward. That was really the biggest reason I assumed the crowd would storm the court if Michigan beat UConn. Once it became clear the game was in hand, I really started thinking about it and understood the thinking behind storming the court in that sense. The majority of the students in attendance didn’t get a chance to do it against Duke, and this was the biggest win they got to see in person.
(What was really evidence of the difference between the new season-ticket holders and the ones that have been around for at least last year or longer was that quite a few people in the first few rows of the middle of the Maize Rage (e.g. the “core of the Maize Rage”) did not rush the court. Not to slight the rest of the student section, but I think it would be accurate to characterize them as the hardest of the hardcore fans, who likely realized that beating UConn wasn’t necessarily worthy of rushing the court.)
3. For freshmen or students who are new season-ticket holders for basketball, this was one of the few really positive sports moments they’ve seen at Michigan. For freshman especially, not a lot has gone well sports-wise at Michigan for them outside of September, so I can see how this was viewed as a moment worthy of rushing the court. I mean, the football team stunk the last two months of the season, hockey has had a down year, and the basketball team has gotten off to a disappointing start. Beating UConn for them and hell, for everyone, was a moment where you look back and say something to the effect of, “about damn time something went right.”
4. The atmosphere of the game was so through the roof that rushing the court did feel like an appropriate celebration. It was very similar to the atmosphere of the Duke game, although with so many more students, I’d say it was probably even louder than when the Blue Devils came to Crisler Arena. Either way, the entire crowd brought it strong, and you could feel how important of a game this was just by listening to the fans. For most, rushing the court was simply the appropriate way to cap off the win. (As an added bonus, I’m sure the recruits enjoyed being able to rush the court, just like last year against Duke.)
What I will say is that I’m glad Michigan won and we have the opportunity to debate this. Debating over things like this only happens when Michigan is winning, so it’s definitely welcomed, and I wish it would happen more often if it meant Michigan is winning more often as well.
Basically for me it wasn’t that I had a problem with people storming the court or anything like that, I just wasn’t for it. Although announcer Verne Lundquist’s reaction came off as a “hey kids, get off my lawn” type of tone, I was with him in simply saying “whatever” to it. I wasn’t for it, but whatever, it’s not a big deal.
(On a side note, it was interesting to listen to Gus Johnson’s reaction to Indiana fans rushing the court after they beat Minnesota in a close game on Sunday night. Personally I was against that far more than Michigan fans storming the court after a win against UConn, but then again, Indiana fans haven’t had a lot to celebrate lately with their basketball program. Either way, Gus Johnson’s reaction, which was the complete opposite of Verne Lundquist’s feelings on the matter, was that “this is what college sports are all about.” He couldn’t be any more accurate. At the end of the day, storming the court was about fans celebrating a win and having fun, which truly is what college sports are all about.)