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ASU coach Hurley is not a fan of court storming

Colorado fans celebrate after the team's NCAA college basketball game against Arizona on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Boulder, Colo. Colorado won 75-72. (AP Photo/Cliff Grassmick)
LISTEN: Bobby Hurley, ASU basketball coach

University of Arizona coach Sean Miller made national headlines Wednesday night when, following his team’s 75-72 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes, he talked about how the Pac-12 needs to abolish the practice of court storming.

It has happened following 10 of the Wildcats’ last 11 losses, and at best, it adds even more salt to an open wound.

At worst, a player or coach could conceivably get hurt, or, as Miller said, “Eventually what’s going to happen in the Pac-12 is this: An Arizona player is going to punch a fan, and they are going to punch the fan out of self-defense.”

That’s purely a hypothetical situation, of course, and you would hope Arizona’s players — or anyone’s, really — would not find themselves in a post-game situation where violence of any kind is necessary.

But perhaps even more worrisome of the threat of violence is that chance for someone getting injured, and that’s why Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley is against fans descending onto the court.

“When I was in high school, you talk about rivalries, we played a public school in New Jersey that was our arch-rival and we were undefeated and No. 1 in the country my junior year,” Hurley told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “I took a half-court shot for the win and missed and it was a tiny gym, packed beyond capacity — against the fire codes, I’m sure, and everything else — and the court was stormed and I found myself at the bottom of a pile.

“I got eight stitches in the back of my head.”

Hurley, who is in his first season with the Sun Devils, said society seems to be heading in a direction where a secure environment can be provided for everyone. Fans feel like they are a part of the game, though he noted sometimes the line can be crossed.

“We hope to try and avoid that,” he said. “So I’m in favor of trying to regulate that and getting the players safely off the court.”

It’s the type of issue that is not one until it becomes one, and there are instances where players have been injured due to the wave of fans who suddenly run onto the floor.

In 2004, Tucson High School’s Joe Kay, like Hurley, ended up at the bottom of a celebratory stampede. He suffered a torn carotid artery and a stroke, and his life has not been the same since.

While Hurley would have no problem if the concept of court storming was abolished, that’s not the only thing he would change.

“And, to take it one step further, I’d be in favor of eliminating the handshake line altogether for teams after a game because our athletes are competing against each other in a really high level and there are things that go on in a game,” he said. “And you’ve seen a couple of instances this year where teams are involved in a fight after the game.

“It’s a heated competition and we’re all for sportsmanship, but I just don’t see even the point of having that handshake line. That should be considered being removed, as well.”

Whether the Pac-12 will look to many any changes is anyone’s guess, and until it does, you can probably expect more of what happened Wednesday when a home team pulls off a big upset.

Hurley understands why the court gets rushed, though he believes the concept could, if not be totally abolished, undergo some tweaking.

“It’s fun, it’s great for the fans; they should feel elated after a great win,” he said. “But there could be a grace period of a minute or two just to safely get the players off the floor, especially from the opposing team, and then if the players from a particular school want to celebrate with their students and fans then that’s fine.”

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