This is a guest post by SM, a current student at Providence College, and proprietor of the blog “The Truth About PC Basketball”. With all the hoopla about the court storm from beating UConn, I asked him for his thoughts on the topic.
In the wake of last night’s epic victory over rival UConn, voices from all over the sports world are criticizing the PC student sections’ decision to have a meeting at halfcourt. For example, this article, written by some guy I’ve never heard of named Jim Donaldson, points to the epidemic of court storming as the ultimate downfall of college basketball and possibly the direct cause of the earthquake in Haiti. Now, I could make a joke here about how the ProJo has fallen so far that PC won’t even give it away for free anymore, and that a 2-bit writer for their dying newspaper has roughly the same readership as my blog does, but that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I’ve been asked by FB as a member of the student section and a veteran of four court stormings to construct a defense of our actions last night.
The first thing I’d like to point out is that everyone seems to be constructing their argument against the court-storm on the foundational statement that UConn isn’t good enough of a team to warrant it. They are ranked 19th currently, and without a doubt, that ranking would have at least stayed the same or gone up had we not done our part to stop it. In the preseason, the same UConn team was ranked #12, and they have hovered around that figure ever since, except for the one week where they dropped from the rankings. Note that these rankings are coming from the AP poll, which is constructed using votes from a lot of the same sportswriters who love to get on their high horse about court storming (note: this does not include Jim Donaldson, who presumably isn’t important enough to vote for Division III rankings). In this, there arises a problem for the sports writer. They can’t argue against rushing the court without at least implying that the losing team is overrated. But in saying the loser is overrated, they make themselves look dumb for voting for that team in the first place. The only occasion where this doesn’t hold up is when a group of fans storms the court against a team they are supposed to beat, but I won’t go there because this post is not about how much URI sucks.
For those of the dissenters who don’t have a vote, all this crying that UConn secretly sucks still has little validity. Stanley Robinson, Jerome Dyson, and Kemba Walker are all proven good players. They don’t just magically lose their game overnight, because unfortunately, real life is not like Space Jam. They’ve hit a rough patch of late, but let’s keep in mind the fact that they beat #1 Texas last week and no one really thought it was that big of a deal. As much as I hate to say it, they are still a good team, and they still have absolutely no business losing to a young team with defensive issues and a lack of size, i.e. Providence.
Let’s look at this from PC’s perspective. UConn is our biggest rival. You can argue for URI, but they are not in the Big East and never will be. They also don’t have the track record of UConn. They’re obnoxious, but at the end of the day, they’re essentially harmless. UConn is the school with arguably the most arrogant fan base in the Big East, a fan base that insists upon looking down on us and running their mouths off. About 200 of these insufferable idiots invade the Dunk every year, which raises an already emotional atmosphere to a fever pitch. Make no mistake, the UConn game is one that every Friar fan circles on their calendar every year. When there is that much hatred in play, the underdog’s fans want to do whatever they can to show up the other team’s fans. As embarrassing as guys like Donaldson would have you believe this was for PC, it was that much worse for the UConn fans in attendance, trust me.
The way I see it, the benefits of a court storming like this are going to outweigh the drawbacks. The only real drawback is that sportswriters are going to claim it reveals a fan base that didn’t believe a win was possible. They’ll go on at length about how storming the court implies the fact that the win was a total shock and betrays an underlying lack of confidence in the team to the world. My question here is, who actually thinks this when they see fans storming the court? Players usually openly participate, so it’s not like they lose confidence in themselves when they see it. The fans obviously aren’t thinking this way when they’re trampling each other just to give some walk-on a high five. The only people who actually come up with this logic are the sportswriters who are more often than not just windbags who like to hear themselves talk, and the opposing fans, who are going to find something to whine about either way. On the other hand, you have the advantages of introducing a whole new set of fans to the time-honored tradition of rushing the court, which refreshes fan interest in the team. This causes a jump in crowd enthusiasm, which has always made the Friars a better team. Additionally, a good court storming always seems to act as a cathartic purging of emotions, both positive and negative, about the team. Was anyone talking about the USF debacle or Marquette dismantling this morning? Didn’t think so. This takes pressure off the team, which generally will make them play even better. Especially at a small program fighting for wins in a big-time conference, a big win followed by a court storming can help to refresh the program and keep interest up in the team.
I truly believe our actions on the floor last night were perfectly acceptable, if not beneficial for the team and the fan base. Like it or not, UConn is a good team to begin with, and the rivalry implications only amplified the emotions in the building. All of the naysayers out there can write whatever they want, but as we’ve proven over the last few seasons, we’re going to keep doing what we do. After all, like I said last night, we’re college students. Being obnoxious and destructive and having fun doing it is what we do best.