Thursday's Cy-Hawk men's basketball game was one of the best ever, at least according to Iowa State fans.
The dramatic ending will go down in history not only as one of the best of the rivalry, but as one of the best of the 2015-2016 college basketball season.
The Cyclones, who have been ranked in the top 10 nationally all year, fell behind by 20 points to in-state rival Iowa before storming back in the second half to make it a game.
After Monte Morris hit his game-winning shot, Hilton Coliseum erupted. The Cyclones won and celebration ensued.
The celebration was warranted. As a fan of college basketball in general, I even celebrated a little bit — it was a fantastic game that perfectly encapsulated what this rivalry means to the state of Iowa.
But we aren’t talking about the Cyclones’ 20-point comeback. We aren’t focused on Morris’ game winner, Matt Thomas dropping a career-high 19 points or even Jarrod Uthoff’s 30 points in the first half.
Those story lines are gone, replaced instead by court storming.
After the final buzzer rang out, hundreds of students and fans were on the court celebrating. They earned it. It was a big game.
But it was out of control. Des Moines Register columnist Randy Peterson got caught up in the chaos and suffered a fractured leg, breaking both his tibia and fibula.
“I knew the students were coming,” Peterson said in an interview with “The Dan Patrick Show” Friday morning. “I was just trying to beat it and it just didn’t work out.”
Peterson said he wasn’t trampled on the court, but rather just knocked to the ground. Either way, he was just trying to get out of the way and back to the media room so he could do his job.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that storming the court after big wins is a bad thing and should be eliminated from the game. I’ve stormed the court before, too. It’s a special thing.
Iowa State coach Steve Prohm agrees.
“That’s a part of college athletics,” Prohm said. “That’s a great moment. Those college kids … they’ve been camping out here for three days (to get a seat). There’s only probably 10 schools that do that in the country. Give them their 15 or 20 minutes to do that. I thought it was pretty cool.”
But it’s being done wrong.
I was sitting on the baseline Thursday night taking pictures of the game. As soon as it was over, fans from every direction were swarming the court. Security, which seemed understaffed to begin with, wouldn’t have stood a chance to hold these fans back, even if they were in position to begin with.
There was no way to ensure the safety of the coaches and players from either team. Officials, team staff and the media had to find their own way through the crowd to the locker rooms. For a minute or two, it was essentially a free-for-all.
I even watched a young boy get knocked down running onto the court. He jumped back up right away, but still.
I have no problem with people storming the court after big wins. But not the way it happened on Thursday.
“I’m OK with (fans storming the court),” Peterson told Dan Patrick. “Let the people who need to get off the floor first get off the floor, and the students can celebrate all they want.”
Peterson is absolutely right.
When a fan base is as passionate about its basketball team as Iowa State’s is, it deserves to celebrate. But the process needs to be modified.
Security needs to be in place after the game to keep the court clear until players, staff and others have had their chance to get off. Then let the students celebrate all they want.
Hopefully Peterson’s injury will bring light to this issue. He definitely wasn’t the first to be injured in a court storming — but he needs to be the last.