SPOKANE — Kansas State made national headlines for good reasons and bad Monday night when fans stormed the court after the Wildcats shocked the eighth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas players and coaches were unable to escape the mob rushing onto the floor, and it was fortunate no one was injured.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few, speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s practice at the McCarthey Athletic Center, said he feared his team might have been caught in a similar situation Saturday if Saint Mary’s had knocked off the third-ranked Bulldogs in Moraga, CA. It was Senior Night at Saint Mary’s, and the Gaels’ tiny arena was rocking when the home team led the hated Bulldogs by as many as 17 points before losing 70-60.
“I’m not saying I was thinking about losing,” Few said with a nervous laugh, “but I was just preparing and looking around, like, ‘We have no chance.’ There’s nothing (in place to protect the Bulldogs). There isn’t one security person that I could see.”
BYU and Gonzaga have the largest arenas in the West Coast Conference and are the only WCC teams that regularly draw large crowds, but sellouts are common when perennial champion Gonzaga visits conference rivals. Few said “it’s time to do something” in the WCC and other college leagues in regard to fans storming the court.
“The teams in our league are not equipped because they’re not used to drawing people,” Few said. “It crossed my mind at Saint Mary’s. There’s so many people packed in there with NO security whatsoever.”
Few added, “We had my little daughter on the bench down there. I’m sure she would have been fine, but these people — you know, college kids getting in guys’ (players’) faces – it’s not safe, and it’s a really scary, scary thing. It’s really putting the guys (players) in a really tough spot. You’re not sure how they’re going to react.”