In the aftermath of another loss and court-storming at Bramlage Coliseum, Kansas coach Bill Self sat inside a makeshift media room and voiced his displeasure with the way Kansas State and the security at Bramlage Coliseum handled and controlled postgame celebration.
In the moments after K-State’s 70-63 victory, the K-State student section spilled onto the floor at Bramlage Coliseum, creating a wave of bodies that pushed Self and K-State coach Bruce Weber toward the scorer’s table. As they stood pressed together, pinned near the sideline, Weber embraced Self as the Kansas coach smashed up against the table.
Meanwhile, at least one KU player was the target of a running shove from a fan. The player, KU’s junior Jamari Traylor, absorbed contact from the fan while moving toward the tunnel at Bramlage Coliseum. Moments later, KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend grabbed hold of a K-State fan who was taunting and gesturing toward a group of KU players trying to exit the court.
“I wasn’t nervous for me,” Self said. “There were several students that hit our players. I’m not saying like with a fist, but when you storm the court, you run in, you bump everybody, stuff like that. This has got to stop. I think court-storming is fine, but certainly you can get security to the point where players’ safety is not involved like it is here the last several times."
The images and videos immediately went viral on Twitter and other social media, setting off a wave of debate about court-stormings and the safety problems that can ensue when thousands of college students flood onto a basketball floor as the buzzer sounds.
Self made it clear that he is not opposed to students coming onto the court, but he was unhappy with the way K-State and security at Bramlage controlled the situation. He was also visibly frustrated that his players were targeted by a couple of fans.
“It’s a ballgame,” Self said. “It’s not about chicken-winging somebody when the game’s over. That’s not what it’s about. Hopefully, they can get that corrected. It’s fine if you want to celebrate when you beat us, that’s your business. That’s fine. But at least it shouldn’t put anybody at risk from a safety standpoint.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber said he apologized to Self after the incident near the scorer’s table.
“I felt bad,” Weber said. “I love the students, and it is a cool thing to be a part of that, but you also have to be careful of making sure nobody gets hurt.”
Weber said he was forced to start pushing fans out of the way to clear room.
“Finally, I said: ‘To heck with it,’ and started pushing people out of the way, which is sad," Weber said. "You want to enjoy it, but also be respectful of your opponent and make sure they get off the court safely.”
Kansas, of course, is used to scenes like this. This season, the Jayhawks have witnessed court-stormings in losses at Temple, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and now Kansas State.
Standing in a Bramlage Coliseum concourse after Monday’s loss, Kansas sophomore wing Brannen Greene said he didn’t feel unsafe during the scene.
“Of course, there’s always the fans,” Greene said, “and guys want to go touch the players and touch the opposing players like that, make they’re little impact on the game.”
The last three Sunflower Showdown games at Bramlage Coliseum have also featured contentious scenes after the buzzer. Two years ago, KU guard Elijah Johnson blew kisses to the K-State crowd as boos rained down onto the court. Self also referenced last year’s game, which included K-State students rushing onto the floor in a wild scene.
“You’re asking for big problems,” Self continued. “Because somebody’s going to hit a player, and the player’s going to retaliate, and you’re going to have lawsuits and cases, and it’s just not right. There’s just no place to be unsafe. If you do it, at least do it around center-court; don’t do it at the other bench.”
In the end, though, Self conceded that Monday’s scene would have been avoided if the Jayhawks would have handled their business on the road.
"That’s disappointing that that happened again,” Self said. “But we also allowed it to happen again.”
▪ Key play: Nino Williams’ hit two free throws and gave K-State a 31-30 halftime lead.
▪ Key stat: Wildcats guard Nigel Johnson scored 10 points.
▪ Key play: Johnson hit a three that tied the score at 52-52, giving K-State the momentum it needed to go on a late run.
▪ Key stat: The Wildcats made 56 percent of their shots.