With March Madness just around the corner, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski raised concerns about safety during those postgame rush-the-court moments.
Krzyzewski was Duke-focused after the Blue Devils fell to Virginia in Charlottesville on Thursday night and found themselves in a crush of humanity. He also came off as a trifle tired and whiny after being swarmed after a road loss for the fourth time this season. But, in a season in which seemingly any college team can beat any other team, it’s only going to get more pressure-packed as the stakes rise in the conference and NCAA tournaments.
“When we’ve lost in the last 20 years, everybody rushes the court,” Krzyzewski said. “Whatever you’re doing, you need to get the team off first. Celebrate, have fun. Obviously you won. That’s cool, but just get our team off the court and our coaching staff before students come on.”
Duke has lost on the road to North Carolina State, Miami and Maryland. It isn’t just players and coaches who are at risk. After the N.C. State game, the Wolfpack’s C.J. Leslie had to rescue Will Privette, a wheelchair-bound fan. Last season, North Carolina Coach Roy Williams ordered his starters, assistants and managers off the court with seconds left in what was about to be a loss at Florida State.
“Look, do you know how close you are to — just put yourself in the position of one of our players or coaches,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m not saying any fan did this, but the potential is there all the time for a fan to just go up to you and say, ‘Coach you’re a [expletive],’ or push you or hit you. And what do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.
“I’m always concerned about stuff like that, especially at this time of the year. What if that happened and we get a kid suspended? That becomes the national story. It’s not all fun and games when people are rushing the court, especially for the team that lost. Again, congratulations to them, and they should have fun and burn benches and do all that stuff. I’m all for that. They have a great school, great kids, but get us off the court. That’s the bottom line.”
Update, 12:05 p.m.: A Virginia spokesman told The Post’s Mark Giannotto on Friday morning that Krzyzewski and his staff were notified of the school’s protocol when fans rush the court during Duke’s morning shoot-around ahead of Thursday’s game. The official said all procedures were followed and that the Blue Devils were told to exit the floor via “a safe zone” created by security personnel near the scorer’s table.
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