From inside the celebrating, singing, sweating masses that rushed Comcast Center on Sunday afternoon, someone tried to hoist up Seth Allen.
At least, that’s how the Maryland point guard told it.
“No, he asked somebody to pick him up,” teammate Dez Wells said. “He asked somebody to pick him up. Nobody tried to pick him up.”
And nothing like that happened to Wells?
“No,” he said. “I’m too big.”
Off to the sideline, following Maryland’s 75-69 overtime win over fifth-ranked Virginia, Coach Mark Turgeon watched his Terrapins flood past, and then noticed the fans following behind them. Some were rushing through the aisles. Others were knocking over chairs, and sometimes whoever sat in them.
One female student was among the crowd and Turgeon noticed that she had fallen down, caught beneath the chairs and about to be trampled. For 40 minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime, Turgeon had been screaming as the Terps worked toward their biggest win of the season, but he summoned enough energy to shout, “Stop.”
And everyone stopped. The student stood up, unharmed, and continued with the celebration.
“I actually had a little pull out there today,” Turgeon said. “If we had lost, they probably would have ran over me … I felt pretty cool to be honest with you.”
At midcourt, everyone was jumping around. They were singing the opening chords to “Seven Nation Army.” Testudo, the Maryland mascot, surfed high above everyone. Former Maryland guard Steve Francis was there, wearing sunglasses and a Len Bias jersey. Children bounced on the shoulders of their fathers. Someone held up a white poster, on it written three characters in blue, “B-1-G.”
The afternoon was, in many ways, a celebration of the past. Legends signed autographs in the concourse. Heroes sat courtside and received standing ovations. Fans scribbled their memories onto a big sheet of paper and posed for pictures with trophies. And the court storm was one last victory cigar, smoked en masse.
Many of the players had experienced this before. All but four were around last season, when Maryland upset North Carolina State and Duke. Testudo crowd-surfed then too. They knew the drill.
“It was cool,” forward Jake Layman said. “I’m not really a big fan of those. It’s hard to breathe in there.”
Among the high-fives and hugs, Layman found his two younger brothers. Forward Jonathan Graham, who played at Penn State last season when Nittany Lions fans stunned Michigan and rushed the floor on Feb. 27, 2013, reared back and unleashed a primal yell.
The celebration had withstood a false start, when the fans plopped back into their seats after Virginia tied the game with a half-second left in regulation. But when the Cavaliers tried to rally in overtime and fizzled out, the chairs came tumbling down, this time for real.
“Very hot and tiring,” Wells said. “I couldn’t move. It was very hot. It gets really hot really fast. But it was fun. It was a great thing to be a part of.”