Those ruffians at the University of Miami stormed the court Wednesday night after their Hurricanes beat top-ranked Duke in men’s basketball. Where is the outrage?
Where it rightly should be: nowhere. The Blue Devils have a permanent target, No. 1 or not, because it’s fashionable to hate Duke, unless you attended Duke. Miami, meantime, was ranked but just barely, at No. 25.
Is there a “Stormin’ Formula” I missed somewhere? Is No. 25 over No. 1 an acceptable ranking ratio that would allow students to step onto the hallowed court? I think so. The only mitigating factor on the legitimacy of Miami’s celebration is that the game was a rare sellout. Very rare. The last sellout also had Duke on the menu. If you want your joy to be legit, you can’t just show up for the big ones, youngsters. You have to show up for all of them. But Coach Jim Larranaga should make believers of them, just as he did over the years at George Mason.
Maryland’s students, according to some, violated the “Stormin’ Formula” last week when they ran onto the court following a victory over North Carolina State. The Wolfpack was ranked No. 14, Maryland hadn’t beaten a ranked foe since 2010, and let’s face it, the Terps weren’t pretty to watch much of last year as Mark Turgeon began his rebuilding process. They are better this year, but they aren’t where Turgeon wants them just yet.
But why should that preclude the excitement shown by Terps fans, or players, or Turg himself? I have not been shy about criticizing some of the Maryland fan behavior in the past, but this seems so happy and harmless — who cares? Some people reacted with an “Act like you’re been there” attitude, but the fact is, many of those students and players haven’t been there. They might have been there for the last days of Gary Williams, which were none too exciting, or the first year of the Turgeon era, where he scraped the last of the leftovers off the buffet table of a roster he was handed and, frankly, overachieved.
You can’t hammer the Maryland fans for the occasional riot, or fire, or profane chant, and then scold them for a good, clean celebration. The Terps are finally putting some butts in the seats. (The erratic student attendance at Maryland has long puzzled me, and I am sure it has grated on Turgeon, who likes a full house.)
So all the ingredients were in place. The Terps were facing a ranked conference team before a full house. They hadn’t beaten a ranked team in three years. Their coach had yet to beat a ranked team while at the helm of Maryland. That’s nearly everything you need.
Then came the buzzer-beater, the final variable in the “Stormin’ Formula.” Is there anything better than a buzzer-beater? I stormed my townhouse — all three floors — after a certain one by Mario Chalmers in 2008 and I apologize to no one. Well, to the long-suffering neighbors on either side of me, but that’s it. So if I’m a college student in the stands and I see my once-downtrodden program win at the buzzer over a 14th-ranked team, I’m coming out of my seat.
Of course, I’m not a college student anymore, and neither were many of the fans at the game, and I’m guessing a good portion remained where they were or headed to the exits. Storming the court is reserved for students, as it should be. Scolding and disapproving is reserved for adults, sadly. To say that because Maryland won a national title 11 — that’s right, 11 — years ago, its student body should never get worked up about anything again is nuts. Most of the kids who stormed the court after the Wolfpack win were likely in grade school in 2002. Lighten up.
Now, the Terps’ next win over a mid-ranked team will not be worthy of such a celebration, because this team and these students and this coach have actually been there now. Beating a No. 1 team, beating a ballyhooed program (you know of whom I speak), then sure, live it up. Meantime, don’t listen to the curmudgeons who should be celebrating the fact that Terps fans chose some good clean fun for a change. Gather ye rosebuds and storm that court while ye may, Maryland students. Old time is still a-flying.
For previous columns by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.