In addition to suffering a costly loss against its in-state rival and having its Big 12 lead whittled down to just a half a game, Kansas suffered one final indignity Monday night.
The eighth-ranked Jayhawks couldn't get off the floor quickly enough to avoid getting swallowed up in the tidal wave of Kansas State fans who flooded the court after their team's 70-63 upset victory.
A knucklehead Kansas State fan rushed at Kansas forward Jamari Traylor and body checked him on his way off the floor. Another Wildcats fan taunted several Jayhawks players until a Kansas assistant approached from behind and flung him away. Neither head coach was safe either as Bill Self and Bruce Weber both got pinned against the scorer's table by the crush of on-rushing bodies.
“There were several students that hit our players," Self told reporters after the game. "Not saying like with fists, but when you storm the court, you run in, you bump everybody, stuff like that. This has got to stop.
"Court storming is fine, but surely you can get security to the point where player safety is not involved like it is over here. The last several times they’ve won, they’ve stormed the court on us. That’s disappointing that that happened again, but we also allowed it to happen again by not playing well.
“It’s a ballgame. It’s not about chicken winging somebody when the game’s over, stuff like that. That’s not what it’s about. Hopefully they can get that corrected, because 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, because we’re asking for big problems because somebody’s going to hit a player, and a player’s going to retaliate."
Self's comments will surely reignite the annual debate over whether court storming has a place in college basketball, a controversy that has arisen after a handful of incidents in recent years.
In Jan. 2013, NC State forward C.J. Leslie had to lift Will Privette to safety after the senior was thrown from his wheelchair during the court storming that followed the Wolfpack's upset of Duke. In Feb. 2014, a melee erupted at Utah Valley when New Mexico State players exchanged punches with on-rushing fans just after the final buzzer.
The most severe court storming injury of all came in Feb. 2004 when an avalanche of Tucson High students spilled onto the court after 6-foot-6 senior Joe Kay clinched a rivalry victory with a two-handed breakaway dunk. The torn carotid artery and stroke Kay suffered that day left him paralyzed on one side and robbed him of many of the gifts that enabled him to become the valedictorian of his class, win awards for his saxophone skills and earn a volleyball scholarship to Stanford.
"My injuries are something I'll have to deal with the rest of my life," Kay told Yahoo Sports last year. "If court-storming didn't exist, or if none of the people at my high school had ever really seen it on TV, it probably never would have happened. People claim it's a tradition but we shouldn't have tradition if it's unsafe. It doesn't make sense."
The alarming part about the Kansas State court storm was that security didn't appear to be prepared for what was about to happen. The previously struggling Wildcats led for the final eight minutes against an arch rival they had only beaten four times in the previous 53 meetings, yet there was no obvious security presence to help the Jayhawks off the floor or to hold back the students long enough for opposing players to get to safety.
"I apologized to Bill and his staff and to their administration," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber told the Wichita Eagle. "I felt bad. I love the students and it is a cool thing to be part of that, but you also have to be careful making sure nobody gets hurt."
Credit Traylor and his teammates for keeping their cool and not retaliating only seconds after an emotional loss.
Their restraint prevented an unsafe situation from turning into something uglier.
Video of Jamari Traylor getting body checked:
Video of Bill Self getting pinned against the scorer's table:
- - - - - - -