Court Rush Manifesto
It’s official! The 2014-15 season has had its first court rush! It happened this Saturday as the Rhode Island Rams upset #21 Nebraska at home. Rushing the court is often controversial across college basketball and football as over-enthusiastic college students are tasked with the monumental collective decision of “to rush or not to rush?” Before I get into my criteria and break down the URI/Nebraska game, let me say I’ve been at games where the court was rushed and I understand the safety concerns both for the fans and the players. It’s a huge part of college basketball despite efforts by some conferences like SEC to minimize the occurrences, and when done properly, it’s a really cool moment to be a part of as a fan. Things can go wrong, and inevitably they will. Look at last year as Utah Valley fans rushed the court after a win over New Mexico State while a fight was breaking out between players. It’s tragically overused and my fear is if continued at the current rate, the chances that something unfortunate will happen to a fan or player will only increase until it reaches a ‘tipping point’ and a great tradition of college basketball is removed from the game altogether. Not only that, but rushing the court at every opportunity, cheapens the magic of the court rush for the rest of us. Heck, a small student section rushed the court at Siena after a CBI win over Penn State last year. I kid you not. Let’s be smart about this guys, your parents are paying tuition for a reason. Let’s get to the criteria (higher score means more likely to rush):
- Expectation of Winning/Upset factor – Measuring if the game was actually an upset taking into account the Vegas Line and other factors. On this measure alone it’s usually hard to defend a ranked team playing at home ever rushing as a majority of the time they will be favored in the game. In this case, URI was a 1.5 point dog at home so they were in fact underdogs. In the greater scheme of things, Nebraska has been picked by most to finish in the top half of a good Big 10 boasting one of the best players in the nation while Rhode Island was predicted right around 6th in a solid A-10 with one of the best players in the conference, E.C. Matthews, on their roster. Not the most shocking upset if you’ve been paying attention, especially if you consider Nebraska star Terrance Petteway playing through an ankle injury, but an upset none the less. Verdict: 7/10
- Program Impact/Tradition – This is where you’ll see me argue that a ‘Blue-Blood’ program should never have to rush the court unless they’ve fallen upon historically awful times or under the rarest of circumstances (Christian Watford’s buzzer beater for Indiana against Kentucky in 2011-12 for example). This criterion measures the impact a win will have on the trajectory of the program moving forward. In this case, it’s large. URI’s first win over a ranked team since Lamar Odom played for the Rams in 1998. With highly respected Coach Dan Hurley in his third year trying to rebuild the Rams program, this is his best win and even more important after underperforming expectations last season. Even if Nebraska ends up being overrated, this win builds a ton of momentum for the program. Verdict: 9/10
- Impact on Season – This measures the impact of a win on any given season. For example, clinching the conference championship or an NCAA bid would qualify as a big boost. In this case, you can’t understate the momentum created from beating a top 25 team early in the year after two consecutive losing seasons. However, it’s still a November win so it can’t be too high. Verdict: 5.5/10
- Dramatic Ending – Higher scores here for buzzer beaters, overtime games, and comeback wins. Lower scores for blowouts unless it’s over a bitter rival. In this case, the game was tense and very much back and forth throughout the second half after a sluggish first half from both teams. The game went into overtime where Rhode Island got off to a hot start and held off Nebraska for the win. Verdict: 8/10
- Enthusiasm of Crowd – Not the biggest factor, but if you’re going to rush you better have the crowd in a frenzy, and have a well-executed rush of the court or you’ll be docked some major points here. You may ask, “if you’re trying to determine if you should rush, how can you factor in the actual rush of the court into the equation?” Well if you’re bad at rushing the court maybe you shouldn’t do it! You don’t want to see people just wandering onto the court; you want to see a seemingly synchronized sprint to mid-court. In URI’s case, the Rams student section, although not 100% filled, brought a consistent and loud chant of “I believe that we will win!” down the stretch of the game and into overtime. Not the most original chant, but certainly effective. When the time came to rush, they were off as the buzzer sounded. Well done. Verdict: 8/10
This is my formula – so I set the rules: 30% weight for Upset Factor and Program Impact, 15% on Season Impact and Dramatic Ending, and 10% weight on Crowd Enthusiasm. You have to get over a 5 to have an argument, but ideally I’d like to see you in the 6.5-7 range at the very least.
In this case, Rhode Island came in at a very rush-worthy 7.6. Congrats Rams fans, and way to kick off the season on the right foot!