Behind The ScenesNCAAB

Jeannine Edwards and Dave O’Brien discuss how they weather court stormings

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Seth Greenberg’s Court Storming Rules


I have various rules over the years, and sometimes these change and get modified. There are certain aspects that make it legal and illegal. I actually get people now tweeting me asking if it’s legal or illegal leading up to the end of the game. Here are some of “Seth’s Storming Rules”:

• Certain schools can’t rush the court – Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas. They just can’t rush the court. Naismith would not approve of fans from the birth place of basketball rushing the court.

• If you beat a Top 5 team and the arena is sold out – you can rush the court. If it’s not sold out, you can’t rush the court because people don’t care enough.

• If you chant, “Overrated,” you can’t rush the court. If you think they are overrated, then they must not be worthy of rushing the court.

• If you make a half-court shot to win the game, that is a legal rush the court.

• Fans can’t rush the court if you are the ranked team and you beat an unranked team – totally against the rules of rushing the court.

College GameDay or national TV there – that is always a positive.

• Then you can rate the storming of the court… Virginia was a very slow developing storm. Butler and Miami were very good storming. I was impressed with Minnesota fans’ effort, they had to climb up on to the court to storm it, so it added a degree of difficulty.

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On three consecutive nights this week in college basketball, an unranked opponent has toppled a Top 5 team. For two of the games, ESPN had the telecast — last night’s No. 3 Duke’s loss at Virginia and Tuesday’s No. 1 Indiana’s loss at Minnesota.

In each, a high camera shot displayed, as Andy Katz describes in the Katz Korner video above, a “surge of humanity” swarming the court as fans fled their seats and congregated at mid-court to salute their conquering heroes.

But it was the Cavaliers’ court storming that set off a national debate as Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski –whose team has been “stormed” four times since Jan. 12 — expressed concern for his players’ safety.

Throughout Friday that debate has raged on with input from the likes of Dan Dakich, Katz, Mike Greenberg and Mark Schlereth and Seth Greenberg.

Somewhat overlooked in the discussion, however, is how the storm’s surge affects the game’s broadcast team. Front Row reached out to ESPN play-by-play man Dave O’Brien and sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards to get firsthand accounts of weathering the storm. O’Brien, who says he’s been part of seven or eight rushes, was on the call for Maryland’s Feb. 16 upset over Duke and again last night in Charolottesville. Edwards said she’s been part of five stormings this season alone, including three of Duke’s (Jan. 12 at NC State, Jan. 23 at Miami and Maryland).

Preparing for the storm:

J.E.: You’re anxiously awaiting the :00’s on the clock, and then it’s a mad stampede.

D.O.: There is an anxiety that builds in the final minutes of the game.

J.E.: I usually hover at the edge of the court, hopefully have a couple of cops nearby, and bolt in the direction of the winning head coach as soon as I see :00’s.

D.O.: Our producer, Scott Matthews, lines up security to be at our backs at the broadcast station. For the Maryland upset of Duke, we felt the fans getting into a position, almost linebacker position, near the end of the game. Our table was still jostled and Jeannine was in the middle of it on-court.

ESPN's Dave O'Brien
ESPN’s Dave O’Brien (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Staying safe during the storm:

J.E.: I actually think it’s kind of fun. The atmosphere is electric, the excitement of the crowd is palpable. [The winning coach] will inevitably be shaking hands in front of the scorer’s table so if I lose him in the crowd I can eventually find him in that vicinity. The trick is for the camera guy to then find US!

D.O.: It’s great theater. But you really hope the kids and the coaches — and Jeannine or whomever — get off the floor safely. If not, they might have to start putting in fines and punishments. But I would hate to see that. It’s one of the great theaters and entertainment of the sport.

Some of the best television shots we’ve had on ESPN was court storming right after the game and see the heroes on the shoulders of the students. It’s a reason some of us get into sports. For that spirit and excitement.

J.E.: When Maryland beat NC State, I literally had to pull head coach Mark Turgeon out of the seats because he was fist pumping and shouting at the crowd after climbing over some seats. It was awesome. Then after Maryland beat Duke he had to compose himself, take a deep breath, and then he said to me, “You must be my good luck charm.”

ESPN's Jeannine Edwards (Photo credit: Don Juan Moore)
ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards (Don Juan Moore/ESPN)

D.O.: You can feel the crowd around you getting ready. You can’t help but to be in the middle of it because of where the broadcast table is. The players are probably not as aware of it but we have cameras everywhere and capture it. When the fans start encroaching on the court near the end of the game, the players are probably looking for their way out of there — and so do we.

J.E.: But fair warning to any court rushers: Ask anyone who’s ever done a post-game interview with me in a chaotic setting…I take no prisoners. If you’re in my way, look out! I will not be denied.

Storm stories:

D.O.: There was one I was doing for radio before I was at ESPN and the kids actually ran over the broadcast table. Our equipment was going everywhere. I vividly remember the feeling of a kid’s knee knocking my headset off.

When it happens, you are not going anywhere for 15 minutes. If you have a tight flight, you can kiss that goodbye. For me, I don’t want to leave. I want to soak it all in.

Michael Humes contributed to this post

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