It was a back forth game from early on, but as the final minute ran off the clock it seemed that WVU might actually pull of the upset. So much so, apparently, that the guy in front of me left, as in left the Coliseum, with 29 seconds to go (with WVU only up by 3 and Purdue with the ball - I KNOW!). And in this final minute the students began making their way to the edge of the floor, intent upon rushing it when the clock read 0:00.
So, were the WVU students overreacting to today's victory? Should they have stayed in their seats and celebrated with more restraint? (Side note: If it had been a football game, they would've had no choice, rushing the football field is strictly forbidden at WVU. The why for that is another day's tale.) My take? No. I think it was great sight to see and a well-deserved celebration for the team.
Those that disagree with me said that for a team that just went to the Final Four, we should've known the victory over Purdue wasn't that big of a deal. That we are a successful team and need to start acting like it. More like the fans at Kansas do perhaps.
I disagree. The team that played yesterday isn't the team that played in the Final Four last year. (And they aren't the team that got knocked out in the first round 2 years ago either.) They are a team struggling for their identity; that some say won't even get into the Big Dance. They are a team that needed a big win, at home, over a big opponent. Was beating Purdue the same as beating Duke, Kentucky, Pitt, Kansas? No. Was it the big win that this team needed this year? Yes.
As to our fans (students specifically?) needing to act like we've been here before. Well, we really haven't. Yes, we've won some big games in recent years, but as a WVU fan, sadly, you get used to winning the games you should lose and losing the games you should win. And the really big games? They always seem to get away from us. Yes, there are exceptions - WVU's Elite Eight victory last year; the football team's Fiesta Bowl victory 3 years ago, but around here, they are exceptions. Yes, we were 3 point favorites over Purdue today; but actually winning the game is much bigger than if we'd lost. If we'd lost, everyone would've said it's because Butler and Ebanks are gone; we are rebuilding; we knew it would be a long year. But instead, today's victory showed us that yes, Butler and Ebanks are gone; yes, we are rebuilding; and yes, it might just be a long year. Maybe even deep into March.
So, would Duke or Kentucky or North Carolina or Kansas have rushed the court after a victory like the Mountaineers had yesterday? Probably not. Were the WVU students right to do it? Yes. When we have a string of 3 or 4 or heck, even 2 years, of reaching the Elite 8 or even the Sweet 16; when we are playing for the Big East Championship for back to back years; when we are starting the season ranked in the top 25 then I will expect to see a different reaction to a win like today. But a piece of me will be sad too. I dream of the day WVU sports are consistently top tier; consistently nationally known, but the day that we forget that beating #8 Purdue was reason to rush the court is the day we've forgotten where we came from.
And for those of you Mountaineer fans who weren't there; who didn't feel the energy of the Coliseum but who want to criticize the court-rushing? Shame on you.