A Fan of the Game

Sports Talk, Straight Talk

Court-storming complaining should cease

When’s the last time you heard of a serious injury from court storming?

I’ll wait.

If you’re having a little trouble, that’s because they happen as much as you actually starting that diet and exercise routine. A quick Google search yields no incidents post 2004. Every other article’s headline contains the words “before someone gets hurt,” or “potential.” That’s all it is, potential.

This increasingly preventative culture we find ourselves in won’t be satisfied until all seven billion of us live in padded rooms and talk in clichés. Then again, I’ve heard straitjackets can cause those awful pins and needles. Ban them.

The court-storming at the University of Virginia produced zero injuries – well, save for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s bruised ego. Video packages of his kvetching poisoned the airwaves. A simple solution for you Coach K? Quit losing to inferior opponents.

Fans begin rushing the field after unranked Virginia upset then No. 10 Clemson in 2006. The constant complaining over the fans’ enjoyment needs to stop.

It’s ironic this tsunami of prevention doubled in size after the court-storming at U.Va. It directly contradicts Thomas Jefferson’s declaration that all of us have a right to the pursuit of happiness. A novel idea the talking heads should explore.

Court-storming is an exhilarating experience for students. In 2006, I rushed onto the field at Lane Stadium after unranked Virginia Tech knocked off then-No. 10 Clemson. That ranks in my top five moments at college. Football coach Frank Beamer had the players come back out of the locker room to mingle with the fans.

Take that away, and the gluttonous football programs become even more isolated from the college experience (SEE: SEC, which banned field-rushing and court-storming nine years ago).

Arguments attacking the court-storming frequency have more credence but still are misguided. Students yearn for that bliss they see on television when a winless-in-the-Big-10 Penn State team shocks a top-five Michigan team. So, they lower the court-storming criteria.

Let them have their fun. The only people I see complaining about it are the ones who no longer have the chance to participate.


March 2, 2013 Posted by | College Basketball, Football | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Column: Playing for Life

Former afanofthegame blogger Nathan Skytta pops back in to tell the story of BYU’s dream of a national championship. The Cougars’ head coach Dave Rose overcame cancer last summer bringing more emotion into the 2009-10 college basketball season.

Note: Story written after first round and before second round of NCAA tournament.

After Brigham Young University’s coach Dave Rose beat pancreatic cancer last summer, the team and the school did not want this season to be just another season for the team.  After having a successful past few season, BYU wanted to continue their regular season domination of the Mountain West Conference this season and to advance into the deeper rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Even though the Cougars did not win the conference outright, they did finish second in the conference and that was enough to enter them into the tournament.

When BYU was matched up against the University of Florida, they knew that a challenge was ahead of them. BYU came into the matchup having lost seven straight first round matchups and knew Florida had won 12 games in a row.

They knew that it was going to be a big game for both teams, but for BYU, it meant something more. They hadn’t won a tournament game since 1993 and hadn’t advanced any further since 1981, when Danny Ainge was on the team.

BYU head coach Dave Rose won the most important battle of his life last summer — against cancer.

Led by James “Jimmer” Fredette, BYU defeated the Gators 99-92 in double overtime. Fredette led the team with 37 points, including knocking down two three-pointers in the second overtime. With the victory, the Cougars advanced to the second round of the tournament for the first time in 17 years.

“We had a second life, or a third life, or whatever it was,” Fredette said, “and I just wanted to go out there and try to get it done because I don’t know if I could have played another overtime.”

Florida didn’t make the game easy for the Cougars. In fact, if you ask the Gators, the game should have been theirs.

“You can’t complain about the looks we got at the end,” said Chandler Parsons, who landed game-winning shots at the final buzzer against North Carolina State and South Carolina this season. “We fought hard. Everyone was tired but they were just as tired as us.”

Parsons missed what were, at the time, potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime period. Fredette and his teammates did not allow Parsons or any other Gator clean shots during the second overtime, and therefore did not allow for what could have been a dramatic finish.

When asked what his thoughts were on the victory for his team Rose said, “This was a long time in coming for our program, and it’s a big win. One of the most important goals we had at the start of this season was to get into this tournament and advance, and we’re advancing. I’m proud of our guys.”

Probably the most fitting quote that could come from a cancer survivor, a coach, and a mentor to many athletes, Rose told the attending media members, “You’re playing for your life,” he said. It’s one and done at this point.”

BYU moves on to face Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, where the team will fight just like their coach has inspired them to do all season long. Their coach was successful at defeating his opponent, and that’s exactly what his team plans on doing until they can cut down the nets and raise the championship trophy.

–Nathan Skytta

April 2, 2010 Posted by | College Basketball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nikki Davis – VT Women’s Basketball


There is a Japanese proverb that states, “When you have completed 95 percent of your journey, you are only halfway there.”

Sophomore guard Nikki Davis is beginning that second half of her college journey at Virginia Tech. Davis is a transfer student from the University of Alabama, and in the small number of games she has played so far, she is making quite the impact — averaging 8.5 points per game, which is good enough for third on the team.

Coming out of Lexington Catholic High School in Kentucky, Davis, who competed in four state championships, decided to head south to Tuscaloosa and play for the Crimson Tide.

“I knew I wanted to get out of Kentucky,” Davis said. “I took a couple visits there (Alabama) and liked the facilities, players, weather and the fact it is a big SEC school. I think the conference really drove me there.”

Things didn’t turn out as planned and Davis decided to look elsewhere for a place to play.

“There were a number of things,” that made her decided to transfer, said Davis, who played in all 30 games and started 19 for Alabama in her freshman season, of deciding to transfer. “Honestly, life’s too short not to be happy. I wanted to get closer to home and see my family a little more.”

With Ty Evans — an assistant coach at Alabama — knowing a coach here at Tech, Davis saw the Hokies as a real possibility.

“We got a release, which if you are a recruit you send a release to any school you are interested in,” said head coach Beth Dunkenberger of the transfer process. “We got her on the phone, invited her to come for a visit. She came and liked it.”

“During my visit, I went out with the girls and had fun,” Davis said. “I liked the ACC conference, which I think is the most competitive in the country. I had an opportunity to play and help build a team.”

The only thing standing in Davis’ way of playing was the NCAA rule of sitting out one year after transferring. Dunkenberger thinks the rule is a good idea.

“It makes kids think long and hard about making the decision,” Dunkenberger said. “It prevents the situation where, if you have a bad day at practice, you can transfer and play right away. It also prevents other schools from tampering and talking kids into transferring.”

Knowing she had more than a year to wait for playing time (Davis left the team three months before transferring), Davis looked at the year as an opportunity.

“At first, I wasn’t too excited about it, but I understand why it is in place,” Davis said. “I got in the gym, got a lot of practice and worked on things I needed to get better at. It was hard in the beginning because I was conditioning, running, weightlifting and not getting to play (in games) …

“I learned a lot basketball-wise, though, and how to see the game from a coaching perspective. I appreciate the game more, now.”

Nikki Davis

Nikki Davis

Besides learning about the game and constantly practicing, Davis was able to attend home games and cheer on the team.

“She always sat with the team on the bench,” said Dunkenberger. “She was one of our loudest people on the bench. She has a very energetic and spunky personality, and it is very contagious. She gets her teammates and fans excited. I love her enthusiasm for the game.”

“I wanted to be there for my teammates and encourage them as much as I could,” Davis said.

Davis’ first game was in Texas for the South Padre Island Shootout. Her first action was against Southern Methodist on Dec. 20. In the 13 minutes she played, Davis scored 10 points, had one assist, four turnovers and five personal fouls.

“Obviously I was a little rusty and nervous,” Davis said with a chuckle. “But I was super-excited to play. After about three games I was OK.”

“I think it’s taken her a little time — which is normal — to get in the flow of things with everyone else,” Dunkenberger said. “It’s certainly different when you are practicing from when there are people in the stands and the lights are on. I think she has progressed nicely.”

Davis is certainly an asset to the team. Davis and Dunkenberger agree that her speed is her best attribute.

“She has another gear with the ball in her hands,” said Dunkenberger. “She is very quick, and that helps break presses and find seams in the defense.”

“I think transition (is my best attribute on the court),” Davis said. “I don’t know if it’s my best, but it is my favorite. I love pushing the ball, making decisions, attacking and setting someone up.”

Fellow guard Lindsay Biggs is pleased by Davis’ presence as an extra asset at the point and a significant addition of energy.

“Nikki’s been a real spark,” Biggs said. “She’s real aggressive out there. She probably drives to the basket harder than anyone else on the team.”

The team has stepped its game up in ACC play, and even though it hasn’t won one of them yet, the games have been extremely close.

“In ACC play, we have picked it up tremendously,” Davis said. “We don’t take moral victories. We played Duke and Maryland close. All of these teams we have played close, but we want to win. Point-blank. Period …

“We’re never satisfied. We feel strong enough as a team that on any given night we can pull off some upsets or knock off top-ranked teams.”

Davis sees a great future for the team as well, not limited to this year.

“One of our favorite mottos is ‘climbing up ladders and cutting down nets.’ Our goal is to make it to the post-season and tournament. Once we have our foot in the door, it is all about being able to go out, play and bring home championships.”

The first half of her journey is complete. The second part is just beginning.

“I am able to have fun, get hyped before games, love doing what I am doing, and love being a Hokie.”

February 13, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment