“I looked down and I couldn’t believe they had uniformed cops at all the entry points. I just thought, ‘wow…they really don’t want us to storm the court.’ I mean cops? Is that really necessary?” Siena senior Kevin Risolo on the increased security for the MAAC championship game.
That was the general reaction from students the day after the debacle that immediately followed the Saints winning the MAAC tournament. Initially, the influx of security and police officers appeared to have the upper hand. With 30 seconds left in the game they quite literally lifted a female student off into a nearby tunnel while one member of security was poking Siena fans who were getting too close to the rail with the end of a large MAAC banner. Narrowing down the passage to the floor to basically two aisles was looking like a successful tactic in keeping the student sections from storming the court.
Until with approximately 11 seconds left when the bunched up sea of yellow began to chant in unison, “You can’t stop us!” Then everyone in the arena knew that 30 men really couldn’t stop 1,000 running students. They tried anyway, however, and with the tight spaces security created a jailbreak scenario ensued that actually increased the chance of injury to students.
Around campus students are describing how they watched helpless people trapped up against steel bars as the momentum of the crowd kept pouring down a single aisle. In classes they talked about how scared they felt compared to past years. When told that it was the MAAC that insisted on targeting Siena students and not the Times Union Center, many students took it as an anti-Siena ploy. Would security even move to stop the 50 or so Fairfield fans from rushing down to the court if Needham hit that game winner? There certainly weren’t any apologies on campus for Siena’s basketball success or for the students’ passion for the team.
MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor made a comment referring to the student’s rushing the court this year as inappropriate due to the Saints’ recent success in the MAAC tournament. What Ensor is unable to understand (or admit) is that these past 4 seasons have stood as the most historic college basketball period in Siena’s history. This wasn’t just another game. It was the end of an era that has never been seen before in this league. How many teams across the nation over the last ten years have been to their conference finals 4 consecutive times, and won 3 in a row? How many teams in the MAAC have done that…ever? Yes, Siena was expected to win this season, but no team is ever expected to have the lasting dominance they’ve have and the students should not be criticized for wishing to be a part of that in some way.
“It’s frustrating because you always see that picture around campus of Ubiles on top of everyone’s shoulders after they won it all last year. It’s an awesome shot. Who wouldn’t want to be in that picture? But all of a sudden this year we’re not allowed. I don’t get it,” senior Lisa Dussalt. There are some who feel the Siena students should have remained in the nose bleed seats and watched their team cut down the nets through binoculars. There are some who feel that by storming the court and disobeying rules, the students were ruining the integrity of college basketball. So what does this writer say to those people who feel college sports shouldn’t be enjoyed most by the students who make up the schools? I envision that classic Ubiles picture where he is being hoisted up in celebration by his peers and think to myself: Funny how you’re not in it.