In all his years covering Kansas State for GoPowercat.com, D. Scott Fritchen had only seen a few players leap into media row at Bramlage Coliseum. He’d never been involved in one of those collisions.
He knew that was about to change when he saw Kansas guard Frank Mason come sprinting toward him in the final minutes of Monday night’s 74-71 Kansas victory over K-State.
“There was a slow-motion moment when we locked eyes,” Fritchen said, “and I knew for certain there would probably be a casualty.”
Fritchen first thought about his laptop — at least he’d backed it up last week — then a balky right knee that had bothered him since he broke his right tibia 10 years ago.
There wasn’t time to protect either. Mason was coming straight at him, dodging an ESPN cameraman and jumping over a photographer before sliding across the table.
The laptop went sailing, as did a notebook. Mason’s upper body hit Fritchen’s lap, the momentum carrying the guard off a vacant folding chair with an “Adam Simon” nametag on it.
Mason completed his aerobatics with a thud, taking a moment to figure out if he was OK.
“He’s a tough guy,” Fritchen said. “That was pretty remarkable, the efficiency and the swiftness with which he was able to get up, dust himself off and get back in there.”
After getting to his feet, Mason jumped over the same photographer he had before, ran back the court, then leaped up to steal a crosscout pass intended for Kamau Stokes.
Gingerly, Fritchen assessed his own damage. He stood on his right leg, realizing he hadn’t reinjured it. He also pulled his laptop off the concrete, expecting to see a broken screen.
“It was perfect,” Fritchen said. “It was a miracle.”
Fritchen made sure to talk to Mason at the postgame press conference, telling the guard he’d caught him (Mason apologized with a smile) before wishing him good luck.
“I took a spill. He took a spill,” Fritchen said. “But I was more concerned with him.”
The reporter, who is in his 20th season with GoPowercat, said he walked away from the incident in better shape than he could have hoped — with laptop and knee still intact.
“Those are OK,” Fritchen said. “I’m really glad that Frank Mason is OK as well.”