The Georgetown Hoyas left the makeshift court on board the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla. Friday night trailing the Florida Gators 27-23 at halftime. When they came back out for the second half, they found a hardwood better suited for a Slip n’ Slide contest. After conferring with Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan and game officials, Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III agreed to cancel the second half due to extreme condensation on the court.
“I’ve never had a contest that’s been ended [under these circumstances], at any level,” Thompson said. “This would’ve been really dangerous, we couldn’t play in these conditions.”
It’s true – Vox tested the conditions and we nearly fell flat on our faces. Every time game staff and others (including sophomore Otto Porter Jr., pictured) worked to clean an area of the court, moisture would reappear a couple of minutes later. Officially, the game was marked as “no contest”, as if it never happened.
For Porter Jr. and company, it is a disappointing result, especially because they were ready to come out and amend their first half blemishes.
“We were going to adjust to some things a little and come out with more energy,” the sophomore said. “Try to keep the same gameplan we had in the first half – seemed to work a little bit. They were missing shots. We just wanted to contain them.”
The main problem with that first half was poor shooting from the Hoyas. They shot just 37 percent from the field, a result of far too much stagnation on the offensive end. The Blue and Gray struggled with the Gator zone for much of the half, relying on three-pointers and forcing rushed jumpers at the end of the shot clock on multiple occasions.
“We played around the perimeter too much and didn’t get the ball inside, into the middle of their zone as much as we needed to,” Thompson said. “They had us playing side to side too much instead of north to south.”
There were a number of bright spots though, as the Hoyas opened the night behind junior Nate Lubick’s seven straight points, including a three and an easy transition layup. “I came out confident and that’s something I need to do more of,” Lubick said. “I felt good and that just makes it more unfortunate that we only played a half of basketball.”
Eventually, Porter Jr. got involved with seven points of his own, while freshmen D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Stephen Domingo made their presences felt in their college debuts. Thompson admitted it was difficult to gauge anything on one half of basketball but took a measured look at his team’s shortened performance.
“I think we looked like the first game of the year,” he stated. “I think we have a long way to go on both ends.”
Georgetown’s game was not the only one scheduled on an aircraft carrier this weekend, nor was it the only one to end under poor conditions. Syracuse’s matchup with San Diego State was postponed by two days while a matchup between Ohio State and Marquette in South Carolina was canceled before it started for similar condensation concerns.
The Navy-Marine Corps Classic did have a contingency plan in case of inclement weather, as fans received extra tickets to a local Jacksonville arena in case Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. But switching venues once the game was underway with 3,500 spectators was not a particularly realistic proposition.
According to Thompson, the conditions were just as bad during the team’s shootaround on Thursday but he was reassured when the team arrived to initially dry court conditions on Friday evening. Still, Thompson and his players were thrilled with the experience, perhaps an even more memorable one considering the unfortunate ending.
“It was awesome,” Lubick said of the trip. “It’s unfortunate that it ended this way but it was just such an honor and a privilege to come out and here and play in such a cool event.”
For tonight, at least, the Hoyas can reflect on the potential they had and what could’ve been in the second half. There’s no rest for the weary, though, as they have their home opener – and now season opener as well – against Duquesne on Sunday at the Verizon Center. The game, which will be live on ESPNU and tweeted (VoiceSportsGU), is slated for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff.
Photo: Kevin Joseph