Nov. 10, 2012
Jacksonville, Fla. - The Georgetown University men's basketball team left the USS Bataan and Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla. with memories that will last a lifetime on Friday night.
Sure, they didn't leave with a win and they also didn't leave with a loss, just a no-contest. But the experience of practicing and playing aboard an active military warship and the chance to meet and interact with the sailors and the servicemen and servicewomen of the USS Bataan were interactions they will never forget.
Tipping off at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Friday night, the Hoyas and the Gators played a full half, with UF leading 27-23 at the break, before the game was halted. Upon returning from the team's makeshift locker room on the deck of the USS Bataan, Head Coach John Thompson, his players and staff were greeted by a floor that had grown slick with condensation during the break.
As the floor was being wiped down do get rid of the growing condensation, players and staff from both teams joined in an attempt to get the second half underway. Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III and Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan met with school officials as well as members of Jacksonville Sports & Entertainment and the referees to discuss continuing the game. After initially putting seven minutes on the clock, the game was halted.
The game will be ruled as a no-contest, with the score and no statistics counting toward season or career totals.
Both coaches addressed the crowd of 3,500 on the deck of the ship and thanked them for their patience and support of the event.
"I feel bad because of the all the sailors and all the effort and energy the Navy and Marines into hosting the event," Thompson said. "We looked at this as an educational experience to come and learn and give back a little bit, so you wish the game could have been able to go on. But it made sense to stop it."
It was a spectacular, clear evening, though a bit cool in a setting unlike any other for a Georgetown basketball game. The first half started with a stirring rendition of the National Anthem for award-winning country band Little Big Town and included a re-enlistment ceremony of seven sailors at the 12-minute timeout, with players and coaches from both teams congratulating them.
The Hoyas took an early lead in the half on a three-pointer from Nate Lubick (Southborough, Mass./St. Marks), who scored seven points, and trailed by four points, 27-23, at the break.
"We wanted to play," Thompson said. "We saw a lot of things I thought we could capitalize on in the second half. Competitively, you want to play. But once I walked from the baseline to half-court, I realized this is not a safe surface. The kids' safety - both their team and our team - means too much."
Following the announcement of the suspension of the game, Georgetown players went into the stands and shook hands with the sailors who were present and thanked them for their service.
"It was disappointing not to finish," Lubick said. "This was a great atmosphere and a great opportunity to play on a court unlike any other. Coach reminded us all week about remembering that while we want to win, the chance to play in front of the Navy and the people who protect our country is a great way to give a little back and say thanks."
Georgetown (0-0) will play its season opener on Sunday, Nov. 11 at home against Duquesne in a regional round game of the Legends Classic. Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m.