An exciting if error-filled game to honor the troops is nixed when conditions get dangerous.
Georgetown and Florida played half of a game Friday night on the decks of the U.S.S. Bataan before a slippery playing surface forced the game's cancellation. Of course, the game achieved its broader objective of honoring the members of the navy who were able to watch the game and meet the players beforehand. But it utterly failed to meet the other goals: raising the teams' profiles while, you know, playing a competitive game to its point of resolution. Along with the similarly canceled Ohio State-Marquette game, scheduled for competition on board the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina, the scotching of the Hoyas-Gators game hopefully will put an end to what seems to be a dangerous practice and a marketing disaster to boot.
The Hoyas and Gators did play a half, at the end of which Florida led by 4, 27-23. Predictably, given the outdoor conditions and that it was the teams' first game, the shooting was spotty and the play was otherwise choppy. Florida led for most of the half, though never by more than five, at 15-10. Defensively, Georgetown forced a number of early turnovers, but also yielded a number of wide-open three-pointers. Several of the open treys came on high pick-and-rolls, where Gator guard Kenny Boynton shook free on the perimeter or found big man/screener Erik Murphy on the pop behind the arc. The Gators also found an advantage in the paint, where Patric Young and Will Yeguete both overpowered their defenders.
On offense, Georgetown had a few highlights and plenty of room for growth. Junior forward Nate Lubick had a fast start, hitting three of his first four shots en route to seven first-half points. Otto Porter, after missing his first two shots, made his last three, also notching seven before the game was called. Greg Whittington had a couple of opportunistic baskets, on a cut across the lane and on an offensive rebound, while freshman D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera looked comfortable immediately, threading a nifty pass to Lubick on one possession and canning a three on another.
There were plenty of causes for concern. The Hoyas' pick-and-roll defense was slow and jumbled, while the Hoya bigs seemed overpowered by their Gator counterparts. On offense, the Hoyas looked unprepared for a 2-3 Gator zone, and settled for a number of (particularly, given in the conditions) inadvisable oustide shots. Lubick forced a number of passes that resulted in turnovers, while sophomore center Mikael Hopkins, while showing confidence in his post moves, found several blocked or stripped by Gator defenders.
Ultimately, though, the story of this game was the on-court conditions, and the cancellation. (Well, that, and the insane camera angles used by NBC Sports Network.) My armchair view suggested that proceeding with the second half would have been treacherous at best, reckless at worst. In those conditions, JTIII and Billy Donovan made the right choice to cancel the game. (The NBC announcers claimed that the referee had the last word on proceeding with the second half, but it seemed that the coaches made the ultimate decision.)
Reportedly the official word is that the game is a no contest, meaning that the game won't count as a Hoya loss.
Georgetown is back in action Sunday, indoors, against Duquesne, a competent middle-of-the-road Atlantic 10 squad. Coverage of that game follows tomorrow.