JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes there is condensation.
In an unusual ending to a game played in an unusual place, the men’s basketball team’s season opener against No. 10 Florida aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla. was cancelled prior to the start of the second half because of unsafe conditions caused by condensation on the court.
“First and foremost is our guys’ safety,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “This would have been really dangerous. You couldn’t play in these conditions.”
The teams played the first half without moisture issues, but Head Coach John Thompson III said that the court was wet Thursday during the Hoyas’ shoot-around. Event staff mopped the floor Friday before tip-off and during timeouts in the first half, but Georgetown players noted upon their return to the court for second-half warmups that many areas of the floor were damp and slippery.
Players from both teams joined staff in an attempt to dry the court during halftime, but Thompson and Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan expressed concerns about the conditions to game officials. A few minutes after an announcement that the second half would be played following a brief warmup, Thompson and Donovan addressed the crowd from midcourt to explain that the game had been cancelled.
“Everyone was in agreement, both coaches, the officials,” Thompson said. “It just didn’t make sense [to play].”
The Gators led the Hoyas, 27-23, after one half, but the game counts as a no-contest and does not affect the teams’ win-loss records.
No. 4 Ohio State and Marquette had been scheduled to play a game on the USS Yorktown in South Carolina earlier in the day, but that contest was cancelled before tip-off because of similarly dangerous playing conditions also resulting from condensation.
In the 20 minutes of basketball that Georgetown and Florida did play, the Hoyas’ frontcourt carried the scoring load. Junior forward Nate Lubick knocked down a three-point field goal to give the Blue and Gray their first points of the season and notched the team’s first seven points overall, and sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., the only Hoya to play the entire first half, also scored seven. Greg Whittington had four points and four rebounds, and Lubick and Porter each contributed two boards.
The Hoyas’ returning guards failed to shine on the offensive end. Junior Markel Starks struggled, going 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc, and sophomore Jabril Trawick missed both of his attempts in just five minutes of play. Freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera made his presence known in the eight minutes of his Georgetown debut, though, hitting a three-pointer and tallying two assists, including a sharp entry pass to Lubick that resulted in an easy basket with the shot clock winding down. The three guards took good care of the ball, even against an occasional Florida press, combining for no turnovers in the first half.
Thompson noted that the Hoyas played on the perimeter more than they wanted to. Georgetown took 28 first-half shots, 13 of which were three-point attempts, and never made it to the free throw line. The Blue and Gray converted only three tries from beyond the arc but were 7-for-15 on two-point attempts.
“They had us playing side to side too much instead of north to south,” Thompson said. “If I had to say the biggest concern or biggest thing I thought we needed to address was just not getting the ball inside enough.”
Florida was 10-for-22 from the field but was often far from the basket as well, taking 10 three-pointers and making only three of them. Still, when the Gators got the ball to their big men, senior forward-center Erik Murphy, junior center Patric Young and junior forward Will Yeguete were highly efficient. The three combined to shoot 7-for-11 from the field with 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and only one turnover.
Both teams went through sloppy stretches on offense, but Georgetown won the turnover battle, 8-6, and forced senior guard Kenny Boynton alone into four turnovers. Boynton acted as the Gators’ primary ballhandler after starting junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin was suspended indefinitely by the team for undisclosed reasons.
Sophomore forward Mikael Hopkins played 10 minutes and went 0-for-3 shooting with four rebounds. Rounding out the Hoyas who saw playing time, freshman forward Stephen Domingo and junior center Moses Ayegba were on the floor for four minutes and one minute, respectively.
Thompson recognized that the cancelation of the game as well as issues with other contests played on naval ships around the country might have highlighted a flaw in the event model, but he said that Georgetown would continue to be a proponent of games played to honor the military.
“Outdoors on the water may not be the best idea,” he said. “But if we get the privilege to perform in front of our servicemen, we will do that any and every time we have the opportunity to. This is something that we absolutely look forward to participating in.”