|The Carrier Classic was canceled on Friday because heavy condensation caused the court to become too slippery, which officials and coaches said jeopardized the players' safety. The game won't be rescheduled. (US Presswire)|
For Ohio State guard Aaron Craft, Friday's matchup against Marquette did not just provide an opportunity to open the season aboard an aircraft carrier -- it gave him the chance to honor his older brother who is set to return home from Afghanistan.
Craft could sense playing conditions were unsafe, though, when he watched a handful of Marquette players run through pregame drills Friday night on the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.
“I saw a couple Marquette players sliding from halfcourt to about the 3-point line without picking up their feet,” Craft said. “There were spurts where it would be alright, but then you'd catch another slippery spot.”
Officials canceled Friday's Carrier Classic between the No. 4 Buckeyes and Golden Eagles amid concerns for player safety. A large buildup of condensation off Charleston Harbor near the south end of the court created a surface officials deemed unplayable.
The start of the game was delayed twice as players from both teams worked feverishly to dry the court with towels. A collaborative decision among the schools, the officiating crew and event director Mike Whalen was reached at about 8 p.m. ET to cancel the event. Both teams are scheduled to play home games on Sunday, eliminating the possibility the game could be moved to Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State will face Albany in Columbus on Sunday afternoon, and Marquette is scheduled to take on Colgate.
Marquette F Jamil Wilson said there were no problems with the floor during warmups but that it became slick after the teams were introduced.
“When you stopped wiping it, it just slicked right back up,” Wilson said. “There was not much you could do about it.”
Without rain in the forecast, Whalen said there weren't any discussions to move the game indoors at The Citadel. Whalen is unsure if spectators will be refunded, but added that 85 percent of the tickets for the game were donated. A large contingent of servicemen and members of the Wounded Warrior project received free tickets for the game.
Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams indicated the circumstances surrounding the cancellation will not dissuade his program from considering similar events in the future.
“We'll play anywhere at any time for this type of event for this type of purpose,” Williams said. “It just didn't work out.”
A day before Ohio State's matchup vs. Syracuse in the East Regional final in March, Craft's brother Brandon was deployed to Afghanistan. The Army infantryman has spent the past eight months in the Mideast but is set to return home Nov. 17. Craft spoke with his older brother over the phone during the days leading to the classic.
“You don't think his mind has been in other places with his brother coming home now?” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “You knew it would have been important for him because he would have been playing for something bigger.”
Ohio State invited nine servicemen to the game, including six who had already served overseas. On Thursday night, eight of them sat in on the Buckeye's film session.
Williams, meanwhile, roamed the sidelines before the game wearing a USS Yorktown cap and army boots.
“The game was secondary,” Williams said. “Everybody wants to play, everybody wants to watch, everybody wants to coach, but on this night the game was secondary. I think the lessons learned leading up to this -- that's what it's supposed to be about.”
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