ABOARD THE USS BATAAN — It was supposed to be a celebration of an American institution and a favorite pastime — the U.S. military and college basketball.
And for one half, it was.
But eventually, the one thing both Florida coach Billy Donovan and Georgetown coach John Thompson had expressed deep concern about before Friday night's Navy-Marine Corps Classic became reality.
With Florida leading 27-23 at halftime of the game played aboard the amphibious carrier USS Bataan at Mayport Naval Station near Jacksonville, the coaching staffs from both teams and the game's organizers agreed to not play the second half.
Extreme condensation on the makeshift court began in the first half, then worsened at halftime and as players warmed up before the second half was to start. The floor became too slippery to continue the game.
"It was slippery. I don't know where it came from," Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton said. "It was too slippery to play, for sure. I wish we could have finished. I'm definitely disappointed, but we've just got to regroup. We play Alabama State on Sunday, and we'll be ready. It was a great warmup."
An SEC official attending said the game will count as canceled and will not count in the standings for either team. Stats will also not be counted.
"Obviously we are very, very disappointed, ourself and Georgetown," Donovan told the crowd after the announcement the game would not continue. "We certainly want to play, but we don't want anybody hurt. We really, really appreciate everybody being out here supporting this event. If you were down here (on the court), you would have a realistic understanding of how slick it is and what kind of jeopardy these guys would be in."
The game was one of two on Naval ships Friday called off because of condensation. The Ohio State-Marquette game on the USS Yorktown off Charleston, S.C., was called earlier.
Both coaches in Jacksonville expressed concern about possible problems Thursday. Though there were a few slips early in the game, the issue became more serious later.
"I had no idea until we came out in the second half for warmups," Florida senior Erik Murphy said. "I didn't notice anything in the first half. I feel like playing helped make it bad, then the moisture gets worse as it gets later, I think."
Both coaches said they didn't want the cancellation to mar the spirit that was intended.
"I would like to say thank you to all the sailors for all you do for us, allowing us the freedom to play this game," Thompson said. "It's been an unbelievable experience, and the fact the game is ending doesn't take away from that."
"To our troops, men and women, we are very thankful," Donovan said. "This has been a great experience for our basketball team, and we appreciate everybody coming out."
Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]