The uniqueness of the season-opening game between Michigan State and North Carolina on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson does come with some concern about how the teams will play outdoors on an aircraft carrier. Will the warship sway? What about the wind conditions?
According to USA Today, event coordinators are confident that game conditions won't be affected too much despite the musings of a high-profile player like North Carolina's Tyler Zeller, who already has it in his head that he might feel differently while playing on an aircraft carrier.
"You'd think it's going to move," Zeller said. "It perplexes me how we're going to do it. I can't even fathom how big it is."
The carrier takes up 4½ acres, according to Naval Forces public affairs officer Lt. Patrick Foughty. And players shouldn't worry about feeling movement, Foughty added.
"When you're on a carrier, it's important you don't feel a thing. It would take a tsunami to make it rock."
Windbreaks will be erected to prevent a blustery day from affecting the game too much, said Mike Whalen of Morale Entertainment Foundation, the game's founder. The perimeter of the seating area will be wrapped by a mesh material "that makes it like a cocoon," Whalen said.
Certainly the game is a headline-grabbing event that draws two big-name programs while supporting the troops. It's also going to be interesting to see how players unaccustomed to playing organized basketball outdoors might be affected even by the idea that the conditions could change. It's a big unknown how a player might react after missing his first shot. Do you blame it on the wind or yourself?
Even in early November, this game is a very important one especially if Michigan State can pull off the upset. Either way, this should be an even playing field. Everyone will deal with the elements, and how they adjust mentally could make a difference.