Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team will launch its 2012-2013 season Nov. 9 at the Carrier Classic game against Marquette. The season opener, which will be played onboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., will likely provide a rare experience for the Buckeyes.
“It’s going to be dark, there’s definitely going to be some wind,” said junior point guard Aaron Craft. “It’s going to be fun though.”
The Carrier Classic was inaugurated last year to honor America’s military. Proceeds are donated to charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project and tickets were made available for veterans and members of the armed forces.
“It means a lot to our team to be invited to play in front of the military guys,” said junior forward Deshaun Thomas. “That’s what it’s all about. The stuff that they did for us, fighting over there. It’s just motivation to play for them and go out there and play our best.”
To play its best, OSU will have to overcome more than just a Marquette team that Thomas called “physical,” but also an unfamiliar environment.
“I mean, it’s going to be different,” said Thomas, who voiced concern about falling into the ocean while diving for a loose ball. “I’m going to try to stay away from the edge a little bit.”
In all likelihood, Thomas and the Buckeyes shouldn’t worry about going overboard. Bleachers surround the basketball court and the ship is docked.
Coach Thad Matta said that he thinks his team will be surprised with the environment onboard the USS Yorktown, indicating that it might not exactly meet their expectations.
“I think that they’ll be shocked with what they see, the normalcy of it,” Matta said.
One thing that the Buckeyes should account for in an outdoor game is wind, which could make shooting more difficult.
In last year’s Carrier Classic, which saw North Carolina defeat Michigan State, 67-55, the Spartans struggled from the three-point range. MSU connected on 2-20 of their three-point attempts, while making a little more than 30 percent of their shots from the floor.
Craft said that he isn’t worried about the wind, noting “anything that’s kind of out of the ordinary, or any type of adversity,” affects both teams.
The junior also pointed out that the Buckeyes might have the perfect player for an outdoor game.
“One thing I know is if someone can find a way to shoot the ball through the wind, it’s going to be my guy right here,” said Craft while pointing at a grinning Thomas. “He’ll find a way to put the ball in the basket.”
“I can shoot through anything,” Thomas said. “You’re going to see some jumpers going in.”