College hoops set to tip off on carrier
The North Carolina Tar Heels practice on the USS Carl Vinson on Thursday.
November 11th, 2011
06:30 AM ET

College hoops set to tip off on carrier

No water from the sky means there will be college basketball on the water Friday evening in San Diego.

Well, technically not on the water but several stories above it on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

Organizers said Thursday that rain moving toward the San Diego area would not come until Saturday, meaning the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, pitting the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Michigan State Spartans, could be played on a court constructed on the carrier's flight deck.

"Right now, everything is all go for up here on the flight deck," Bob Mazza, an organizer of the event, said in a report on CNN-affliate KFMB-TV.

A 7,000-seat arena has been built on the flight deck for the invited spectators, mostly members of the military. President Obama is also expected to attend. The general public will have to be content with watching on ESPN, beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Teams practiced on the court Thursday, and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo wasn't concerned about the weather, according to an report.

“We’re playing here. It will be this nice. It’s beautiful," Izzo said of the setting dockside at the San Diego Naval Base.

Just in case Mother Nature has a change of heart, a 2,000-seat backup court was set up in the carrier's hangar deck.

The game is being put on at no cost to taxpayers by the Morale Entertainment Foundation, which "brings the 'Best of America' overseas to lift the spirits of our brave men and women who are fighting for our freedoms downrange," according to its website.

Of course, while the game may be a morale booster for some of the 7,000 who get to watch it in person, the Navy reaps another benefit, too - two-plus hours of prime-time exposure of one of its elite warships.

Mike Whalen of Morale Entertainment told that he wants to make the game an annual Veterans Day event.

Game helps salute military's sacrifice

“Veterans Day, for me, always has been an orphan holiday. You don’t really know what to do. Some of you get a day off. Some of you watch a politician lay a wreath. We’re looking at this to be a little different, a celebration of service,” he is quoted as saying.

It will be the second time for the Vinson to make big news this year. It was the ship from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea after he was killed in a raid by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May.

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Filed under: Basketball • California • College basketball • Military • U.S. Navy
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Ron

    That is just absolutely freakin COOL!

    November 11, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kordax

    A friend of mine has two tickets for this game. Currently selling them online for $3,000 each with many potential buyers. It would be a cool game to attend but passing up $6,000 for tickets he got for free, no way.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dan in Atlanta

    Kind of ironic that so much money is being spent to put the spotlight on a handful of fit and able young men who will never sacrifice a few years of their careers in service to our nation, but will reap only the benefits that the military protection provides. Our veterans deserve a better tribute than another few hours of meaningless sports entertainment that supports a system that is totally selfish and is the exact opposite of what military service demands and represents.

    November 11, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Kordax

      But it promotes the military to individuals out there who might not consider it otherwise. Also, it provides a source of entertainment for those who have already served this country so maybe we should take the focus off of what it isn't doing and focus more on what it is doing.

      November 11, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Meaningless sports entertainment? I am sorry but just because it is meaningless to you doesn't mean that it doesn't mean something to others. If you aren't a fan thats fine but dont act like this isnt important to people INCLUDING veterans. In addition, there are plenty of student athletes from all colleges that have served or will serve. There may actually be some athletes on the team who have done a tour in a war zone. I know many students who go back to school after serving or are even in the reserves who are active members of college sports programs.

      You are the definition of ignorant.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Just to clarify my comment is directed at Mr. Holier than Thou Know it All "Dan in Atlanta".

      November 11, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Brasky

      According to the news outlets the sailors on board the Carl Vinson were offered leave, and most chose to stay and watch meaningless entertainment. So most are quite excited over this game and is not meaningless entertainment to them. To you, perhaps.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Teresa

      Well Dan in Atlanta, just because you don't like college athletics does not mean veterans don't. As a veteran, married to a veteran we would have loved to seen the game in person. Instead we were happy to see ESPN was carrying it. Since you obviously are not a veteran or a sports enthusiast kindly keep your comments to yourself, Oh wait, I fought so you could have your opinion and post it for all to see. Oops, my bad.

      November 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    The official tipoff to college basketball will be played on the USS Vinson, the same ship that buried Bin Laden at sea and will be aired on ESPN tonight, Veterans Day. While there may never be an end to terrorism in it's totality, the symbolism here is pretty awesome! Happy Veterans Day!

    November 11, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Brasky

      I believe this game was planned on the Carl Vinson long before Osama Bin Laden was buried by sea there. it is great symbolism though.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. joeinalabama

    All we need BO and another basketball game, sounds more like a campaign event to me, most likely won't do anything except campaign until after the next election, his job 1 is to get re-elected.

    November 11, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Ugh....its a well known fact he is a basketball fanatic. Wow.

      November 11, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. mscott


    November 11, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat ( in a hat )

    Maybe they'll get some good wave action just one as of the wh ite players goes up for a dunk. Proving once and for all that white men CAN jump.

    November 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ADiff

    The NCAA is such a cynical scam.... I wonder how much revenue this touching dog and pony show is good any rate the labor is practically free anyway.....

    November 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I would like to see your sources. Oh wait. YOU HAVE NONE! SHUT UP.

      November 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. s kel

    Oh good wowwie I see your not able to jog and attempt to blog at the same time, probably much less chew gum and walk. And as far as calling that clown a neck?? Hell YES!!! I stand behind that statment! Are you one also???

    November 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. s kel

    ohhh forgive me "neck" its spelled statement.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. s kel

    I see wowie failed to read the other postings on here....just like a neck.

    November 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wowie

      s kel – you're an idiot. Have a nice day.

      November 12, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  12. spiT

    An over rated sport played by players paid too much and attended by OBAMA. Great.

    November 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. savannah

    I think its a good idea. I'm sure it was a welcome respite for the sailors on that ship. Thanks to the vets from all the branches of the armed forces! And LETS GO HEELS!

    November 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Trevor

    Dear Mr Wonderful. I actually lowballed the figure spent on recruitment. According to, which pulled data from the defense budget fro the 2010 fiscal year, the amount spent on recruitment was actually 6.2 billion U.S. dollars. I understand you probably listen closely to your republican and tea party heroes, but in the real world, when you say people make up their figures, actual figures will be provided.
    Dear Scratch, can we fill the military without this money? Write your congressman and let's find out!
    Dear Red Team, quit being a P.C. troll and get a handle on honesty. You undertand what I implied, but wanted to be a contrarian. Grow a spine.

    November 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
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