With the USF SunDome undergoing renovation, our intrepid basketball reporter will follow the South Florida basketball team around the USF campus this season, as the team plays its games in different buildings across the campus. Check back after each home game for updates (hopefully).
St. Petersburg - USF had four players scoring in double figures as the Bulls downed the Florida Atlantic Owls 68-55 on Saturday aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Alligator docked at the USF-St. Petersburg College of Marine Science
Florida Governor Rick Scott was on hand as guest of honor, and threw the honorary tip-off. Gov. Scott referenced the Carrier Classic, a game earlier this month between North Carolina and Michigan State played on an aircraft carrier in San Diego.
"We saw what they did in San Diego a couple weeks back, so we thought this would be a great chance to showcase the two of our state universities," said Gov. Scott.
"We figured that since FAU has 'Atlantic' in their name, that our opponents would be right at home on the water," said USF athletic director Doug Wollard.
However, due to state budget shortfalls, and the shallowness of the marina at USF-St. Pete, an aircraft carrier was not deemed feasible. Instead, Scott chose the CGC Alligator, a Coast Guard Cutter based nearby at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.
Since the CGC Alligator is only 87 feet long, and the regulation court is 94 feet, it was decided to configure the court perpendicular to the ship, across its deck at bow, with the ends of the court hovering over the water. The benches were located on temporary seating affixed to pontoons at either end of the court, while the 2109 fans in attendance sat on shore.
Forwards Tolaryn Fitzpatrick and Ron Anderson each contributed double-doubles to the Bulls' effort.
Anderson was a game-time decision because of his fear of open water due to his inability to swim. However, coach Stan Heath suggested he wear plastic floaties throughout the game, and Anderson came through with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"There's nothing in the rule-book outlawing floaties," said coach Heath.
"They gave me a lot of confidence," said Anderson. His protective armor aided him in collecting six rebounds on the offensive end.
Anderson and Anthony Collins were the only two Bulls to shoot over 50% for the game as the ship's swaying reeked havoc with both teams shooting.
"I'm on a boat!," Collins added.
Fitzpatrick shot 3-4 on three-pointers, but only 3-8 inside the three-point line.
"I found that when everyone was on one side of of the court, the ship would lean," said Fitzpatrick, "so I just starting taking three-pointers in transition and things worked out."
Despite the aquatic venue, Florida Atlantic shot only 37% from the field.
"We did a poor job of representing our ocean today," said Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis.