A Shot Across the Bow

By Ron Donoho

Playing a basketball game on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego Bay has been done before.
This year, though, the matchup will be epic, as new NCAA championship contender San Diego State University
takes on perennial powerhouse Syracuse University in a November 9 season opener.

“This is really going to be a big deal,” says San Diego Hall of Champions/Sports Commission vice president
Angela Lachica.

Last year, North Carolina battled Michigan State in the Carrier Classic, a game played aboard the
active U.S.S. Carl Vinson. President Obama attended, and security was a bee-otch.

This year, in what is being billed as the “Battle of the Midway,” the Aztecs are playing the Orangemen aboard the U.S.S. Midway, a decommissioned carrier that currently serves as a downtown floating museum.

The silver-throated Dick Enberg (who announces everything from Padres games to Wimbledon), Steve Kerr and Erin Andrews are scheduled to hose the game, which will be televised nationally on Fox TV (5 p.m.).

This hoop-de-do is a ticket people will be scrambling to get their hands on, as organizers can build seating for only 4,000-5,000 fans on the carrier deck. Compare that capacity to SDSU ‘s on-campus Viejas Arena, which holds 12,414 for a basketball game.

Rick Schloss, a spokesperson for locally based Syndicus Entertainment, which is partnering with the San Diego Sports Commission on this Veteran’s Day weekend event, notes that if the outdoor game gets rained out, the contingency location is the Valley View Casino Center. The facility formerly known as the Sports Arena holds 14,500 for hoops.

So if you want a ticket, and you aren’t an SDSU or Syracuse booster or part of the military (they get first dibs), it’s a good time to start praying for rain.

Order on the court
How the teams are stacked up

Last season, both San Diego State University (26-8) and Syracuse (34-3) advanced into the NCAA’s March Madness tournament. This year, the Aztecs have retained four starters, including senior guard Chase Tapley. The teams have met only once before - the Orangemen won that game in 2007. Both coaches have won a national championship: Jim Boeheim in 2003 at Syracuse; Steve Fisher in 1989 at Michigan.

Here are the national rankings preseason pundits were giving the two teams in early October.

Poll: SDSU / SYRACUSE 16th / 11th
Sporting News 19th / 9th 22nd / 2nd
Sports Illustrated 23rd / 17th
ESPN/USA Today Coaches 30th / 5th