Beyond the ACCtion: 11/11/11 Event More Than A Game

Nov. 12, 2011

Beyond the ACCtion“Beyond the ACCtion” is a special feature of which offers insight in to the Atlantic Coast Conference, away from the field of competition.

Today, ACC Associate Commissioner Karl Hicks reflects on his experience aboard the USS Carl Vinson for the Carrier Classic on 11/11/11.

 Photo Gallery of candid shots by Karl Hicks

The 11/11/11 North Carolina vs. Michigan State men's basketball game played on Veteran's Day aboard the USS Carl Vinson was significant for many reasons, most having nothing to do with basketball. Aside from a cornucopia of military, political and sports VIPs on the deck of an awe-inspiring one thousand foot aircraft carrier, the clarion call of the day's specialness (at least for me) was standing with the rest of those in attendance as Air Force One circled the ship and landed on an adjacent airfield. If it wasn't apparent before, it was then -- this was about a lot more than a basketball game.

The game tipped approximately 40 minutes late to accommodate Presidential visits with both teams, but no one seemed to mind. When the President and First Lady strolled onto the court to cheers just prior to the playing of the National Anthem I was struck by the setting's intimacy -- I felt a part of it (I'd joined Commissioner Swofford about six rows back behind a break between two-to-three rows of courtside seats where the President and First Lady sat). And so with actor/director Peter Berg to our left, Senator Kay Hagen in front and the Big Ten's Jim Delaney and the NCAA's Mark Emmert to our immediate and not-too-distant right, the game began.

As expected, it was sloppy early, but over the course of the next 40 minutes of action a few themes emerged that I suspect we'll be talking about come March: (1) Harrison Barnes is good...real good; (2) Draymond Green is MSU's best player, but if and when MSU's Adreian Payne wakes up, look out Big Ten...kid's a monster; (3) in order for MSU to take the next step it will need stronger and more aggressive play from the 2-3 spot; (3) James Michael McAdoo and PJ Hairston look to be major contributors -- one's a mobile stud down low and the other has one of the prettiest strokes you'll see; (4) Jon Henson is a game changer; and, lastly (5) despite three quality outside threats in Barnes, Hairston and Bullock the Tar Heels are at their best when they are getting up and down the floor (Strickland in particular) -- their bigs transition well so misses are quickly followed and they get tons of easy looks...sound familiar?

I know I know...I spoke at length about the specialness of the day (and it was) but in the end it's the basketball that gets me juiced!

Karl Hicks
ACC Associate Commissioner for Men's Basketball