SAN DIEGO — Immediately after Michigan State's Branden Dawson limped to the bench after tweaking a knee when he slipped on the sticker covering the jump ball circle, North Carolina forward John Henson walked over to investigate that spot on the floor.
He summed it up like this when he returned to the Tar Heels bench: "It's a wet spot, pretty much."
Fortunately Dawson returned to the game soon afterward and no other players were hurt slipping at center court, but the incident revived talk that decals on the court advertising a sponsor put players' health at risk. Although both Michigan State's Tom Izzo and North Carolina's Roy Williams are aware that the money the stickers generate helps fund events like Friday night's Carrier Classic, they argue the slipperiness makes them too great a hazard.
"I've hated those things. I think they're stupid to put them out there with all the technology we he have," Williams said. "If we want to give somebody some publicity, put it on there on TV only and don't put the kids in danger of slipping and sliding."
The center-court decal at the Carrier Classic was especially treacherous because the damp ocean air made the entire court slick. It was one of several factors players had to adjust to as a result of playing outside, along with gusty winds that altered jump shots and a shooting backdrop unlike any other.
"These are circumstances that are obviously different from what we're used to," North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall said. "Your hands are cold on the court. There's a breeze. It's something you're not used to. We were telling them to wipe up the court, and they said, 'There's nothing we can do. You're playing outside.'
"We found a way to get through it. Both teams had to deal with the circumstances, and you can't really blame them on anybody."