Navy-Marine Corps Classic 2012: Gators eager to meet veterans

J. Meric

Florida players consider it a privilege to meet the troops this week prior to the Navy-Marine Corps Classic.

The Florida Gators men's basketball team is anxious to meet the troops before the second annual Navy-Marine Corps Classic on Friday, says the Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon:

Florida coach Billy Donovan believes his players will develop a greater understanding of the sacrifice being made by the military to protect the country by seeing firsthand how many of the troops are the same age as the players.

The lesson is one the Gators are anxious to take in.

"This is a privilege for us to meet them," Florida senior guard Kenny Boynton said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I'm definitely looking forward to it."

The crowd of approximately 3,500 is expected to include 1,000 active soldiers, Carlyon wrote.

Florida will play Georgetown on Friday at 9 p.m. ET on a carrier ship off the coast of Florida. Both teams were expected to spend most of Thursday on the ship.

Both teams made the NCAA tournament last season. The Gators were an Elite Eight team, while the Hoyas were knocked out in the third round.

Florida is coming off a 26-11 season. The Gators were 10-6 in the the Southeastern Conference.

Georgetown went 24-9 overall last season. In the Big East, the Hoyas were 12-6.

After kicking off the season Friday against Georgetown, the Gators will return home for six straight home games. They'll host Alabama State on Sunday and No. 23 Wisconsin on Wednesday. Games against Middle Tennessee State, Savannah State, UCF and Marquette round out Florida's first seven games.

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