Was Hansbrough on the ground or the floor?

A reader takes us to task for this sentence in a sports story:

With 5:47 left at Louis Brown Athletic Center, UNC’s leading scorer and rebounder was trying to take a charge when he banged his head on a cameraman’s knee under the basket, and lay flat on the ground for several moments.

And farther down in the story:

“I would have got up earlier,” said Hansbrough, who was on the ground when Ndiaye dunked a putback to cut UNC’s lead to 77-56, “but they told me to stay down.”

The reader points out that Tyler Hansbrough was on the floor, not the ground. The reader said he’d seen this in our paper a lot. I haven’t had time to go look for other instances, but it’s not in our style guide to prefer “ground” over “floor” in a sports context. Indeed, Hansbrough was on the floor, not the ground.

I am just happy that we correctly used “lay” (the past tense of “lie”).

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.