Tag: Aaron Craft

Vee Sanford

Vee Sanford answers Aaron Craft as Dayton beats Ohio State (VIDEO)


Now that’s how you kick off the big dance!

Vee Sanford answered Aaron Craft’s tough, falling layup with a runner of his own and Craft’s potential game-winner bounced off the backboard and the front of the rim as No. 11 Dayton advanced past No. 6 Ohio State, 60-59.

Sanford, a senior point guard, finished with 10 points off the bench while Dyshawn Pierre, who hit three huge free throws with 25 seconds left, led the way with 12 points and eight boards. With the win the Flyers will advance to face the winner of No. 3 Syracuse and No. 14 Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon, and whoever they end up playing, Dayton will have a chance to beat. They’re tough, they defend, they’re balanced offensively and they have one of the nation’s best young coaches in Archie Miller.

Speaking of Miller, it will be interesting to see what happens with him this offseason. He comes from a great coaching background — his older brother is Arizona head coach Sean Miller, he worked under Thad Matta for a couple of years — and he’s done an awesome job with the Flyers this season. They weren’t expected to be contending for a tournament berth this season, yet here they are, an at-large bid that knocked off in-state foe Ohio State and is now on the way to the Round of 32.

On the Ohio State side of things, this is the end of Craft’s career as a Buckeye, and he will be missed. Craft has spent the majority of his career being one of the most polarizing players in the country, but at the end of the day, he’s a terrific student and a terrific kid that played the game as hard as anyone in the country played. I guess I get the pushback against a media darling, especially a kid whose biggest strengths as an athlete are not as readily apparent as throwing down high-flying dunks or scoring bushels of buckets.

He was a leader, a facilitator, the nation’s best on-ball defender, a role model. He was an easy guy to root for, and it’s a shame that the way that his career had to end was a loss to Michigan, a loss to an in-state rival, getting beaten off the dribble by Vee Sanford and a missed shot of his own at the other end.

He’ll be missed.

Big Ten Tournament: Flailing Buckeyes overcome double-digit deficit, shock Nebraska

Della valle

Ohio State looked beaten. With roughly thirteen minutes remaining the second half, the Buckeyes were losing by eighteen points and appeared as if they would rather be anywhere other than Indianapolis. The squad was teetering: too proud to lay down and allow Nebraska, one of the nation’s hottest teams, to finish the steamroll, but uncertain if it was worth fighting back. OSU slowly began to chip away, however, and the lead, decreasing minute by minute, evaporated until OSU took the lead with sixty seconds remaining. Ohio State’s rebirth was complete — the Buckeyes escaped the quarterfinals, defeating the Cornhuskers 71-67.

Making their move midway through the second half, the Ohio State win was a combination of traditionally stout Buckeye defense and a complete breakdown of Nebraska’s offense. Tim Miles’ team scored .99 points per possession in the first half, but that rating dropped to .92 in the final twenty minutes; rather than continue attacking their OSU defenders and getting to the basket, NU started settling for long-range attempts (of which they converted only 30 percent), a puzzling strategy since it’s been proven that Nebraska’s outside shooting isn’t robust (32.9 percent in Big Ten play). The moment which encapsulated NU’s offensive timidity came after Walter Pitchford rose for an ally-oop but missed the attempted reverse dunk — Nebraska converted only two shots from the field following the failed dunk.

LaQuinton Ross was the hero of the stat sheet, scoring 26 points on a variety of mid-range jumpers, but the Buckeye who deserves credit for sparking the comeback, and one who clearly enjoys playing Nebraska, is Amedeo Della Valle. The lanky wing, sporting a hairdo that rivals Bradley Cooper’s ‘American Hustle’ character, had previously scored a season-high 15 versus NU, and followed that effort with twelve points today. The sophomore barely played last season, but after a successful summer leading Italy to the U20 European Championship (earning an MVP nod for his efforts), it is evident the wing’s frenetic offense and fearlessness when in the open court could earn him more minutes.

Don’t mess with Aaron Craft’s memory

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Matta talks with guard Craft in the second half against the Wichita State Shockers during their West Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Los Angeles

Though Aaron Craft is a nutrition major with plans to pursue a medical career once he leaves Columbus, the Ohio State senior guard should have perhaps been a math major. Today, March 14, is Pi Day, a day to celebrate William Jones (who invented the universally used ratio) and math in general, and Craft’s method of celebration is to unveil his outstanding memory and recite a snippet of Pi.

I love Craft’s cockiness as he is being filmed. You can tell Craft likely had to remember this number for some long-ago middle school test, and is so confident with his memory, saying, “That is extremely accurate. I don’t even think you have to check that.” Perhaps this attention to detail helped in Craft’s transformation as one of the nation’s best on-ball defenders, using his mnemonic skills to catalog each opponents’ offensive tendencies and how to most effectively derail their scoring.