Everyone needs a David Lighty. And if you don’t have one, well, good luck.
The Ohio State senior’s always been a valuable asset for coach Thad Matta because of his versatility and willingness to do just about anything to help the Buckeyes win. Guard the top scoring threat? Sure. Make the hustle plays? You bet. Play out of position when needed? No sweat.
“To be a good team, you have to have all the parts. If you’re selfish, the team can’t win. For me to do the dirty work, I’m happy to do it,” he told Mike DeCourcy last season.
But this season’s been another story.
Now’s when the guy making all the hustle plays is stepping into the spotlight.
Despite freshman Jared Sullinger grabbing the headlines, Lighty’s the guy who usually earns plaudits from opposing coaches. It was true back in December, and it’s still true. Illinois coach Bruce Weber said as much after Ohio State’s 89-70 won Tuesday night.
“I’ve said since the beginning: I love him,” Weber said. “I think he’s the MVP. He probably won’t get it because people aren’t smart enough. But he’s their heart and soul.”
In fact, if Weber could pinpoint the biggest problem with his 17-11 team, it’s that there’s no Lighty on his roster.
“If you have a Lighty, a heart and soul who comes every day and does what you need. We just don’t have that toughness, that leadership — that difference-maker,” Weber said.
It was easy to see Tuesday. Lighty scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, 13 of which came in a remarkable 3-minite span.
“They should put a statue in front of the [Ohio State’s] Schottenstein Center of David Lighty, just what he’s meant to this program, not only on the court,” Matta said. “His performance there in the second half was high level. I looked out there (and) it was like he was everywhere.”
Do yourself a favor coaches. Go get yourself a Lighty.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.