Today, I watched The Aaron Craft Show (season 4, ep. 25) also known as any Ohio State basketball game on national TV. Every time Ohio State ends up on ABC or ESPN, the announcers fall over each other for the chance to honor him verbally. And they can’t stop showing his pretty-boy face on the screen whenever they can.
This is the 6th or 7th time I’ve watched an Ohio State game on national TV since Craft arrived, and the last four have been nothing short of a love fest for the 6-2 guard. It’s like the announcers get a $20 bill every time they mention his name.
Aaron Craft Aaron Craft Aaron Craft
First off, I have nothing against Aaron Craft – he’s a heady, pass-first point guard that plays tough, hard-nosed defense and is one of the leaders of the team. I can get behind that, but there’s nothing so spectacular about him that warrants the amount of coverage he receives.
Ok, Craft gets a lot of steals per game. At 2.6 this season, he ranks #9 in the NCAA and is the all-time leader at Ohio State.
Outside of that? You would think that all the facetime he gets, Craft would be outstanding at something else except at being a ballhawk on defense.
It’s not like Craft shoots efficiently from the field to the point of highlighting it (47%), his assists numbers lead the team but aren’t mind blowing (4.8), he’s not even that great a free-throw shooter (74%), and he’s definitely not a scorer (9.8 points).
So, please tell me what’s the deal, but don’t say intangibles. There’s never been a player that gets that much public recognition on just intangibles alone. Generally, it’s coupled with other exceptional qualities or out-of-this-world talent.
He’s So Bad, He’s Good
Against Michigan last night, Craft was mentioned all throughout the second half. His boxscore? 8 points, 3-6 shooting, 0-2 from three, 2-2 from free throw line, 1 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, and 2 turnovers in 37 minutes of play.
Defensively, Craft was tasked to keep up with Michigan’s leading scorer Nik Stauskas. Stauskas ultimately scored a team-high 15 points on 9 shots, and was 3-6 from the field when Craft was guarding him – meaning that Stauskas had the majority of his points on Craft and was 1-3 against other Ohio State defenders.
Given it’s a small sample, and it’s a team’s job to contain the other team’s primary scorer, but I’m highlighting this because the way the announcers were talking up Craft’s defense, even in the face of statistics that said otherwise. I had to point it out.
The (not so) funny thing? The announcers said that Craft was doing a good job still. Maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t – but there are more accurate ways to communicate the above graphic without mentioning Craft in a positive light.
How about the Michigan players were doing a good job getting Stauskas open? Or Stauskas was taking advantage of every opportunity? Or Ohio State has to do a better job helping out on defense?
No. It was “Look at the average distance that Stauskas has had to shoot the ball against Craft. I think Craft has done a pretty good job. And against others, Stauskas can get to the rim and you see 4 feet average, without Craft.“
Seriously. That was said. Need I remind you that Stauskas is known for his three-point shooting?
And on the offensive end, Michigan was playing off Craft the entire second-half; daring him to shoot the ball from the outside. And when Craft finally decided to take an uncontested three (in which his defender Derrick Walton Jr. was purposely 5 or 6 feet away from him), Craft air balled it at a critical juncture of the game. That play all but deflated his Buckeye team.
By the way, Ohio State’s LaQuinton Ross had a team-high 24 points and lead the team with 7 rebounds, also in 37 minutes. Ross looked unstoppable at times, but you wouldn’t know that if you listened to the announcers.
The only time the announcers really discussed Ross, or Walton Jr. (who played spectacularly for Michigan with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assist) was when they forced the broadcast team to put their Aaron Craft Show script down.
I would love to see how much actual time was spent talking about Craft vs. Ross last night. I bet it’s not even close.
All I am saying is to stop putting Aaron Craft on a pedestal because he’s white. There are 9 other players on the court. It’s plainly obvious and actually really unfair to Craft, who is just trying to play basketball.
And to those of you that say “you’re being sensitive”, watch an Ohio State game on national television and get back to me.
Actually, don’t bother. You won’t convince me otherwise.