Photo by Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports/btn.com
Posted by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Tommy Parrill (DearTommy)
I have decided that from now until the end of time, every Friday blog posting will be known as a Free for All Friday. What that means is, I get to find one topic in the sports world that really gets my knickers in a knot, and I get to rant about it. One of my favorite things to do is bitch about things that I am passionate about, and the topic for the first Free for All Friday couldn’t be more fitting.
Like most college basketball fans, I have been watching Big Ten basketball all season long, and as I have stated in previous blog posts, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. From the likes of Trey Burke and Brandon Paul, to Cody Zeller and Deshaun Thomas, the talent and the competition in the Big Ten this season was unreal. As I watched game after game, it seemed obvious that Ohio State’s Aaron Craft was going to repeat as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He struggled a bit on offense this season, which is to be expected with the loss of Jared Sullinger, but in terms of defense, he was, and is the best. Or is he...? When the Big Ten awards were announced this Monday, everything was falling in line. Trey Burke was named Big Ten Player of the Year, Gary Harris of Michigan State was the Freshman of the Year, my dude Will Sheehey from Indiana was named Sixth Man of the Year, and Bo Ryan was named Coach of the Year. Everything was making perfect sense, and then I thought I saw a typo. The 2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year goes to……….Victor Oladipo? I really thought that the Big Ten website had made a mistake, but I was wrong. Aaron Craft did make second team All-Big Ten, and shout out to him for that. Yet it makes no sense how the most annoying defensive player in the country didn't get the best defensive player award for the conference.
Now understand this. I am taking nothing away from Victor Oladipo of Indiana. He might have been my favorite player to watch all season long in any conference. I would love to have a Victor Oladipo on my team and I believe that his hustle and talents will translate over to the NBA without a doubt. But when it comes down to the best DEFENSIVE player in the Big Ten, Craft has the ability to frustrate you and force turnovers every trip down the court. Making him a clear choice. As I was listening to some sports talk radio this week, a comment was said that cleared up all of this confusion. When Victor Oladipo plays defense, it looks sexy, but when Aaron Craft is on defense, it looks ugly. Whether people mean to or not, they will ALWAYS choose sexy over ugly. For Craft, that sucks (luckily, I have no such problem...ladies). You either love his style or hate it, because knowing that he is at a disadvantage athletically to the rest of the players, he has to work even harder and give 110% every night. It is because of this that Craft is the most hated college basketball player in America. When I first read the article out of ESPN, about the Michigan student who hates Aaron Craft because of certain racial reasons, I couldn't believe it. Craft doesn't fit the bill of a typical basketball player (size, height, athleticism), and because of that, you would feel that people would respect him for his accomplishments on and off the court. However, that isn't the case. If you aren't a Buckeye fan, you apparently see right through the rosy red cheeks, and see Craft for the annoyingly good defender and basketball player that he is.
Whether you like Craft or not, that is your choice. He at least deserves your respect. His hard work, determination and no quit attitude are all examples of his personality, which translates to his defensive ability on the court. As the Buckeyes continue their their quest through the Big Ten tournament and hopefully the NCAA dance, it will be the scrapper assassin pissing off and frustrating the opposition all the way through March. So give him a little love, as he is DESERVING of the Big Ten Defensive POY, and most importantly, long live Craft.