Thursday, October 11, 2012
Hoops 101: OSU, Craft report for practice
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick-hitters with the Ohio State basketball team, which hosted its media day on Thursday ahead of the first practice of the preseason.
Back on point: Aaron Craft hadn't taken two weeks off since he was in middle school, and if it had been solely up to him, that streak would still be alive.
The Bucks are hoping a healthier Aaron Craft can deliver more offense this season.
But surgery on his nagging ankle injury in June and the cast that was subsequently slapped on it kept the tireless Ohio State point guard off his feet and forced him to actually take a bit off time to rest his body over the summer. And while Craft recognized the value of that recovery time and admitted he came back rejuvenated, he still doesn't seem eager to take another vacation moving forward.
"I couldn’t do anything because I was in a cast, so that was very interesting and challenging for me, watching these guys work out and shoot and play," Craft said. "That was probably the toughest thing. Getting back, it was good for my entire body to take time off. I wouldn’t have done that on my own.
"I felt reenergized and ready to go when I got back, and ultimately it was probably the best thing for me."
The relentless junior has never been accused of running low on energy, and a fresher, healthier version of Craft could make life even more difficult for opponents battling the lockdown defender on the offensive end.
The Buckeyes are likely counting on him to provide a bit more scoring when they have the ball as well as they try to replace the production of Jared Sullinger and William Buford, and it certainly won't hurt if Craft doesn't have to spend much time this season limping from the pain that used to shoot through his ankle.
"The rest probably helped him," coach Thad Matta said. "He’s a guy that doesn’t like to take days off, when he’s in here he’s going 100 miles an hour. From that perspective, it’s probably good.
"I haven’t noticed [a change in his approach], what I have noticed is he doesn’t trip on his foot and then limp for the next minute. He seems to be perfectly fine."
Old hands: The Buckeyes aren't exactly loaded with seniors.
But they've got one more of those upperclassmen than they do freshmen with only one of the latter on the roster, which might actually qualify Ohio State as a veteran outfit. And that could make for a much smoother experience when the Buckeyes hit the practice court as a full unit on Friday.
"It’s very valuable," junior Deshaun Thomas said. "We all know what coach Matta wants out of us in practice, and we’ve got one freshmen, so the other guys should already know what he wants and what it takes to win.
"Coach Matta preaches toughness. Once you’re out there in a drill and you show him you’re doing it right, he’ll cut the drill short. Everybody on this team should know what he wants and give it their all. We don’t have to help a lot of freshmen pick it up and understand what to do, so everybody should know what’s expected tomorrow."
High five: Matta didn't tip his hand on a starting lineup, preferring instead to let practice play out and then go from there.
But it's no secret how he'll figure out that group when the time comes.
"I told them the other day, I’m going to start the five best defenders," Matta said. "I think from the standpoint of trying to get those guys to understand where I’m coming from, with what we have, I think we’ll have great depth this year.
"There’s a lot of quality out there, and I’m excited to see these guys compete in four-day increments as we’re getting ready to practice."