NCAA Tournament – Day One Diary – Aaron Craft’s Career Over; Colorado and American Bludgeoned

by Kent Sterling

UnknownCollege basketball won’t be the same without Aaron Craft.  Love him or hate him, during his four seasons of being a defensive pest for Thad Matta’s Ohio State Buckeyes, he left a deep impression.

The way the Buckeyes bowed out to Dayton was kind of fitting in that the game was in Craft’s hands – twice.  On the defensive end, Craft couldn’t stop Vee Sanford’s drive to the bucket to take a one-point lead with a few seconds left, and then he couldn’t convert a hurried drive on the other end that could have won it.

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Many fans not only can’t stand Craft, but they will transfer their loathing to those who do enjoy watching him play.  I love the guy.  He puts on a defensive clinic every possession, and is consistently a pain in the ass to play against.  Can’t shoot it, but he has done a lot without so much.

The highest compliment an opposing player can pay is, “I hated playing against that guy.”  For four years, a lot of Big Ten guards said that.


Cincinnati was called for a technical early in their game against Harvard when a player reported who was not listed in the scorer’s book.  Before every game, a representative of each team logs the numbers and names of every player who might play.  If someone reports for a substitution but isn’t listed, that results in a technical against the bench.

Generally, schools have a failsafe system so that doesn’t happen, but Cincinnati failed.  When I helped with my son’s fifth grade team, I would write the names and numbers, and then watch the kids warm up, and check off the kids as they went past.

You could watch basketball at any level for a long time and never see that that technical called.  Harvard made one of the two free throws, so the call might be moot in the end, but if Harvard wins by a point, someone needs to be fired.


I feel horrible for the teams that get totally pantsed in the first round of the tournament.  So much work and hope invested, and WHAM – it’s game over early.

American University took a 17-10 lead over the #2 seed Wisconsin Badgers with 9:50 left in the first half.  At that point, Wisconsin became engaged, or Bo Ryan engaged them,  Regardless, from that point forward, Wisconsin beat American 65-18 to win 75-35.

As I write, Pitt is beating up on Colorado 65-36 early in the second half.  In a single elimination tournament, to be smoked with prejudice like that is difficult for the constitution.  When pride is all there is to play for as the clock runs out on a season, kids earn their minutes.

That’s especially true in a game between eight and nine seeds like Colorado and Pittsburgh.  The game was supposed to be close, but Pitt came with an early flurry to remove all doubt.  With 6:00 left in the first half, the score was 33-9.

Sad way to end a career.


The games continue, and I’m rooting like hell for the Harvard Crimson.  The bar tending has been blathering about the greatness of Cincinnati from the time I sat down.  I’m not so much a fan of Harvard as much as I’m a fan of this guy shutting up.

2 thoughts on “NCAA Tournament – Day One Diary – Aaron Craft’s Career Over; Colorado and American Bludgeoned

  1. Philboyd Studge

    Kent — It may be too late, but since all 10 Indiana basketball programs missed the NCAA tournament and, I think, the NIT, they should hold their own three-day tournament at the Butler Fieldhouse. Call it the Hoosier Invitational.

    A potential banner to hang in there for a coach with that predilection, if you get my drift.

    I’m guessing it would be a Ball State–Evansville final. But, truly, anything could happen.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I like your entrepreneurial spirit. We can throw in the 13 Illinois D1 programs who were left out of the NCAAs, although Illinois is still alive in the NIT.

      Indiana State played in the NIT, and was eliminated at Arkansas, so their schedule has loosened.


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