Craft Works Smart

After a win against Michigan State, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said that his best teams have been the teams with the highest cumulative GPA.

Book smarts, it would seem, do translate on to the court.

Of course, when it comes to book smarts, Academic All-American Aaron Craft leaves a lot of us in the dust.

With that in mind, I wanted to compare Craft’s performances in games where he was seeing an opponent for the first time versus those where he has already seen the opponent.

So far OSU has played Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State twice.

Craft’s numbers in those games:

Nebraska (1): 0 points, 0/4 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 8 assists, 0 turnovers
Nebraska (2): 14 points, 4/12 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 6 assists, 2 turnovers

Michigan (1): 9 points, 3/9 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 4 assists, 2 turnovers
Michigan (2): 11 points, 5/12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, 2 turnovers

Wisconsin (1): 13 points, 5/11 shooting, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 assists, 4 turnovers
Wisconsin (2): 4 points, 2/9 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 assist, 0 turnovers

Michigan State (1):
5 points, 2/8 shooting, 1 rebound, 5 steals, 6 assists, 4 turnovers
Michigan State (2): 21 points, 7/12 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 6 assists, 2 turnovers

Totals (1): 27 points, 10/32 shooting (31%), 17 rebounds, 10 steals, 20 assists, 10 turnovers
Totals (2): 50 points, 18/45 shooting (40%), 17 rebounds, 6 steals, 14 assists, 6 turnovers

I’d bet that opposing point guards learn to avoid Craft after one battle with the defensive stalwart, explaining the slightly smaller numbers of steals. Otherwise, it does appear that Craft is being more aggressive the second time he sees a team and is making smart adjustments.

Crafty, indeed.

UPDATE: I was asked to do this for last year’s games, since this season provides such a small sample size. Here are those numbers from Big Ten regular season play…

Totals (1): 45 points, 18/34 shooting (53%), 19 rebounds, 10 steals, 18 assists, 15 turnovers

Totals (2): 57 points, 20/38 shooting (53%), 17 rebounds, 17 steals, 22 assists, 13 turnovers

*This does not include teams OSU faced twice as a result of postseason play. I thought regular season vs. tournament was an unfair comparison, but from glancing at those stats, I don’t believe the inclusion of postseason play would reverse the trend seen above.

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