Some Big Blue Links for a Wednesday:
CRAFTY OHIO STATE — Morehead coach Donnie Tyndall tells Jerry Tipton of the H-L that Ohio State is a very complete team. “The only question mark they possibly could have is point guard play,” Tyndall said. “Craft reminds me of a poor man’s Bobby Hurley. He’s tough, heady. He’s probably much better than people give him credit for.”
Of course, Kentucky has a freshman point guard of its own in Brandon Knight. The fluid Floridian went from a two-point game against Princeton to a 30-point explosion against West Virginia. But Ohio State coach Thad Matta sees a lot of similarities in Craft. “It’s very advantageous to have a guy who thinks the way he thinks,” the Ohio State coach said. “The other thing you can’t ever lose sight of is he’s a competitor, and he’s a winner. He’s going to do whatever needs to be done. He’s going to study and watch film and scouting (reports) to gain every advantage to help him in the course of the game.”
Remember, Craft was the prospect involved in the allegation that led to Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl lying to the NCAA about a picture that was taken in Pearl’s home.
He also had 15 assists and two turnovers in that Sunday night slamming of poor George Mason.
– Big-time situations don’t rattle Craft, writes Matt Markey of the Toledo Blade.
– UK has lots of worries for Ohio State head coach, writes Larry Vaught of the Danville Advocate Messenger.
– John Calipari and Matta are two-of-a-kind when it comes to one-and-done, writes Brett Dawson of the Courier-Journal.
– Calipari has mastering molding freshmen talent, writes Zach Berman of the Newark Star-Ledger.
– Ohio State’s easy road is over, writes Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.
DEFENDING THE BUCKEYES –– Rick Bozich of the Courier-Journal writes that holding down Ohio State won’t be easy. He talks to South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn, who played the Buckeyes earlier in the year. Three is the conundrum of whether to guard Jared Sullinger inside and give up the three, or guard the three and take away Sullinger? Horn says you have to pay attention to the three-pointer. “Defending the three is critical, especially at this time of the year,” Horn said. “Teams like Ohio State use that three-point shot to go on their runs.”
Meanwhile, Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated, calculates that Ohio State averaged 1.48 points per possession in the win over George Mason. Kentucky’s season-high in PPP this year was 1.41 versus Penn back on Jan. 3. Interestingly enough, VCU also posted a 1.48 in its pounding of Purdue on Sunday.
SPRING FOOTBALL — Chip Cosby of the H-L reports that Joker Phillips is optimistic on the eve of spring football, despite the losses of Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke. Phillips said he knows that some fans are concerned after last year’s 6-7 season, including the loss to Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. “We hear it; we’re not in a cave,” Phillips said. “We hear people’s concerns. We’ve lost this, we’ve lost that. We’ve lost a lot of production before. We didn’t have a tight end for a couple of years and we made do with it. So it’s not a concern of ours.”
– Morgan Newton takes ownership of quarterback, writes James Pennington of the Cats Pause.
– Kentucky will try a new-look defense this spring, writes Aaron Smith of the Kentucky Kernel.
MORE ON PEARL –– Mike Griffith of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that a Tennessee player received extra tickets to the Kentucky game, which is a violation of NCAA rules and helped seal Bruce Pearl’s fate.
Meanwhile, one interesting name that has popped up as a possibility is 40-year-old Lawrence Frank, the former NBA head coach who was a manager under Kevin O’Neill at Tennessee.
– My contention is that Pearl was good for SEC basketball.
UK BASEBALL — Eric Lindsey of Cat Scratches writes on UK freshman J.T. Riddle. Eric writes, “Before the 2011 Kentucky baseball season began, head coach Gary Henderson said freshman J.T. Riddle was hitting so well in the offseason that Riddle was going to force his way into the lineup. Twenty-one games into season, Henderson looks like a prophet. Riddle, hitting a team-high .413 for the 13-8 Wildcats after Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over Cincinnati, has played so well that he’s playing a position (right field) he hasn’t played since he was a little kid.”
– Kentucky freshmen lead way in win over Cincinnati, reports Ethan Levine of the Kentucky Kernel.