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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Game at Purdue inspired Craft

By Marla Published: March 22, 2011

Ohio State freshman point guard Aaron Craft committed six turnovers in a 76-63 loss at Purdue on Feb. 20. In the nine games since that defeat -- which was OSU's last -- Craft has totalled 11 turnovers while handing out 55 assists.

In NCAA Tournament victories over UT-San Antonio and George Mason, Craft  had 22 assists and five turnovers. His 15 assists against the Patriots were the fourth-most in NCAA Tournament history.

"I didn't say anything to him about it,'' Matta said in a conference call Tuesday in reference to the Purdue game. " The thing I love about Aaron, he's probably as hard on himself as any kid I've ever coached. I've got great trust in him in knowing those are the type of things that drive him nuts.''

Matta has made an NCAA Tournament run before with a freshman point guard. Mike Conley Jr. was the floor general of the 2007 OSU team that lost to Florida in the national championship game. Matta knows there's a balance of being confident to make what look like almost-brazen passes and being careful not to give the ball up.

"There is a great balance and to Aaron's credit, he's done a tremendous job of studying the system and getting a great feel for his teammates, when they want it, where they want it,'' Matta said. "He's a guy who can play just about any position on the floor. He knows everything. Late in the game the other day we put him at the 3 and I said, 'You know the set?' and he said, 'I know exactly what to do.'''

As far as basketball IQ, Matta said the Liberty-Benton product is one of the best he's ever had.

"His mind is ... there's probably a good chance someday if you need surgery he'll be operating on you,'' Matta said. "He's considering being a doctor or a surgeon. His mind is incredible for the things he's been able to see.''

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