(Lathers on SPF-2000000 sunblock)
(Dons Flame Resistant Suit)
This post has some serious blasphemic implications. In fact, I don’t know if I’ll be able to look Vico in the eye after writing this. The choice I’m going to present is probably an easy one for you as a Buckeye fan. But as I’ve sat and watched the Buckeye Basketball team struggle this year, it’s a topic I’ve had to wrestle with: Who would you rather see on your team: Aaron Craft of Trey Burke?
Now, before you dismiss this strictly hypothetical with “this isn’t a one-to-one comparison,” I understand that. This isn’t apples to oranges but maybe Granny Smith to Fuji. (Fuji are the best, by the way). So I am just going to present some strengths and flaws that each player brings to the court and I will leave a poll at the end. The decision will be yours. I will not be surprised by either outcome.
Both of these players are eerily similar in the history department. Both were heavily recruited by teams that ultimately did not end up playing for. Both are from Ohio and have strong Ohio ties. I’m not exactly sure this is the case with Michigan fans, but both are adored (if not lusted after) by their fanbases.
So let’s lay out the arguments for both and see where this goes, shall we?
There’s no denying that Burke Scorer with a capital S. Through 16 games, Burke is averaging 18.3 points per game and 7.2 assists per game. That means he is combining for at least 40 percent of Michigan’s total offense. He is aggressive with the basketball but doesn’t always get to the free throw line. Throw in 39.2% from three point range and it’s easy to see that Burke is able to score.
Trey Burke is also quick and fast with the ball in his hand. He’s able to go either direction and his ball handling skills are solid.
From the offensive side of the ball, Burke is a game changer. Whether it’s taking a lead early or in crunch time (which there hasn’t really been a lot of for the Wolverines) Burke is a guy who is going to get his shot, get inside and make you pay. I think most Michigan fans want the ball in Burke’s hand with the game on the line.
Comparitively speaking, Burke is at times a below average defender. While this observation may be more based on his freshman season, he struggled to stay in front of his man and wasn’t really known for his strength (whatever that may mean to you).
Again, this is more of an observation of his freshman results, but Burke has had tendency to heave shots at in opportune times. He is taking a better shot selection this year but can still take his fair share of those head-scratching shots.
Where Burke is a Game Changer with the ball in his hand, there is no doubt that Craft is a game changer on the defensive side of the ball. You can’t watch a game of Ohio State basketball and not hear, ad nauseum, how Craft is the best on-ball defender in college. But the truth is, he is one of the best, going toe-to-toe with anyone he faces and he doesn’t back down. His feet are extremely quick and I really don’t know how he moves so effortless from side to side. He’s also a physically strong player that gives him leverage against pretty much any opposing team’s point guard.
Craft doesn’t seem to get too flustered very often. He seems to be level headed to a fault and I think is a sneaky weapon he has in his arsenal as he gets inside the head of an opponent. Those ruddy cheeks and babyface smirk has got to get under the skin of more than one Big Ten guard in the past three years.
Aaron Craft is unfortunately an offensive liability more times than not. His jump shot mechanics are not the prettiest and his outside shot is still shaky at best. Averaging less than 9 points per game and 4.7 assists per game has become a problem at times. There have also been times when Ohio State as a team has gone cold where Craft becomes tentative. He is still quick off the dribble and has a good inside game, getting good position and initiates contact but he doesn’t seem to be agressive enough to take the ball to the rack as many times as people would like to see.
Because of his limited offensive arsenal, Craft really can’t dictate tempo or control the game from his position. He has had to rely on others to snap Ohio State out of shooting slumps and when defenses tighten up, he isn’t as aggressive taking the ball inside.
These aren’t the only differences between the two, just a few I’ve chosen to highlight. I’d love to hear how you guys think they match up.
As far as head-to-head match-ups, last year each guy got his against the other. Burke got the better of Craft in last year’s game in Michigan, which the Wolverines won 56-51. Burke had 17 points, included a little floater at the end the pretty much sealed the deal. Craft returned the favor in the Big Ten Tournament, holding Burke to 1 of 11 shooting and causing most, if not all of his 8 turn overs. It was apparent that this match-up was going to be thrilling as long as both players were on their respective teams.
Burke flirted with the NBA last year, giving Michigan fans the tremors, but has returned and is playing extremely good basketball. Craft, on the other hand, is now shouldering more of a load of responsibility than he had his previous two years with the departure of players like Jared Sullinger and William Buford. The added pressure has definitely weighed on Craft and his game has regressed. Did he peak as a sophomore, with little pressure to score, allowing him to concentrate solely on his defense?
So this is the question I present to you: Burke is an Ohio Boy. Craft is an Ohio Boy. Both are point guards. Both are dynamic personalities. So the question is present to you: Who would you rather have leading your Ohio State Buckeyes?
Aaron Craft or Trey Burke, who do you want on your team?
- Aaron Craft (68%, 219 Votes)
- Trey Burke (32%, 102 Votes)
Total Voters: 321