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“The obituary was already being written. Aaron Craft, Ohio State’s do-everything point guard, had wilted down the stretch. Turnovers, missed free throws and untimely fouls made a 13-point Buckeye lead disappear. Over the past month, during Ohio State’s nine-game win streak, Craft developed into a national darling for his style of play, looks and penchant for coming up big in critical moments.
With the season on the line, it was Craft, a defensive ace, waving off the Big Ten’s leading scorer, Deshaun Thomas. The scoreboard read Ohio State 75, Iowa State 75 with less than two seconds left in the game. Craft stood behind the three-point line and released the ball, this time without a hitch that usually accompanies his shots. Time seemed to stand still in UD Arena, 13,000 spectators all clad in some hue of red holding their breath.
Swish.” [Rowland/Eleven Warriors]
“But there were still plenty of intriguing prospects in the field of 68 teams. Unfortunately, a bunch of them went home early. Marcus Smart’s Oklahoma State lost in the first round against the Oregon Ducks. Smart stuffed the stat sheet like he usually does with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals — but shot just 5 of 13 from the field as his team went down. Shabazz Muhammad and the UCLA Bruins lost to Minnesota. Shabazz had a horrible first half and did show signs of life in the final 20 minutes, but his 20 points on 6 of 18 shooting were not nearly enough. We saw a lot of the things that he does well, as well as a lot of the things that he does poorly. He struggled to make shots off the dribble, but excelled in transition. Neither Smart nor Muhammad played terribly, but their teams lost anyway and that’s all we get to see of them.
Otto Porter’s Georgetown Hoyas may have been the victims of March’s biggest upset. 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast sent Porter packing after his 13 points on 17 shots with 11 rebounds performance. As always, I don’t want anybody to overreact to one game — but it’s still disappointing. Porter is a great player and will be drafted in the top part of the lottery, but for NBA fans watching the NCAA Tournament, it would have been nice to see these guys put on a bit of a show.” [Kaczmarek/Fear the Sword]
About Reynold’s 500 foot blast the other day– “Reynolds never saw the ball, never saw it land. Told it cleared the scoreboard, he merely said: “That’s what I heard.” He was happy his three-year-old son Jacob was in the crowd to see it. And he smiled when his son told him after the game “You hit it and nobody caught it.”
“I run into them every now and then,” he said. “You know my game.” His game is pretty self-explanatory. And it almost seems as if Reynolds hits a home run or he strikes out. Reynolds has averaged 33 home runs the last five seasons, two with Baltimore and three with Arizona. But he’s also averaged 199 strikeouts in those seasons — leading the league four times.” [McManamon/FSO]
“Lindor’s swing has more length from the left side, but so do many switch hitters. His hands are still quick to the ball, but the longer swing plane may help Lindor’s power projection as he continues to gain experience. Boosting Lindor’s all-around game is a frame which has added strength in the off-season. He faded in the second half of 2012, but I doubt 2013 will be a repeat performance.
Paulino will open the season a level behind Lindor, but his hitting ability is more advanced. in batting practice, he peppered line drives to all fields displaying both advanced bat control and gap power. Paulino has a compact build and pairs this with simple swing mechanics. It’s easy to envision the shortstop with a plus contact tool and average power. Add to this a three-hit effort on the back fields and I’m intrigued. I’d rank him amongst the best pure hitters scouted in Arizona without blinking.
In the field, Paulino has the hands and arm to stick at shortstop. However, his body is closer to “stout” than lean and athletic. In another organization, he might stick at the position for a time. With the Indians, Paulino does not have the defensive projection to jump Lindor on the depth chart. Consider Lindor the true shortstop of the future.” [Newman/FanGraphs]