Thursday, March 21, 2013

Match of Iona's Jones Vs. Ohio St.'s Craft Big Key

Sportswriters treasure one trait among all others when talking to an athlete: honesty.

And, maybe, with a little bit of "cockiness" thrown in.

Which is why all in the profession who have ever had to spend any time around the Iona men's basketball team absolutely love Mr. Lamont "Momo" Jones.

While your scribe hasn't had direct contact with the high-scoring 6-foot-0 Gaels' guard in that team's preparations this week for its NCAA tournament meeting with Ohio State (Friday, 7:30 p.m.), we have been reading with great interest about him in New York's tabloids.

Jones, the No. 3 scorer nationally at 23.0 points per game, will be part of one of the most-interesting individual challenges -- a game within a game, if you will -- of any one could hope to watch.

He will almost assuredly be guarded by the Buckeyes' Aaron Craft, who is almost universally regarded as the nation's top perimeter defender. Craft's work on the defensive end is good enough for Sports Illustrated to produce a lengthy piece last month just on the Ohio State player's defensive proficiency and how he goes about his work stopping opponents' top perimeter scorers.

What does Jones think about that matchup?

"I don't feel like there's anybody that can stop me," Jones told the New York Post earlier this week. "That's just how I go into every game. That's no knock on what he (Craft) does. I haven't seen him. I don't know the guy, just like he doesn't know me."

Odds are, though, Craft will know Jones very well by the start of tomorrow's game.

While Jones claims he won't watch any film that might provide some insights to how the Ohio State guard plays defense, Craft will certainly be watching every snippet of video he can access on his Iona counterpart.

The recent Sports Illustrated article had this to say about Craft's preparation for guarding a high-scoring opponent: "His dedication to studying opponents on film makes him as valuable in his own way to Ohio State as shot blockers like Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton were to UCLA in another era."

"I'm going to gou out and play to the best of my ability," Jones told the New York Post. "If he happens to be one of the best defensive players in the country, we'll see. If not, we'll see that, too."

We'll all have the opportunity to see. And this Hoopscribe looks forward to watching this particular match-up of high-frequency scorer going up against the country's top lockdown defender.

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