Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
The Carrier Classic carries special meaning for Ohio State men’s basketball junior guard Aaron Craft.
Craft’s brother, Brandon Craft, is an Army soldier currently deployed in Afghanistan and returns home on Nov. 17.
In the meantime, Aaron Craft and the OSU men’s and women’s basketball teams, including his sister, freshman guard Cait Craft, will play games Friday on the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
Aaron Craft said he spoke with his brother on the phone this week about his deployment.
“He just finished his last mission, so he is packing up and getting everyone else there ready,” Aaron Craft said.
The Findlay, Ohio, native said playing on the aircraft carrier will be different for him with his brother in the army.
“It’s going to be a good experience for my entire family,” Aaron Craft said. “It’s good we are going down early tomorrow, hopefully we can see some things and soak it up then go in and enjoy it.”
Aaron Craft and the men’s team are scheduled to play Marquette, while his sister and the women’s team are set to face Notre Dame.
Men’s coach Thad Matta said he wasn’t sure why he planned the tournament at first, but he is glad he decided to.
“I went to the luncheon in New York City and talked with the people that are going to be at the game,” Matta said. “It definitely brought home to me what this game is about and, obviously, you look at college basketball, a billion-dollar industry, and this game obviously has a lot more meaning to it.”
Aaron Craft said playing a game outside will be a new experience for him and the team.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting, maybe a little dark,” Aaron Craft said. “I wish it was nicer here so we could practice a little outside. It will be fun though.”
The men’s basketball team have squared off against the Golden Eagles nine times since 1933-34 and hold 5-4 series advantage.
Aaron Craft and the current Buckeyes, however, have not played Marquette. And even with the frenzy surrounding the nature of the event, he said the team’s focus remains squarely on the Golden Eagles.
“Our biggest focus is playing on Friday and playing against a great team, Marquette,” Aaron Craft said. “Everything that’s going into this game, kind of playing as a team, first time we are playing on TV against a great opponent, that’s our biggest focus.”
The Buckeyes will be sporting camouflage jerseys for the game and it’s something junior forward Deshaun Thomas approves of.
“Yeah, I like this camouflage,” he said.
OSU women’s basketball is scheduled to tip off its Carrier Classic game against Notre Dame at 4 p.m. on Friday while the Buckeyes’ men’s team is slated to tip off against Marquette at 7 p.m.