Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 17, 2014

Toughness. It?s needed in any sport to be successful. And there are many definitions of toughness, which is displayed in various ways. Show me a successful team-and I?ll show you a tough team. Knowing that, I asked some writers who cover Big Ten hoops teams who they felt is the ?toughest? player in the conference.

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Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press:

Aaron Craft. Whether by design or accident, he takes more bumps than a pinball — at both ends.

Seth Gruen, Chicago Sun-Times:

Keith Appling. Smallest guy on the floor and not afraid to bang with the big boys. Allen Iverson-like mentality.

Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press:

Can I call it a tie between Keith Appling and Aaron Craft? I can't pick one there. It is exhausting to watch them go at each other.

Scott Dochterman, Cedar Rapids Gazette:

Adreian Payne is not only physically imposing, but he adds to that with sheer determination in the post. He's an underrated scorer but undoubtedly the toughest player on the Big Ten's toughest team.

Dave Biddle,

Aaron Craft. He is the toughest player mentally, not only in the Big Ten, but in the entire country. And he's also tough physically.

Pete DiPrimio, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:

I call it a tie between IU's Noah Vonleh and Purdue's A.J. Hammons.

Robin Washut,

Tim Frazier. He was up there before his injury, but the way he handled the setback last year and hit the ground running this year has been great.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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