Buckeyes dancing videos roil, motivate Wolverines in Columbus takedown

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Before arriving in Ann Arbor this past offseason, senior guard Chaundee Brown didn't pay much attention to the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State.

Part of it was because he grew up across the country in Florida. Another reason was he thought he'd never be recruited by the Wolverines and would end up at any other Division I school besides Michigan, so the series never registered on his radar.

In order to get Brown, a transfer, and Michigan’s other newcomers up to speed, they were provided a crash course on their rival and what the game means to the program heading into Sunday’s top-five matchup at Value City Arena.

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard shouts to his team against Ohio State during the first half.

“We showed them a couple videos that rubbed us the wrong way,” senior guard Eli Brooks said after Michigan’s 92-87 victory.

According to Brown, the videos were of Ohio State players dancing after their wins over the Wolverines last season, when the Buckeyes swept the regular-season series with a three-point victory in Ann Arbor and a 14-point win in Columbus.

“Coach (Juwan) Howard showed it and kept showing it, basically the disrespect and everything,” Brown said.

On top of that, Brown found out on social media about the “gold jersey” tradition Ohio State’s basketball team started, taking a page out of the football program’s book. Since 1934, Ohio State football players have received a golden pants charm for every win against Michigan.

But since the basketball teams could face up to three or four times in a given season, the Buckeyes must sweep the Wolverines that year to earn the gold jersey pendant.

“That motivated us even more,” Brown said. “That really motivated me.”

It showed as Brown was locked in from the start and came to play. He scored 15 points off the bench on 6-for-8 shooting and went 3-for-4 from 3-point range, making his first three long-range attempts.

During one first-half stretch, he hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Michigan its first lead. After each make, Brown exchanged words with the Ohio State bench and play was briefly stopped after the second instance.

“They were talking,” Brown said. “When I was shooting, they were saying a couple words and this and that. I just like these type of games, these dogfights.”

In addition to Brown, freshman center Hunter Dickinson and grad transfer guard Mike Smith also got their first taste of the rivalry and made their marks.

Dickinson finished with a team-high 22 points and nine rebounds and Smith chipped in 11 points and seven assists in a game that featured physical play, trash-talking, bodies hitting the court and a heightened level of emotion.

“I could tell they don't like us, and we sure don't like them either,” Dickinson said. “I think it was extra motivation, extra intensity out there on the court. You could see that it was a really competitive game. I think that there's definitely something to be said for an Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. It's definitely one of the best in the country.”

Dickinson felt the videos that were shown to the team provided more fuel for the returning Wolverines since he, Brown and Smith weren’t around last year to experience the sting of those previous defeats.

"I think the person who was most upset by that was probably Coach Howard,” Dickinson said. “It was like the Michael Jordan approach — any little thing that can get you a little extra motivated helps. I think that was something that got everybody really prepared for this game.”

But perhaps the biggest motivational tool was Michigan’s lack of success in Columbus. Entering Sunday’s game, the Wolverines had lost four straight and 14 of their past 16 trips to Value City Arena, with their last win coming in 2014.

"The biggest thing we were looking at was our record at Ohio State,” Brooks said. “That's something that we really wanted to change. That's what drove us the most.

“We wanted to change the tides and that's what we did.”

Career day

Michigan had no answer for Ohio State junior guard Duane Washington Jr., a Grand Rapids native who led the Buckeyes’ offensive attack and knocked down shots all over the court.

Washington poured in a career-high 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting and finished 5-for-10 from 3-point range. He bested his previous high of 23 points set last month in a win over Northwestern.

"Duane was terrific,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I think Duane's been really locked in. He's been really committed to growing as a player and he's been really committed to playing the right way.”

Washington spent three years at Grand Rapids Christian High before finishing his prep career at Sierra Canyon in California.


Twitter: @jamesbhawkins