On Thursday night, the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines defeated unranked Michigan State to claim the Big Ten regular season title. With the overwhelming success Juwan Howard’s 19-2 Michigan basketball squad has enjoyed this season, it’s pretty easy to get complacent against a lesser team like this year’s 14-11 Spartans. To combat this, Howard looked to bring in some external motivation.
This motivation didn’t come in the form of encouraging words or supportive messages — in fact, it was the exact opposite. Howard apparently shared a trash talk video from former Michigan State standout Draymond Green to fire up his team.
After the Wolverines’ 69-50 win, UM grad transfer Mike Smith revealed how much this video pushed them in the heated rivalry game.
“It felt amazing and then it’s even sweeter to do it against Michigan State,” Smith said of the regular season title. “Coach showed us a video of Draymond Green. He was just saying he wished we would never win a game ever. That just shows how aggressive this matchup is.”
Mike Smith says that Juwan Howard showed the team a video of Draymond Green saying he hopes Michigan never wins a game as motivation before tonight's game.
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) March 5, 2021
While the contents of the video remain undisclosed, Green’s hatred for the Michigan program is well documented. Through his four years with the Spartans (2008-12), the former Big Ten Player of the Year became one of the most outspoken voices in the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry. In a quote from the Big Ten Network’s “Divided We Stand” documentary, Green said, “I enjoy seeing us destroy them.”
Though the basketball hatred runs deep, Juwan Howard says this tactic had nothing personal against Green. The Michigan coach voiced his praise for the Warriors’ forward after the game.
“Oh, man. It’s a fun video,” Howard said. “I’m a huge Draymond Green fan, I just want you to know that. I’ll start with that first. I’ll never forget when Draymond was with the Warriors and I was working with the Miami Heat. This was at their first building, not the new building that they’re playing at now. I was going to work out one of our players on the Heat team, and I saw Draymond working out before the game and I personally walked over to him, and I said, ‘This is not Michigan-Michigan State rivalry stuff. I just want you to know that I’m a big fan of your game. I’ve watched you and I’ve seen you develop. Just know that you always have a fan here. I know it may sound strange because of the rivalry.’
“Draymond, he’s a Hall-of-Famer in my opinion, at some point, when he’s done playing. But he had a nice little video that I wanted the guys to listen to. I think they really enjoyed watching it and listening to the words that were said.”
With the win on Thursday, Michigan basketball extends their overall series lead over the Spartans to double digits (95-85). The rival squads will face off yet again on Sunday for the final game of the regular season.