Notebook: Sibert Steps Up

Ohio State will take on Penn State on Sunday for the Big Ten tournament title, but before we turn the page to the Nittany Lions take a look back at the win against Michigan with this notebook. Leading off is the play of freshman Jordan Sibert.

Even Jordan Sibert admitted to being shocked for a moment in Ohio State's win Saturday against Michigan. A seldom-used reserve for the Buckeyes, the freshman entered the game having appeared in 22 of OSU's first 32 games but having accumulated 15 minutes in his last six Big Ten appearances.

So when first Aaron Craft and then David Lighty picked up two first-half fouls, it was suddenly time to go for Sibert.

"I try to prepare myself and when I get called I'm kind of shocked at the same time but I work so hard in practice," he said. "We all work so hard in practice so when we get out there it's not really that much of a shock. We're so used to it now."

When Sibert checked into the game with 9:46 remaining in the first half, the Buckeyes held a 16-12 lead. That four-point margin would hold up into the break, giving OSU some positive momentum headed into the break.

Nowhere was that more evident after the game than in the smile on Sibert's face after receiving his first meaningful minutes since Big Ten play began in December.

He was not alone in the extended action, however. When Craft picked up his second foul 7:25 into the game, he was replaced by freshman forward Deshaun Thomas. The prolific shooter has been OSU's seventh man this season but has not been called upon on a consistent basis.

At the break, Thomas had four points and three rebounds while Sibert had a steal from U-M's Tim Hardaway Jr. that he turned into a two-handed dunk at the other end.

"It felt amazing," Sibert said of the dunk. "People don't really realize how deep it is when you sit on the bench for a while and you just watch. When you get out there, the only thing you're programmed to do is you want to shoot. When you get out there and you feel involved and you get a steal and do something as powerful as dunk the ball, that makes you feel like, ‘OK, now I'm playing. Now I'm in the game.' "

Lighty said there was no special message given to Thomas and Sibert at halftime, and a number of their teammates pointed out that they expected nothing less given their performances in practice.

Sullinger credited Sibert for not letting his personal situation become a distraction.

"He's stayed together with the team and he never stepped outside the team," Sullinger said. "It's easy for a guy to go from first-team all-state to going, ‘Forget this team. I'm done with this team.' He could say all those things, but he didn't, and he's still here with the team."

For junior guard William Buford in particular, seeing Sibert dunk the basketball brought a smile to his face.

"That's my little brother," Buford said. "He always critiques my game and tells me what I do bad. I love him for that. He's not the yes man telling me what I do right, he tells me what I do wrong and what I need to do. I listen to him and when I look over he's on the sideline looking in."

As for the dunk, Buford said, "It was kind of nasty, huh? I liked that. I think he loved it. It boosted us up a little bit and it boosted him up a little bit and gave him some confidence. I'm proud of him."

Sibert was asked if he would have a smile on his face for the rest of the night.

"Actually, I will, especially for that being my first time getting out there (in a big game)," he said. "Me being out there and being able to contribute, especially in such a big environment in this tournament, I'm going to call my mom and have a good talk with her."

The ‘Fight' – It was nothing more than a simple shove and some jawing back and forth, but a little scuffle midway through the second half between Michigan's Jordan Morgan and OSU's Jared Sullinger and Buford helped add some spice to the game.

Sullinger was immediately replaced by senior Dallas Lauderdale, who has started every game this season but did not get back into the game one day earlier against Northwestern. Lauderdale said the incident helped fire the team up.

"There's going to be one winner and one loser so there's going to be physicality within the lines," he said. "If a team goes too far, the other team is definitely going to get pumped up and that's what happened today. We got pumped up."

Buford said he confronted Morgan because he is tired of seeing Sullinger get beaten up on a nightly basis.

"He handles it real well, better than anyone I've seen," the junior said of Sullinger. "I know if I was taking beatings like that I'd be getting real mad and frustrated. He handles it real well and I'm proud of him for that."

Said Sullinger: "Honestly, if you look around this locker room everybody has each other's backs. Will decided to risk getting a (technical). Big ups to Will and I was right behind him."

Ailment Updates – After the game, Lighty sported a red patch on his left nostril that looked like a bruise. As it turns out, it was the result of not properly following directions.

"(Friday) I got elbowed and I got cut," he said. "(The trainer) told me to put pressure on it with a towel. I was putting pressure on it but I rubbed it at the same time so I rubbed skin off of my face. It's like a scar. It's a scab now."

Meanwhile, Sullinger did not sport tape along his right upper arm designed to increase blood flow through the limb. He began the Northwestern game with it but did not wear the black tape in the second half.

"It came off (Friday) because I sweat a lot and the (stuff) didn't really hold it on," he said. "I just decided to keep it off."

One night after having some black tape on his right, shooting wrist, Jon Diebler had no such additions to his wardrobe against the Wolverines.


Buckeye Sports Top Stories