Chris Holtmann reinstates Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington Jr.
Ohio State guards Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. have been reinstated by coach Chris Holtmann after serving one-game suspensions.
Holtmann made the announcement at an interview session Friday, one day before the No. 21 Buckeyes play at Penn State.
“They’re expected to play,” Holtmann said. “It was always in my mind probably going to be a one-game suspension. I just wanted to think through it a little more. Have a little bit of additional conversations. That was always my intent.”
Shortly before Ohio State hosted Nebraska on Tuesday night, the university announced that the sophomore guards had been suspended for “a failure to meet program standards and expectations.”
Both Muhammad and Washington watched the game, an 80-68 win to snap a three-game losing streak, in the locker room. Afterward, teammates Kaleb Wesson and CJ Walker expressed their support for the guards and said they looked forward to having them back on the court soon.
That night, Holtmann said he wasn’t sending one specific message to the players and pointed out that it wasn’t about just one game. Friday, he said it’s too early to tell how deeply the message was received.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I think that’s an ongoing process. I don’t think it’s anything that can be determined in one day, two days, one week. I think we’ll see how they handle it moving forward. I think it’s part of the life of a season that you have some suspensions and you have some things that happen. I hope it doesn’t happen again, but if it does this year, we’ll address it. I think it’s an opportunity for guys to learn.”
The suspension came one game after Ohio State lost 66-54 at Indiana. During that game, Washington started but played only eight minutes and did not attempt a field goal for the first time in his career as Holtmann sat him for the majority of the game after a few defensive lapses.
Washington is the team’s second-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game and has started 11 of the 14 games he has played this season. Muhammad, who like much of the team has been in an offensive slump in recent games, averages 6.5 points and 1.6 rebounds per game. He has started 15 of the 16 games in which he has played.
“They’re two kids we care about,” Holtmann said. “We certainly want the best for them, but it was, I think, best for them and best for our team. They’ve had great attitudes.”
Without Muhammad and Washington, Holtmann started junior CJ Walker and freshman D.J. Carton in the backcourt and played senior walk-on Danny Hummer for two minutes during the first half.