During media availability on Nov.. . 18, Phil Martelli, Michigan’s assistant basketball coach, made a prediction about head coach Juwan Howard:
High expectations, no doubt. But when Howard begins his second season at the helm of the Wolverines, he’s made his presence felt. After leading Michigan to a regular season end of 19-12 in its first season before COVID-19 success, and hitting the Big Ten’s top junior class in 2020, Howard’s rapid rise came as a surprise to many.
His predecessor John Beilein does not belong to this group. He and Howard had discussed basketball and Michigan team culture several times in the past five or six years – long before Beilein left Ann Arbor to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers and Howard took his place. When Beilein took the position, Howard flew to Cleveland to speak to the program’s all-time wins leader.
« His personality is just amazing, » Beilein told The Daily. “He immediately builds good relationships with people and gets them too. He understands the dynamics of a team and that’s what he’s putting together here in Michigan. I’m following the recruiting up a bit, but I know the guys he’s got here now and the guys he’s bringing in. We have similar values about what is best for the Michigan basketball program. ”
When Howard officially began his tenure as Michigan head coach, he went to work and won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament by beating top ten teams North Carolina and Gonzaga. While the team found itself in difficult situations throughout the season after the then young striker Isaiah Livers missed the time due to an injury, Howard served his players as a calming and stabilizing figure. For Howard, being head coach was not just about building a team on the pitch, but also building a family out of it.
When they first met, Martelli asked Howard what his recruiting philosophy should be. Would they search for the top names or try to find diamonds in the rough?
« This is about family, » replied Howard. “We’re going to study the families of the players, we’re going to study the players, we’re going to study the fit. ”
« I think I know what he is about and therefore know what Michigan is about and what Michigan has provided Juwan with which stayed true with the recruitment, » Martelli said.
Howard’s care for everyone in his program is evident every time he interacts with his players. Martelli, who has 444 career head coaches, wins in St. . Josephs recalls that he once saw Howard go through defensive maneuvers with two of his companions for five minutes.
« I said to him, ‘That kind of attention and that kind of care leaves me in no doubt that you will be exceptional in this regard, » Martelli said.
While looking for players who fit his image and culture to join his basketball family, Howard has managed to win some of the best prospects in the country at the same time. The Freshman Center Hunter Dickinson was 42nd in 2020. Recruit per 247 sports. Next year, Howard will welcome the 2021 Senior Recruiting Class led by five-star strikers Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate. Despite the glamorous appeal of star ratings, Howard’s emphasis on character remains constant.
« He understands what it takes, » said Beilein. « He gets that part of where people who are just getting off the leaderboard and recruiting that way will be very disappointed. « . You are looking at the Duncan Robinsons and the Caris LeVerts who should tell everyone what reviews mean to you and what reviews are all about. Juwan understands that and I think we both had the same philosophy. « We’re not going to recruit high-level people, but we don’t care who we don’t get, we don’t care who we get. « . And so you can easily find people who want Michigan and only care about the team. ”
At the start of his second season, Howard has high goals and expectations for himself and his team. He wants to win a Big Ten championship – something he has missed during his playing career – and fight for a national championship. Beilein believes Howard is equipped in every way to achieve his goals and lead the Wolverines back to the Promised Land.
In order to recruit the best athletes in the country, sophisticated sales management is required. It takes an even better basketball mind to develop this talent for winning on the court. But with both of them, Howard has everything a program can expect from its leader. The faces that make up his team are all equally important, be it a star player like second striker Franz Wagner or a student manager.
« There’s no question Michigan will be fighting for the Big Ten championships, and if you are fighting for the Big Ten championships, you are fighting for a national championship, » Beilein said. « I don’t want to say that winning a championship is the only goal, but rather to be the best team you can be. And Juwan will do that and a championship could lead to it. ”
Howard is not just building a competitor in Ann Arbor, he’s building a family. And above all, that shows he’s ready to give Michigan its second national title.
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Michigan Wolverines Men’s Basketball, Big Ten Conference, University of Michigan, Juwan Howard, Basketball
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