Michigan Wolverines’ Coach Juwan Howard Explains How He Overcame His Critics

Published 03/25/2021, 11:55 AM EDT
Mar 13, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard signals from the bench in the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


Taking a new job in unfamiliar territories is always tough. For two-time NBA champion Juwan Howard, it was no different. After his retirement from the NBA, Howard was an assistant with Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra for six years. But then an opportunity to be the head coach at his alma mater Michigan Wolverines came up and he couldn’t refuse.

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The appointment was initially criticized, but almost two years later, there can be no questions raised about it. Howard recently made an appearance on NBA on TNT, where Shaquille O’Neal asked how it feels to overcome these critics.

“It feels great, man. I never forget. A reporter asked me as far as ‘do you hear the noise as far as what media or people that are saying you’re a first time (head) coach, you don’t know college, you don’t know the game’. That right there, it inspired me. But I had that drive, I had that love. I didn’t really try to perform because of what I heard. It’s just my DNA,” Howard replied.

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From the Miami Heat to the Michigan Wolverines, a successful transition for Juwan Howard

The Michigan Wolverines appointed Howard as the head coach in 2019 as a replacement for John Beilein. But since he came in with zero college coaching experience, there were a lot of critics questioning this appointment. His first season had some ups and downs and they eventually finished 10th in the conference.

Mar 12, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard reacts from the sideline in the game against the Maryland Terrapins in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

And now, in just his second season as the head coach, Howard has guided his team into the NCAA tournament as a #1 seed and has also helped them win the Big Ten regular-season title. And he is now the favorite to win the Naismith Coach of the Year award as well.

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But his season could potentially get better. As the rest of the Big Ten crumbled in the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines are still standing strong. They are currently the only Big Ten team in the Sweet Sixteen of the March Madness tournament. The other eight were sent home with Big Ten+ Point losses.

The biggest potential hurdle they face for a championship is Gonzaga. They are likely to meet in the Final Four, and if the Wolverines win that game, they will have the confidence to go all the way. Howard is already a Wolverines legend because of his playing career, and a NCAA tournament win will also make him a legendary coach.

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DIVE DEEPER

Juwan Howard Ecstatic After Leading Michigan Wolverines to #1 Seed As Both Coach and Player

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Aaron Mathew

1540 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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