Michigan Wolverines Head Coach Juwan Howard Emphasizes Defensive Identity as Team Qualified For Elite Eight

Published 03/29/2021, 1:30 PM EDT
Mar 28, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard talks to guard Eli Brooks (55) and guard Mike Smith (12) in the first half against the Florida State Seminoles during the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports


The Michigan Wolverines are having an inspired season. Despite not being highly ranked heading into this season, the Wolverines entered the NCAA Tournament as the 2nd-best team in the nation. They have been living up to those expectations, as they are the only team from the Big 10 to still be in the tournament.

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The Wolverines booked a berth in the Elite Eight after a win over the Florida State Seminoles. It was an 18-point win, with the Wolverines holding the Seminoles to a paltry 58 points.

This included a horrendous free-throw shooting performance by Florida State, shooting 25% of their shots from the line. Howard commented on their defense after the game.

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“Defense has been one of our staples of our identity. As far as on the offensive end, we have habits on how we developed it last year when I first arrived, and when we returned to the campus in June.

“First thing that we met as a staff, and then also the first meeting when we were able to have our first official practice, we talked about how we’re going to be a better defensive team.

“A lot of drills that we worked on were based on developing that defensive prowess, where we can, of course, be disruptive on the ball and then off the ball.”

Michigan Wolverines: Can they make a title run?

Mar 28, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Franz Wagner (21) and guard. Chaundee Brown (15) and center Hunter Dickinson (1) celebrate in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles during the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines may not have entered looking to be champions, but they are too close to the title now to not care. They will be facing the UCLA Bruins in the Elite Eight, one of the lowest-seeded teams still in the tournament.

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However, the Bruins have proven they are still the elite team from last season in their March Madness run.

The Bruins scored 88 points in their upset win over the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, it will be hard to find that same offensive proficiency against Howard and the Wolverines. They have been proving how elite they are defensively time and time again.

If Michigan beats UCLA, they will be facing the winner of the Houston Cougars and the Oregon State Beavers. They are very close to getting a title that has forever eluded their program. Howard didn’t get it done as a player, but he may get it done in his first year as a coach.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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