“I Thought It Was Time To Protect Myself” | Juwan Howard Puts Hands On Wisconsin Assistant Coach

Image Credit: Twitter screen shot @umichbball

Michigan men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard let the Wisconsin coaching staff know how he felt about losing when his hand met the face of one of the Badgers assistant coaches.

The chaos following Michigan’s loss at Wisconsin on Sunday — the shouting, the shoving, and the punching — started with a gesture that initiates inactivity: a timeout.

Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard called a timeout with 15 seconds left in the game, and Wisconsin led 76-61 after the Badgers struggled to get the ball across halfcourt.

Escalation

After a Michigan defender deflected the ball out of bounds, Gard called the timeout. Later, a difference of perspective spurred the eventual, physicality with Gard describing Michigan’s defense at the time as a full-court press.

However, Howard felt it was a full-court man-to-man, but, needless to say, both teams were in heated competition until the end.

Howard thought the timeout was disrespectful.

“I didn’t like the timeout being called, and I’ll be totally honest with you,” said Howard during the postgame press conference. “I thought it was not necessary at that moment, especially being a large lead. And then to have a timeout called with three seconds or four seconds to go, I thought that was what I felt wasn’t fair to our guys.”

It Goes Down In The Handshake Line

Howard is a former NBA great, and he didn’t take the slight well. It all went down on the postgame handshake line.

“I won’t forget that,” Howard said to Gard as he pulled his mask down.

However, Gard wanted to give his version of events behind the timeout to Howard, which made sense to him.

“Maybe he doesn’t know the rule that you get the 10-second reset,” Gard said in his postgame press conference.

Don’t Touch Me, Bro

Gard grabbed Howard’s right arm to keep him from walking away, and that’s when things got physical. Howard exchanged words, and even though the benches came to provide distance between the two, Howard circled back and slapped assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft, retreating with a closed fist for emphasis.

“I think that was very uncalled for him to touch me as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another,” Howard said. “That’s what ended up happening. That’s what escalated it.

“It wasn’t cause for that when we were talking. At that point, I thought it was time to protect myself.”

Everybody Can Get It

However, then the teams got involved. According to reports, Michigan’s Moussa Diabaté and Terrance Williams II seemingly threw punches.

Also, Wisconsin’s Jahcobi Neath entered the melee with determination.

“There is no space for conduct like that in any competition, much less Big Ten competition,” said Wisconsin athletics director Chris McIntosh. “The Big Ten takes pride in sportsmanship, the Big Ten takes pride in acting with class, and that didn’t happen today.

McIntosh joined Gard at the podium during the postgame presser.

The Reactions

“I’ve spoken to the [Big Ten] commissioner personally. I expect the league is going to act swiftly and aggressively. We’ve got staff that have been affected and injured, hit in the face. It’s difficult for me to compose myself in the defense of our staff and our team. We did not instigate this incident. It’s clearly captured on the television feed.”

Michigan’s athletics director, Warde Manuel, released a statement condemning the incident.

“I am aware of and watched the end of our men’s basketball game,” Manuel said in the statement. “There is no excuse for any of our staff or student-athletes to get into a physical altercation with others regardless of instigating factors.

“We will review the situation more thoroughly and work with the Big Ten Conference as they determine their disciplinary actions and will determine if further disciplinary actions are warranted,” Manuel concluded.

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Big Ten Trouble

Then the Big Ten released a statement about 90 minutes after the game.

“The Big Ten Conference is aware of a physical altercation involving Michigan Head Coach Juwan Howard at the conclusion of the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball game.

“The conference is in contact with both member institutions and is currently assessing the incident. The conference will provide more information and will take swift and appropriate disciplinary action when it completes its review.”

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Not New To This. True To This.

Howard also received two technical fouls in Michigan’s previous game at Iowa on Thursday: arguing a call and accidentally picking up the ball during play.

In the game before the Iowa one, Howard was issued a tech in the final minute of a game for arguing with the refs.

Last season, Howard was ejected from Michigan’s Big Ten Tournament game against Maryland for an altercation involving Maryland coach Mark Turgeon.

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Consequences?

There was also an earlier postgame handshake line incident after Michigan played at Rutgers earlier this season, where Michigan freshman Moussa Diabaté had to be restrained.

The biggest question is will Howard be suspended for the offense as the culmination of other more minor incidents?

“It’s up to [the Big Ten] and I will respect whatever decision they end up making,” Howard said.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.