The magical season for Big Ten Coach of the Year Juwan Howard and his Michigan Wolverines continued on Sunday afternoon as his top-seeded Wolverines handled the size and length of the Florida State Seminoles.
In a twist of Black coaching fate, FSU was led by Howard’s one-time mentor and coach Leonard Hamilton. The student spanked the teacher as the Wolverines disposed of the Seminoles in convincing fashion (76-58) to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2018.
He was also named National Coach of the Year by Sporting News.
In an overall great effort, what stood out was the Wolverines’ defense and Howard’s coaching as you could hear him yelling out the plays every possession, and they executed them to perfection.
They held the Noles to 18% from beyond the arc until late in the game, under 40% overall. Michigan under Howard is the epitome of a unified team, and it’s showing minus star player Isaiah Livers, who’s out for the entire tournament with a stress fracture.
Howard put on a coaching clinic against his former coach, and that’s not to be understated. Using most of the players, the Wolverines showedthe
‘quality depth en route to the Elite Eight.
When Howard was hired, there were many rumblings that he wasn’t ready to do the job, which was absolute nonsense at the core. The former member of the “Fab 5” paid his dues on the NBA level and has earned this opportunity to lead his Alma Mater. Howard has preached about “The Brotherhood” and every game being business per usual from day one. Something he said he learned as an assistant in the NBA.
In 2019, when John Beilein resigned, many fans and alumni were calling for Howard initially. Still, the school was interested in other candidates like Brad Stevens, Jay Wright, Chris Beard, and Billy Donovan. They all declined, and then came the likes of Shaka Smart, Ed Cooley, and LaVall Jordan. The former “Fab 5” teammate and good friend Jalen Rose endorsed him as the best candidate.
The reluctance to initially hire Howard stemmed from his lack of recruitment at the NBA level.
You also have to believe some of it came from how things ended with the “Fab 5,” and having all the history of their impressive two-year run wiped from the record books and banners removed from Crisler Arena.
All he’s done is lead the Wolverines back to the brink of another Final 4. He also became the first person in NCAA history to enter the tournament as a No.1 seed as both a player and coach. Howard is looking to lighten that stain left by his former teammate Chris Webber as a member of the “Fab 5.”