Juwan Howard is constructing a staff of superior hoops minds in his return to Michigan as head coach.
Cyclones legend Fred Hoiberg did a great job at Iowa State from 2010-15. Penny Hardway has returned to Memphis with a No. 1 recruiting class in tow. Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin took a stab at it with varying degrees of success. Mullin’s gone. The original Hoya Destroyer is still at it.
While he’s yet to coach a college game, Howard’s introductory presser has already surpassed the aforementioned coaches in emotional value.
Now Howard attempts to further one-up those guys by bringing in one of the legendary coaching voices in college basketball as an assistant or associate head coach.
Phil Martelli, who won 444 games in nearly a quarter century as the coach of Saint Joe’s will bounce from Philly and share his expertise and experience with Howard at Michigan, the long-time coach told CBS Sports on Monday.
The 64-year-old’s contract with Saint Joe’s was terminated on March 19 after a 14-19 season. After his dismissal, Martelli still wanted to continue coaching.
Howard is expected to formally add a third assistant — New York Knicks assistant Howard Eisley — by end of the day Tuesday, according to The Athletic.
Eisley played 15 seasons in the NBA as an astute backup point guard and he is a true student of the game. The 46-year-old is another rising gem in the African-American coaching carousel.
Michigan now has a diverse, three-headed brain trust when it comes to recruiting, game prep and strategy and exploiting the weaknesses of the opposition.
Howard’s college coaching experience pales in comparison to his eight-year grind on NBA benches, but his passion for Michigan, his leadership, basketball prowess and what he’s yet to accomplish will lay the groundwork for a probable return to the NBA as a head coach in a few years.
Howard seems to have a grasp on what he’s trying to accomplish and the kind of coaching staff he wants to surround himself with as he attempts to make Michigan a perennial powerhouse and elite program again.