Just a few weeks ago, the whole world saw Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard lose his temper and punch a Wisconsin assistant coach.
The incident occurred after Howard and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard exchanged words during the postgame handshake over some last-minute play-calling, with Howard pointing a finger in Gard’s face and Gard grabbing Howard’s shirt.
This led to the assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft coming over to exchange words with Howard, which ultimately led to Howard’s throwing a punch and connecting enough to draw a suspension for the remainder of the regular season. He was also fined $40,000 for the altercation.
Yesterday’s win against Ohio State was the last game of Howard’s suspension, and Michigan will be facing Indiana in the Big Ten tournament leading up to March Madness tournament selection.
Michigan went 3-2 during Howard’s suspension, and the winning record isn’t the only highlight of Howard’s absence.
During Sunday’s game, Fox Sports broadcaster Gus Johnson shared an outstanding story that is really indicative of how respected and talented Juwan Howard is as a coach. And clear evidence that Michigan would have been shooting itself in the foot by overreacting and succumbing to some people’s desire to see Howard fired.
According to Johnson, eight NBA teams reached out to Howard’s representatives inquiring about Juwan Howard’s coaching availability in the event that he was fired from his head coaching position at Michigan, following the aforementioned altercation.
“I talked to some agents over the last couple of weeks,” said Johnson. “Once that happened, about eight NBA teams called to see if Juwan Howard would be fired so that they could get him in the NBA. That’s how much respect he has around basketball,” Johnson said.
Johnson also talked about the perspective of a young successful college coach — Howard is 49 — and the pressures of the job, Howard’s hunger to win and his inexperience with keeping his composure during tense moments.
Despite the overaggression, Howard’s intensity and willingness to fight for his team and keep the morale high is obviously something NBA teams respect.
“In my opinion, Juwan is a young coach — and what I know about covering sports, especially a young coach’s first time having an opportunity to be a head coach — dealing with the losing … the expectations can be very difficult. This is a growing opportunity for Juwan, he’s a wonderful person,” Johnson added.
With Howard’s coaching résumé and connections throughout the NBA factoring into this news, it is almost a certainty that Howard will have himself a coaching job in the NBA in the next few years should he wish to pursue one.
But Johnson’s story alone is proof of Howard’s pedigree, and how his name still carries weight in the hoops world decades after he was part of the “rock band” known as the Fab Five.
Howard, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson were the most polarizing, talented and controversial group of freshmen in NCAA history when they hit the scene in the ’90s. Now Howard’s making noise at his alma mater as a coach.
Howard’s props are well deserved. He’s had winning seasons in all three of his years coaching Michigan, in 2020 earning a Big Ten-best 23-5 record and nabbing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Howard expressed remorse for his actions against Wisconsin’s coaching staff stating, “After taking time to reflect on all that happened, I realize how unacceptable both my actions and words were, and how they affected so many. I am truly sorry. ”
He also apologized to Joe Krabbenhoft, his family, Michigan’s players as well, and to many other spectators who witnessed the incident.
Juwan Howard was ejected after exchanging some words with Maryland HC Mark Turgeon 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 12, 2021
Howard has accepted his punishment with reputation intact and served his suspension. He looks to get back to business on the sidelines as Michigan faces Indiana in the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, March 10.
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