Beyond the Arc
by Ben Fiore
This week, former college star,NBA player, and NBA assistant coach of the Miami Heat Juwan Howard was signed by the University of Michigan to become the Wolverines’ newest head basketball coach to replace long time coach John Beilein.
Juwan Howard was historically a part of one of the greatest college basketball teams in NCAA history, “the Fab Five”. This was the first team to ever have all 5 starters as freshmen. The majority of them played between 1991-1994. Juwan was an absolute college beast and the clear vocal leader of the team. Though they sadly fell short each year and never won a national title, then followed by a mediocre at best NBA career for Howard. But it’s clear that his true calling was coaching. Seeing that Michigan signed him to a 5 year, $10 mil guaranteed contract, you would hope that’s true. As an assistant coach in Miami for the last few years, he won two championships as a part of that Heat team in 2012 and 2013. Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Udoins Haslem, and countless former Heat players and coaches all say that Juwan is the real deal as a coach and is more knowledgeable and inspiring than a majority of head coaches in the NBA.
There were rumors that he would possibly become an NBA coach this offseason with teams like the Lakers or Cavaliers. And as much as he deserves an NBA HC job, it was poetic justice for him to go back to Michigan as a coach this time. Juwan’s individual legacy there was even greater than the Fab Five’s considering he stuck around with a good attitude and didn’t draw as much drama around him as teammates such as Jalen Rose and Chris Webber. To this very day, he is revered as possibly the most respected player there in school history. And who better to lead that team through the vacant coaching position than someone so talented, ready and respected? Michigan has had a very successful basketball program these last few seasons, and I am in full agreement with Michigan’s athletic director’s faith in coach Howard.
Players and coaches from both the NBA and NCAA are beyond thrilled for him. Jalen Rose has talked about the fact that Juwan getting hired there was a symbol of squashing any beef between the Fab Five, or the University and them itself. The congratulations have come in massive waves from people all over the basketball community. And if you know Juwan Howard at all, you should be just as happy for him too.
I am predicting now that Juwan Howard will not only bring the Wolverines to the same level that long time coach John Beilein did, but surpass that. I could definitely see that team winning a natty while he is there in his first contract. The only worries from people are if he will live up to the hype or fall in Beilein’s shadow. I think he’s going to shine there and make that program even more successful than it already was.
There is truly no better fit for Juwan Howard than Michigan. This guy is the most exciting up and coming head coach in basketball, and this is by far my feel good story of the week. Go blue!