Juwan Howard’s era: Feast Week preview (4–0)
Surrounded by old tape and echoes of one of the best classes ever recruited, Wolverines Express brings you personal takes and thoughts on the Juwan Howard’s era that just got started in Ann Arbor. It’s simply impossible to talk Michigan basketball without thinking of the huge impact the Fab Five had. And having Howard back makes you wonder what does the program need in order to reach those heights again. The challenge is huge, especially when you think of John Beilein, who made the Wolverines a perennial Big Ten power with real chances to win the National Championship twice, just like those swaggy guys in long shorts did in the early 90s.
It’s still early days for Juwan at the helm, working with a roster almost exclusively formed by Beilein’s recruits, although some NBA Draft buzz is missing these days in the Crisler Center without Iggy Brazdeikis, Jordan Poole and Charles Matthews. Juwan is keeping some familiar faces in his staff like Saddi Washington, and will rely as well on former St Joseph HC Phil Martelli’s vast knowledge of the College game. Luke Yaklich, the man responsible for Michigan’s defensive upgrade in the past two seasons, moved all the way to Texas. But that’s about right when you realize that Howard’s coaching experience as an NBA assistant with the Miami Heat came mainly as a defensive coach. Another of Juwan strong points has been working with bigs, and he’d like to exploit that in Michigan: look for the entry pass and the post-up, with senior 7’1 Jon Teske at the heart of things and reference in half court sets. Wolverines are trying to play some more up-tempo style too, not just emphasizing on transitions threes, but taking good looks when they come in the early seconds of the clock. The third cornerstone for these Wolverines has been largely anticipated by fans: upgrading the recruiting process. Michigan is aiming for higher ranked prospects than in previous seasons, and Juwan has offered scholarships to a few top names of the 2020 and 2021 classes, catching already promising guys like Isaiah Tood and Zeb Jackson.
All things said, Feast Week is heating up, and just before Michigan faces Iowa State in the first game of an absolutely loaded Battle 4 Atlantis, it’s time for us to take a closer look to Howard’s preferred 8-man rotation until now, still waiting for Franz Wagner who is said could play some part in Bahamas.