Unlike many of his fellow Big Ten coaches, Michigan head coach Juwan Howard didn’t have prior college coaching experience when the Wolverines hired him in 2019. That hasn’t stopped him from going 33-13 in just 1.5 years, nor has it stopped people from criticizing him.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Howard took some time to address criticisms of his coaching. He made it clear that his upbringing made him a very competitive person very early on.
Howard dismissed the idea that he isn’t competitive or not a great gameplanner. He pointed out that he wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about plays and different situations.
The Michigan head coach declared that he spent years preparing to be a head coach. He plans to keep working to perfect his craft.
“Of course I’ve heard it,” Howard said. “You’re trying to get me to make this — no, I’m not saying you’re trying to get me. I’m not here to make this a big issue. I just want to tell you this: I’ve always been very, extremely competitive since I started playing sports, whether it was basketball, baseball. I didn’t play competitive football, but in our neighborhood, we did play against each neighborhood’s park in football, where it was tackle football with no equipment. That level of mental toughness has prepared me for whatever has been thrown in my direction.
“Yeah, I hear the doubters. I’m not gonna sit here like I don’t hear the noise before I got hired. And also, still, to this day, I hear the backhanded compliments. Am I competitive? Of course, I am. But I’m also about improving and having the growth mindset of how I can get better to be the best version of myself to help prepare this team, and more importantly to represent this fine institution the best way possible. That’s my No. 1 goal. That’s what drives me. That’s what really excites me.
“Yeah, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about plays, thinking about defensive situations, thinking about how I can get better, how I can help prepare the team. Because I’m a perfectionist. I have that — if you see my desk now, I’m a very organized person, but as my wife says, I have this type A personality. That’s how I’m wired. I wouldn’t have been able to last 19 years in the NBA if I didn’t have a certain edge about me. To get back into coaching, for six years as an assistant coach, the Miami Heat staff and also I took upon myself to prepare myself to become a head coach someday. I worked at this. And I’m gonna continue to keep working. I love it. People always doubt or have their (own) opinions. And they have every right to their opinion.”
Juwan Howard and the Wolverines are 14-1 this season and are currently riding a three-game winning streak. They are the No. 3 ranked team in the nation and look very much like a national title contender.
There are some big tests for Michigan in the final few weeks of the season. But Howard definitely has the right mindset to get them over that final hump.
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