Michigan basketball. The team in the Big Ten that has always set unprecedented standards not only in recruiting, but in culture. As of recent, the standards have been set lower, the culture feels different, and the coaching seems somewhat indolent.
The 12-year tenure of former head coach John Beilein was extremely successful. A 270-150 record, 4-time conference champion, and three Final Four appearances. He was one of six coaches to have a career 700 wins at each of the three levels he coached. His program set the bar, and the expectation was extremely high. With his unexpected departure to the NBA back in 2019, there came a culture change.
In came Juwan Howard, former Fab 5 standout and NBA assistant coach. His first season as head coach was nothing special, going 19-12 with a 10-10 conference record. His second season was his most successful and promising yet, with a final record 0f 23-5, a top 4 AP finish, and an NCAA tournament appearance. In bis third season, and because of COVID-19 mandates, there were fewer games played.
Juwan Howard’s progress at Michigan
However, the team went a moderate 11-9 and entered the tourney as the 11th seed. Currently, in his 4th season, this just simply has not looked like the basketball program we are used to. The team currently holds a 9-6 record with a 3-1 conference record. It may look okay in the numbers, but I think many Michigan fans would agree the games have become more frustrating.
Hunter Dickinson is obviously still the team star, averaging 18.7 PPG, and 8.1 RPG. The issue is not the front court; it lies within the back court. The single bright spot besides Hunter 0n this team has been Juwan’s son, Jett Howard. Jett has a very high ceiling and is averaging 14.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, all while shooting 45% from the field. Aside from Jett, fellow freshman Dug McDaniel has some work to do. Although young, Dug has been struggling. He is currently averaging 6.1 PPG, 3.1 APG, and shooting 38% from the field.
The thing that would help this team improve significantly would be better coaching and the improved development of the guards on the team. Although this is a young team, there has been little improvement or development shown. It has shown this season in a loss at home to Central Michigan and a close win against Eastern Michigan. I hope to see more development and progression for this team in the future. As for coach Howard, I still believe in him and his talent. I would not consider him to be on the bot seat as yet, but us fans are expecting better results.
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Photo credit: Detroit Free Press