The Michigan Wolverines made major news on Wednesday as the program made its move and hired its replacement for the recently departed John Beilein. The program opted to hire former program great Juwan Howard away from the Miami Heat to replace Beilein. This will be Howard’s first head coaching opportunity. Jeff Goodman first reported the news.
Juwan Howard has agreed to a 5-year deal to become the Michigan head coach, source told @Stadium.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) May 22, 2019
While Wolverine fans were likely never going to get someone to fill Beilein’s shoes, Howard should bring some excitement to the program. He is most well known for being one of the key members of the Fab Five in the early 1990s, but has made his living the last few years as an assistant with the Miami Heat in the NBA. Over the last few months, Howard has interviewed for multiple NBA head coach openings, including with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who opted to hire Beilein. Many believe Howard has a tremendous understanding of the defensive side of the floor and believe he could be a difference maker there.
Of course, even if there are some reasons for optimism, there are plenty of reasons for concerns as well.
To start, Howard has never been a head coach before. Even though no hire is a guarantee, there’s a pretty mixed track record of assistants moving into head coaching positions, especially coaches coming from the NBA into college. A big reason for this is recruiting. The job is arguably as much about recruiting as it is coaching and it’s difficult to gauge how an NBA coach with no college experience will do on that front.
Moreover, Howard is going to have to adjust his style significantly. Michigan may have some talent, but nowhere near what Howard is used to seeing in the NBA. Schemes and plays that work in the NBA might just not work at the college level. And it’s hard for us to speculate on how Howard will adjust on this front. Perhaps he hits the ground running, or requires a transition period.
There’s little doubt Michigan fans are excited to see one of their own come home to take over in Ann Arbor. And what happens now is a total mystery. Howard could keep things rolling, or fail miserably in the coming seasons. There’s really no telling at this point. Either way, it should be exciting to follow in the years ahead.