The Wolverines are a true bubble team hoping to go at least .500 down the stretch for an opportunity to make the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
Howard slapped Wisconsin’s assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft during a skirmish following a blowout loss to the Badgers in Madison, Wisconsin. Following an embarrassing 77-63 loss, Howard lost his cool, and to be frank; he’s lucky that the University of Michigan still employs him.
Michigan basketball’s head coach Juwan Howard was suspended for the rest of the regular season.
This escalated late in the ball game, with the Badgers maintaining a double-digit lead. Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard emptied his bench to close out the final minutes of the ball game.
Instead of allowing the Badgers to inbound the ball and run out the clock, in turn, conceding the victory, Howard and the Wolverines deployed a full-court press with their starters still on the floor. The Wolverines forced a turnover and scored a bucket, and following that, the Badgers backups were struggling to inbound the basketball prompting Gard to call a timeout.
The timeout was to draw up an inbound play to get the ball into play successfully. This infuriated Howard, who took the time out as a sign of disrespect. Later, Gard would justify the time out by reminding everyone that he had his bench in the ball game and did not want to put his kids in a position to fail. Call me crazy, but that seems like a logical reason to me.
Following the game, Howard avoided the handshake line before eventually jumping in. As Howard walked past Gard, he pulled down his mask and said, “I’ll remember that sh-t.” referring to the timeout. Howard tried to continue walking past Gard without giving the Badgers bench boss a chance to respond. Gard grabbed Howard’s forearm, claiming later that he was trying to explain to Howard why he elected to call a timeout, but Howard wasn’t having any of it, and chaos on the court followed.
You can hear Howard say, “don’t touch me.” This doesn’t in any way, shape, or form justify Howard’s actions, but if Gard could have checked the temperature in the room and understood, ok, there is no reasoning with Howard right now and allowed him to keep moving, this likely doesn’t escalate to this embarrassing level.
Howard could have also simply remained out of the handshake line, in turn, leaving the court and, when questioned by the media, merely explaining that he wasn’t in the right state of mind immediately following the conclusion of the game. Clarify that he was upset with how things ended and needed to cool off.
Instead, Howard entered the handshake line looking for a fight, and the slight grab on the arm was a reason to throw down. The fact that Howard swung at an assistant coach, not even Gard, tells me he was looking for a fight and for Michigan Basketball; that’s embarrassing.
Following the incident, Howard didn’t make matters better with his comments. Rather than apologizing and stating that he made a mistake and got caught up in the moment, Howard tried to justify his actions by claiming self-defense. Self-defense? Really? Howard is a foot taller than Gard. The video is attached to this altercation. Re-watch it and tell me where Howard should feel threatened.
Michigan’s athletic director, Warde Manuel, quickly released the following statement;
“The school will review the situation more thoroughly and work with the Big Ten Conference as they determine their disciplinary actions and will determine if further disciplinary actions are warranted.”
A college head coach is supposed to be a leader of young adults; acting this way certainly will impact the future and recruiting in a negative way. I would guess nearly 50% of NCAA head coaches would be fired for an altercation like this, so Howard is lucky to keep his job. On the bright side, Howard can use this latest interaction as a lesson and hope to learn and grow from it.
This isn’t the first time Howard has toed a fine line between foolishness and insanity. Last season Howard reportedly threatened Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon before being ejected in the second half of the 2021 BIG Ten quarterfinal matchup. Howard yelled across the court” “I’ll f—ing kill you,”
Howard will be on a zero-tolerance policy once he returns to Michigan basketball’s sideline.