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Michigan basketball: Juwan Howard is not on the hot seat… yet

Michigan basketball is having one of its worst seasons in recent memory – who or what is to blame?




Alright, I’ll get straight to the point here. This season has been a tough one to watch for Michigan basketball fans. There aren’t many other ways to say it, and if I’m being frank, I don’t have a solid answer for why it’s gone so poorly. The team has plenty of talent, and they have tons of veteran presence in the form of players like Hunter Dickinson and Terrance Williams II.

Still, things have not panned out like many thought, and it’s starting to look concerning. Over the last two seasons, Michigan has gone 30-25 and has seemingly regressed this season. In Juwan Howard’s four seasons as head coach of the Wolverines, Michigan has finished better than 8th in the Big Ten just once. Of course, in that one season, the team finished 23-5 on the year with a trip to the Elite Eight.

Talent is not the issue

Since Juwan Howard has been head coach, plenty of talent has flowed in and out of the Michigan basketball program. In fact, in the last three classes, Howard has brought in 12 players boasting a 4-star rating or better per 247Sports. That includes players like Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan, Moussa Diabate, Kobe Bufkin and so many more.

Clearly, talent is not an issue for the Wolverines, which raises some question marks. Things such as whether there is something wrong with how Howard is coaching his team or if there’s some disconnect between him and the players have begun to come into question.

Ultimately, I am comfortable shutting down any rumors of a disconnect in the locker room. Howard already has two sons on the team, and it’s not difficult to see that the players love to play for him. I’m not entirely sure what is wrong, but with talent like what Michigan has, there’s no reason to struggle this much.

Transfer portal issues

No, coach Juwan Howard does not have any issues using the transfer portal. Instead, he might have a problem with overusing it. In the last three seasons, Michigan has brought in five transfers, three of which have been point guards.

On one side, this shows that people want an opportunity to not only play for Michigan but that they want to play for Juwan Howard. Still, I have concerns regarding team chemistry. While I’m sure all the players who have joined the program are great men, it’s challenging to build a connection with your teammates if you have a brand-new starter every season.

It is promising, however, that Dug McDaniel has shown so much improvement over this past season. In fact, McDaniel could be the first point guard to start for Michigan two seasons in a row since Juwan Howard joined the program.

Do not pull the plug yet

Michigan basketball fans have grown to expect a certain level of play from their favorite team. Making the NCAA Tournament and competing for National Titles became the usual, so these past couple of seasons have been difficult to swallow.

Still, as I mentioned previously, this is a young team that is learning to play with each other. Young guys like Dug McDaniel, Tarris Reed Jr and Kobe Bufkin are finding their rhythm and should improve immensely over the offseason.

However, with that being said, it will be essential to watch the growth of the team next season. If they struggle yet again and don’t show the ability to play together, this could spell out disaster for coach Juwan Howard. He’s a legend at the University of Michigan no matter what, but if he wants to stay on as head coach into the future, he’ll need to show more than what he has so far.

The Wolverines return to action this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. EST at Northwestern. Their season is not over by any means, but they have hit the point where every game could be a must-win if they want to have the opportunity to make a run in March.

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A recent graduate from Kalamazoo College, Tyler has four years experience in sports writing. He currently works as assistant editor for Blue By Ninety and specializes in a variety of sports such as football, swimming and diving, and basketball.