Friday night was a homecoming of sorts, albeit unofficially, for Michigan’s first-year men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard, who was once a star in his own right as a player in Ann Arbor.
In his current role at the helm of a new era of Wolverine basketball, his team opened up its 2019-20 campaign with a 82-51 exhibition victory over Saginaw Valley State. However, it wasn’t all warm and fuzzy feelings and a guy on the sidelines getting nostalgic.
Howard was asked after the game if he took a second to soak in coaching his alma mater. He cut right to business without even hesitating.
Howard wasn’t happy with how the ball moved on Friday night, saying that there were 19 possessions that ended in a quick shot after one pass. His focus is on coaching that better and he likes how his team responded with the ball movement and cutting back on uncharacteristic turnovers.
“No. That didn’t come to mind,” Howard said after the game. “I sort of broke away and looked around and said, ‘I gotta do a better job as a coach and getting our guys to respond to passing the basketball and sharing the game and not be so excited about taking one-pass shots.’”
“As you know, Saginaw Valley State made a big run (towards the latter part of the first half), and I love the fact that how we adjusted by staying calm and poised. The second half, we came out and decided we were going to hold the better and that we were going to do a better job defensively.”
Michigan attempted 31 three-pointers on Friday in the exhibition victory, which would have put them up there with last year’s team as some of the shot attempt numbers throughout the year.
Howard encourages his guys to shoot the ball if the opportunity is there, but he wants his team to do a better job of reading the game and knowing when the opportunity is correct.
“We shot 18 three-pointers in the first half and there were times where we could have made an extra pass to an open man who was located on the three-point line,” Howard said. “If you’re open, I want our guys to shoot it. I don’t want them to have to second guess or think the game or play like robots. I just want them to read the game. Read time and possession. Sometimes, it may be early in the shot clock and you shoot a contest three-pointer where a guy is draped on you.
“That’s not a good shot for us.”
Howard said that he is his own worst critic and he is always evaluating his performance and what he could have done better. Now that his first game as a collegiate head coach is in the books, he’ll look to make that next best improvement that he can while hopefully getting a few hours of sleep in the process.
“I want to go back tonight, sit down, think about the game,” Howard said. “Hope to get some sleep tonight. I know I may have a sleep disturbance where I wake up and start thinking about the game.”