The Michigan Wolverines tasted blood in their mouths for the first time this season after a loss at Minnesota over the weekend, which was their first of the season. In a vacuum, that is allowable at this point of the season, but all that was going to matter was what came next.
Michigan followed it up with an 87-63 victory at home over Maryland on Tuesday night. Head coach Juwan Howard was able to help guide his group back into the win column. Instead of their issues snowballing, the Wolverines were able to put the past behind them and turn in another complete effort.
Howard said a stone was set as soon as the team stepped off the plane following the return trip from Minnesota.
“I saw it the first day of practice, the mindset of how guys came into practice,” Howard said after the win. “Not looking for excuses, not looking for ‘Hey, we played without one of our key guys.’ Looking for solutions. ‘Hey, let’s get in this gym. What can we do better? What do we need to work on and improve?’ When you have that type of mindset, looking for solutions, it didn’t surprise me the mindset the team was playing with today.”
Michigan has stacked up more wins than what was expected of them before the start of the season, but the hunger for more was a big part of what led to the turnaround from the setback against the Gophers over the weekend. Howard’s team was also ready for Maryland’s attempt to avenge the loss in the previous meeting on Dec. 31.
“Our team’s about competitors, and they have the mindset of we’re for competitors only,” Howard said. “Maryland is a really good team. Very physical, hard-nosed, play tough. Have a really versatile team, built with a lot of toughness because their coach has had a lot of success in the last 10 years. He’s a very good coach, and we knew he was going to have them ready to go. When we played them there in their building and won, they hadn’t forgotten, and they had a lot of days to prepare for this game.
“Our guys understood that this was a big game, a big bounce-back game for us, but we had to be ready to go from the time the ball was tipped. So the unselfish play, how well we shot the ball, 20 assists, 10 turnovers with 29 field goals, that shows how selfless this group is.”
One of the trademarks of the Wolverines this season has been a roster filled with players that are not concerned with what the box score looks like. This has led to a different combination of players leading the way almost every time out. Howard believes that speaks to the culture that has grown since the offseason.
“We have a culture built on enjoying each other’s success,” Howard said. “So everything you’re seeing right now is because of the culture that myself and the staff have instilled, and our guys are bought in.”
Michigan will get a chance at another win on the road when they travel to Purdue for a Friday night tilt with the Boilermakers, who have been on a hot streak of their own. That game will tip-off at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.