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Presser transcript: Everything Juwan Howard said ahead of season opener vs. App State

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Juwan Howard spoke to the media on Monday afternoon ahead of Tuesday’s season opener against Appalachian State, set for a 7 p.m. ET tipoff from Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. Below is a full transcript of everything he had to say on Monday.

Opening Statement

“It’s great. Tomorrow will be our first non-conference game. I know the last game was an exhibition game at home. Tomorrow, we are looking forward to playing against Appalachian State. We’re looking forward to the matchup. I know our fans are excited to get a chance to see our players compete at a high level. Our players are pumped. Looking forward to a packed crowd and so it’s always good to play at home against a team who where you’re feeling like...you’re knowing the students are there and all the fans filling the house getting the support you’ve been looking for all year long. Our players are working extremely hard in practice and are looking forward to tomorrow’s matchup.”

On the experience of being a college head coach so far

“It’s fun, man. It’s really exciting to see the energy. Yes of course being at home and being at Crisler, but I know whenever we’re on the road, just having the fans go against you and root for their team. But overall, I really enjoy this college experience and think it’s going to be an exciting time for not only myself, but for our players moving forward.”

On what his biggest takeaway was from the exhibition game last Friday

“What I recall was, when we had that drought, the team (SVSU) came back and cut the lead to four. Just to watch the adversity that we went through and looking at everyone’s body language, no one was rattled. We looked very calm. We looked like a connected team that was together. I think that was a true test as far as how to get yourself out of that rut and I think we did a really good job of that. I was proud of our guys for that.”

On Isaiah Livers’ performance and how he’s doing what’s asked of him

Isaiah had a really good game. I’m very proud of him and how he competed. He made some good shots, some really good possessions out there on the floor. He did some really good offensive stuff...made some tough shots, shot well from the three. Got out in transition and finished well at the basket. Defensively, it was an average game for him. He owned it. Right now as we speak, he’s trying to be that defensive leader and two-way player that we have asked of him and I think he’s going to have a really good year.

On scouting for App State, who also has a first-year head coach

“It’s tough. It’s tough to scout against a team that hasn’t played. I know they had a scrimmage. They didn’t give us the tape (laughs). I understand, where they are coming from. They are keeping it in house. But it’s going to be a big surprise. We have to prepare just like we would prepare against any opponent. We have to go out there and do what we do defensively and get active. Be aggressive, but also be smart. Try to limit the fouls and keep them off the free throw line. Try to limit their open shots as well as protect the paint. From last year, I know their coach since last season at Presbyterian, so looking at some of the matchups that he had last year with some of his opponents has been helpful, but is not an accurate indication as far as what to expect tomorrow.”

On the captain selection process

“We haven’t discussed captains yet.”

On how he likes his players responding each day

“I’ve been very happy overall with just how our guys have responded to practices. I’ve been how they responded coming off of an off day and practice the next day. They’ve been very professional and responsible taking care of their bodies. Then, coming into practice after an off day, as a coach, you’re concerned, because sometimes rhythm is off and you’re worried about players and their level of focus, but our guys have been very businesslike throughout the process and I trust our players on how they approach each and every game and also each and every practice.”

On adjustments he’s had to make as a coach during the preseason

“Going back to the Detroit scrimmage, we played against a lot of zone. In the NBA, you don’t see a ton of zone, but you still see some. I know at the collegiate level, just with Detroit, they played a 1-3-1, so there was some good adjustments and good reps that, as a coach, I had to learn on the fly, coach on the fly, and it was great reps for me. And I think we got better with it. Versus Saginaw Valley State, they played 1-2-2 on a three-quarter setting, as well as a 2-3 zone, so it was good to face a 2-3 zone, which we practice. We just prepare for it. I expect tomorrow, we may see some 3-2 zone and possibly some 2-3. But preparation is big with us and we want to make sure we are not surprised by anything.”

On if there’s anything they need to see before bigger non-conference games

“Every game is important to us. We take it game by game, day by day. We’re not looking past tomorrow. Tuesday, we’re locked in on that. It’s a big day of game prep. Tomorrow, we will come in and prep more for Appalachian State and get ready to play the game.”

On the identity of his basketball team

“Well, our identity is we play together. We play hard. We play for one another. That is the type of spirited energy that we want to see our guys display tomorrow. I trust that they will be prepared. That they will understand the game plan and we will have great carryover.”

On the 31 shot attempts from the perimeter during Friday’s exhibition

“We shot 31 threes. I looked after the game and was like ‘wow, I didn’t know we put up that many.’ But all I recall was that we had, in the first half, 16 possessions that there was one pass and then a shot. So, we have to improve in that area. I didn’t like the fact that we didn’t do a good job sharing the basketball. We didn’t get enough ball movement. But sometimes, defenses give you that chance of...you have a moment of...you’re open at one point and you look up and that window closes right away. So, it’s part of reading the game and reading time and possession situations where, you look up and you’re like ‘wow, I have an open shot’ but then you have in your peripheral to your left, your teammate is wide open. So sometimes, you have to pass up a good shot for a better job and in the second half we made that adjustment and we did a better job of moving the basketball.”

On how he encourages players to shoot if it’s the right situation

“Well, I want our guys to pretty much take the open shot and it may be an open three. If it is, I don’t want our guys to pass up open shots. Whether it’s an open two, take the open two. But it’s more like, read the game. Read time and possessions. And we will get better in that area. You know, it’s part of, you watch film. Film is some of the best teaching when it comes to basketball. Some guys are visual learners. Some guys have high IQs. Those who are visual learners, we have film that’s available to see because sometimes you’re out there competing and you’re adrenaline is flowing and the crowd is out there and you have the lights on. I always call it, when the lights are on and the popcorn is popping, sometimes we have to take a deep breath, exhale, and allow the game to flow and let it come to you. We have some guys that haven’t played in a long time and their first time playing, and I get it. I was once them, too. You’re adrenaline is pumping and you want to have the best version and you’re best game you want to make sure you give your home fans something special to cheer for.”

On how outside shooting is a strength of the team

“Outside shooting is definitely a strength for us. We worked a lot in the summer time. We also worked a lot in preseason on our shooting. We have some really good shooters that do a very good job of knocking down shots. I trust our guys who have put up those shot that some, yes, they missed. I welcome them to shoot it again and I trust that it will go in.”

Full exchange on the recruits that he mentioned by name (more on that here)

Howard: “It’s been good. We’re still grinding, plugging away. There are some guys out there who we’ve offered to and we’re in the running. Hunter Dickinson is one. Moses Moody is the other. Nimari Burnett — oops, I don’t know if I should be mentioning...”

U-M spokesperson: “You should not. You can’t mention recruits.”

Howard: “Aw shucks. You see that’s one of the NCAA rules I have to really get to understand and learn throughout this process. That’s a part of the college coaching that’s different from the NBA coaching but no excuses. I will learn these rules.”

On the process of preparing for tomorrow’s game

“Well, we have a practice today and we’re looking forward to getting into practice and getting some good work in. Building on our offense and preparing defensively for App State. I’m sure that guys are going to come in so focused and ready to go because they are excited about tomorrow and so am I.”

On why Tuesday’s opener isn’t his first game at Michigan

“Well, on Friday, that was like my first game, really as the head coach at the University of Michigan. I don’t know how you guys take it. Some people take it as an exhibition that doesn’t count. But for me and how we planned, and how we planned out the season, every game counts. Tomorrow, yes it’s going to be a game where it’s going to be a packed house I assume because yes, it’s the bobblehead night. My bobblehead (laughs). So that’s going to be funny. But I know the energy is going to be beautiful in the building. As a former player and now as a coach here at Crisler, to see a crowd that’s going to come out tomorrow night and cheer for us, I’m excited about that opportunity.”

On the expectations for the 2019-20 season

“Well, I have high expectations for this team. High goals. Our team has goals to be a winning team, a team that’s going to compete. Our goal is to do well in the Big Ten, try to win the Big Ten Tournament, also NCAA championship, our goal is to win. I can’t come in here and tell you that we just want to play average basketball. We want to win. That’s what we do. That’s why we work hard in practice. Our guys are competitors. They have a super-competitive coach. We’re going to do whatever we can to prepare ourselves to win each and every ballgame.”