The Maize n Brew staff collaborated ahead of Juwan Howard’s first regular season game as the head coach of Michigan Basketball to discuss what the expectations for his first year at the helm could be and what would make a successful debut season.
Let’s get right to it.
“This season, all you can really ask for is steady improvement and a solid foundation for the Juwan Howard era. That probably means competing for an NCAA Tournament bid. There are going to be a ton of growing pains early on from both the players and Howard as he continues to work himself into a head coach, which is something he has never done before. They are going to stay hot for now on the recruiting trail and this year is going to be all about backing up some of these recruits’ decisions to roll the dice on a program that has a lot of questions moving through this transition. The ceiling of this team may not be in the hands of Zavier Simpson, Isaiah Livers and Jon Teske, but rather in the development of Michigan’s sophomore class of David DeJulius, Brandon Johns, Colin Castleton and Adrian Nunez. Mix that in with the return of Franz Wagner a month from now, and this is going to be a fun, athletic group to watch.”
“In order for Juwan Howard to have a successful year, he’s gotta do a couple things. First, guys like Brandon Johns and Colin Castleton need to take steps forward. Howard has to show that he is capable of making the best out of his guys.
Also, he’s gotta prove he’s capable of being competitive in the Big Ten. Michigan may get swept by MSU again, but Howard needs to make those games competitive. Getting a few in conference road wins is important. My expectations aren’t out of this world, but a winning record within the big ten is expected. “
“I think all they need to do is make the tournament. The Isaiah Todd commitment was obviously important to get the ball rolling on recruiting, but I also think it set up Howard to have a true year 0. If things don’t look crisp or Wagner is out extended time, it’s a lot easier for the fan base to throw its hands up and go “well, it’s his first year, and he’s got all these guys coming.” With that said, the team has talent and a fourth coach in Zavier Simpson, and a collapse in Big Ten play will reflect poorly on Howard’s actual coaching skills, even if things are going well off-court.
“To insulate against Big Ten play getting bumpy, they can’t afford to slip up in a buy game and have a NET anchor. From there, they need to go 3-3 out of the Creighton/Oregon/Louisville/Iowa State/Other Bahamas set. Going 8-3 in non-con likely allows you to hover around .500 in conference play and still make the tourney. Anything past that is gravy. It’d be cool to go 2-1 in the Bahamas with the only loss being to UNC. It’d be cool if they at least split the December B1G games (Iowa, @Illinois). It’d be cool to take the Crisler leg of Michigan/MSU. It’d be cool to play a round past our seed in the NCAA Tournament. But even if nothing “cool” happens, a solid-but-unremarkable season with good recruiting developments will allow Michigan fans to head into the off-season excited about the direction of their team.”
“There are players with a lot of experience in this program. While Juwan is about to enter his first year as head coach, I am confident he will have a successful first season. To me, that would mean staying competitive in the Big Ten, making a run in the conference Championship and making the NCAA Tournament. The betting line on overall total wins, according to DraftKings, is 19.5 wins, and think Howard exceeds that in his first year.”
“Making it to the NCAA Tournament. Any time you go through a head coaching change, there are bound to be more mistakes than not during the first year of that transition. If Juwan Howard and the Wolverines are able to make it to the NCAA Tournament, I would consider that a step in the right direction and a successful first year of Michigan basketball under the new regime.”
“In a word, change and stability. A new coach will always have a few bumps in the road, but if Juwan Howard can come in, install HIS system, limit the growing pains, and win around 20 games, this season will be a success. 2020 has to viewed as first step in the process and it will be fun to watch this team and Howard grow and progress throughout the season.”
“The biggest thing that Juwan Howard needs to do in Year One is give the fan base confidence. Howard inherited a depleted roster and has to succeed one of the most successful coaches in school history, but expectations at Michigan are still high. Even if it takes a few years for him to get back to the levels that John Beilein took the team to, Howard must show that he is on that path from the start. Different fans will have different benchmarks, but a top-five conference finish and at least one NCAA Tournament win would be a solid start for the Howard era.”
“Top-5 in Big Ten and a NCAA Tournament appearance.”
“Accomplishes 2 of following:
1. Make the NCAA tournament
2. Ranked road win
3. Top 4 finish in the conference”
What would you consider a successful debut season for Juwan Howard? Sound off in the comments below!