The non-pandemic-related college basketball story of the day is Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard’s ejection from the quarterfinal win over the Maryland Terrapins on Friday. He and Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon were involved in a verbal spat that saw both benches empty and Howard need to be held back.
The television broadcast never explicitly said what led to the altercation and it was not apparent what had been said. A fake post made its way through social media stating that Turgeon commented on Michigan’s banners about Howard’s presence on the Fab Five. That was determined to be false as both coaches shared what happened from their point of view after the game.
“This has been going on for three games,” Turgeon said. “I’ve been doing this for 34 years, and I called the conference office, called the commissioner about what transpired in the first two games. I said I wasn’t going to take it the third game. So I stood up for my team, I stood up for me. There’s a rumor out there saying that I said something about the banner. All I said is, ‘Don’t talk to me.’ There was nothing about a banner. Never backed down. I just stood there and said ‘Don’t talk to me.’ That’s it. The commissioner of the league, the league was well-aware of what transpired the first two games. They’ll handle it from here. But I thought I was as professional as I could try to be in the moment, standing up for myself. I’ve been doing this for 34 years of doing the right way and for Maryland basketball. That’s all I did. Stood up for myself and my program and said, ‘Don’t talk to me.’ And then it escalated.”
Here is Howard’s full and uncut response to what took place on Friday afternoon:
“I have respect for everyone’s time and also during this situation. I’m just gonna say it one time, so please, write your notes. After this, let’s talk about basketball. At the end of the day, first, I want to apologize to my team, which I did in the locker room for my actions. That’s not the way how you handle situations like that under adverse moments. You can’t let your emotions get the best of you. I love the fact of how our guys stepped up and supported their coach, because they know I always want to support them. But I always want to take ownership when I’m wrong and admit when I’m wrong. So that’s not the right way to handle that situation.
“Now, my version, because there’s always gonna be so many versions. My version, this version — but at the end of the day, my version, I’ll tell you the truth of how it all happened. I noticed that Smith went for the offensive rebound and it went off his hands last, but the referees called the ball out of bounds and I think it was their possession. I’m like no, that’s not how I saw it. So I was out of the coaching box. And I went down to explain that it was (not) off of Smith. It’s tough to communicate when it’s loud and also when you have your mask on. So Turgeon said that I was out of the box. He told the referee to look at my feet, I’m out of the box, and I was like, ‘C’mon man, that’s what we’re worried about? My feet being out of the box?’ So he said to me, ‘Juwan, I’m not gonna let you talk to me. I’m never gonna let you talk to me ever again,’ and then he charged at me! And that right there — I don’t know how you guys were raised, but how I was raised by my grandmother and also by Chicago, because I was raised by Chicago and I grew up on the south side, when guys charge you, it’s time to defend yourself. Especially when a grown man charges you. And that right there, I went into defense mode, forgetting exactly where I’m at. Because that’s not the right way to handle a situation when you come in and charge someone. I didn’t charge him, so, when he charged me, I reacted, and I reacted out of defense. So, that’s it, my version of things. And then, I got tossed.
“That’s the story. Like I said, you’re gonna hear his side, you’re gonna hear my side. You guys can write the narrative. But that’s all I have to say about that.”
Howard and his team have made it a habit to make some enemies this year, but this was the most notable dustup of the season. We will have the Maryland game circled next season after both coaches saw their frustrations boil over on Friday afternoon.
First, the Wolverines will finish their postseason. They will play in the Big Ten Semifinals on Saturday afternoon before the NCAA Tournament kicks off next week.