The Michigan Wolverines are on a three-game winning streak, after defeating Nebraska at home, and now have some momentum heading into an important matchup against Indiana on Saturday night.
After that Nebraska game, head Juwan Howard not only took some time to praise the team, but also took three minutes — an eternity for him for those who have watched his press conferences —to praise LeBron James, who passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and broke the all-time scoring record Tuesday night.
"LeBron is a gift ... Let's admire and appreciate what @KingJames brings to the game."— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) February 9, 2023
Amazing thoughts from @JuwanHoward on the new @NBA scoring leader.
〽️ #ForCompetitorsOnly#GoBlue pic.twitter.com/o8fPNYKGi9
Howard got to know James pretty well when he was in the NBA, as he played with him for three seasons with the Miami Heat and was an assistant coach in James’ final season in Miami. I encourage you to watch this full clip above; it might be the best soundbite Howard has had all season.
Post-game quotes about Michigan
The Wolverines used a balanced scoring attack to beat the Cornhuskers, with six players finishing in double figures. Jett Howard led all Wolverines with 22 points in the win, and the Wolverines got 18 points off the bench.
“It was great to see that offensively we made plays, because we were playing unselfish,” Howard said. “Our defense generated a lot of our offense, starting with the second unit, they were very active defensively. It was nice to have great balance from the starting group.”
The Wolverines were able to climb to a 41-17 lead before Hunter Dickinson even took a shot. We know how good of a scorer Dickinson can be, but Howard loved how this team was able to generate easy buckets because of the defense they played.
“When you’re playing good defensively, active getting deflections, limit your opponent to one-shot opportunities, doing your job when communicating on the defensive end as well as on drives guys stepping up — whether it’s taking charges or protecting the rim — that’s when good things are going to happen,” Howard said. “When you look at what we have, 10 new guys — it takes some time to develop game by game, it doesn’t always start out early. This is the new landscape of college basketball, it takes time.”
Terrance WIlliams II had one of his better games of the season, scoring 11 points, his first game in double figures since the first day of the New Year. Howard praised him for the stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score.
“It’s not as cute, it’s not as sexy — everyone looks at the box score and says ‘man, he only scored five points’ and there’s like an uproar,” Howard said. “This guy knows how to play, and he does a lot of things that really help our team, and I’m just happy that we have a Terrance Williams.”
The Wolverines had a few members of staff out for this game dur to illness; Phil Martelli and trainer Chris Williams were both out with COVID-19, and wing Isaiah Barnes was also out with a non-COVID illness.
“We’re still living in some challenging times,” Howard said. “As you can see through college basketball, there are teams that are canceling games and unfortunately, for those affected by health situations, all I do is pray for them. Not even just our staff and players but everyone across college basketball and outside college basketball. For one minute, we thought we were in the clear, and it affects us again. I guess this is how we have to live for the future. We’re going to continue to keep staying positive through the process, keep praying and hopefully we can figure this thing out.”
This is the first three-game winning streak for the Wolverines since the first three games of the season. When asked about momentum the team has built, Howard reiterated a sentiment he’s preached all year.
“One game at a time,” Howard said. “One game at a time.