John Beilein: ‘Juwan Howard Was A Great Selection’
Former Michigan head coach John Beilein is still keeping busy, working as a Big Ten Network analyst and keeping busy with Zoom calls to former players and assistant coaches in addition to media. He’s been impressed with the Wolverines, having kept a close eye on some of his former players and Juwan Howard’s additions.
The result has been fun to watch. Though he didn’t get a say in his replacement, obviously, Beilein said he thought at the time Howard would be a good successor.
“Why I thought Juwan was a great selection … in my exchanges and communication with alums, Juwan always stood out to me as a guy who really honored his time at Michigan,” Beilein said. “He came back and graduated from Michigan.
“When we talked in the offseason, he was really thirsty to learn about the game. Here’s this guy, two decades in the NBA, a coach with the Miami Heat, and he was thirsty to talk with our staff about basketball. When he comes in, he comes from the Heat culture where it is about hard work, not about stardom and all-star teams. The team is the star. That fit right with the Michigan mold.”
So, too, did Howard's hires. He kept assistant Saddi Washington as the holdover, and he added a great teacher in former NBA player Howard Eisley and the consummate college coach in veteran Phil Martelli.
They’ve come together to set an outstanding example for their players.
“What a staff he put together,” Beilein continued. “To keep the guys he kept, so there was still some retention there for recruiting, philosophy and culture, and then to add his own identification with his own personality, Howard Eisley, and then bringing in Phil Martelli … he’s been through this before. I think they won 26 games in a row at St. Joe’s. To bring him on board was really a tremendous decision he made, because Phil’s really got a lot of everything that you need, just like the team.
“The team mirrors the coaching staff — very talented, and this isn’t their first rodeo, either. They’ve all been through it a lot.”
The Wolverines will have a lot to prove after a two-week lockdown, one that figures to delay them from getting back on the court until Feb. 7. But those questioning whether the early success was a mirage are wondering no more, Beilein said.
“I think everyone realizes now it’s for real,” he said. “They’ve proven where they are right now, but there’s a long way to go in the schedule. They’ll handle it beautifully, but there will be bumps in the road here and there, and they’ll handle them, and it will make them better. But they’re good. Legitimate. I don’t get too much into top five, No. 1, No. 1 seed, but they can with the Big Ten championship, and if you can win the Big Ten championship, you can win the national championship. It’s that simple.
‘There’s a lot of basketball to be played, and you’ve got to have some breaks. Look at some of our runs to championship games. We needed a Trey Burke three from 40 feet and Jordan Poole’s shot. You need some breaks to get there, but they do have a lot of what it takes to get there.”
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