Michigan Basketball: Phil Martelli, Juwan Howard Prove To Be A Great Match
Juwan Howard wasn’t necessarily planning on hiring Phil Martelli as his right-hand man when he first contacted him via phone after taking the Michigan head coaching position. Like most, Howard knew of the former St. Joseph icon’s impeccable reputation as a coach and person, and he wanted advice as a first-time head coach.
The longer the two spoke, however, the more it became clear that Martelli would be the perfect guy to help him in his first head coaching stint.
That self-awareness — that regardless of the success he’d had at all levels as a player and as an NBA assistant coach, he could still use the experience of someone with Martelli’s credentials — was one of many eye-opening moments for Martelli when contemplating Howard’s offer to join him at U-M. Martelli prides himself on really knowing people. Howard turned out to be as genuine as he’d hoped, something he realized throughout his first year on staff.
“First and foremost, we became instantaneous friends. There’s a mutual respect there, an openness to sharing, and I just think he’s a really, really special guy,” Martelli said. “I’ve often told people that as we were going through this.
“I ended up talking to [former NBA coach] Jeff Van Gundy. He asked me, ‘well, what do you know about him? I said, ‘I don’t know . I know … just the Fab Five, I know he was a pro’s pro in the NBA,’ all that.
"He said, ‘let me put you at ease. He’s a Jameer Nelson kind of person.’”
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