Juwan Howard Gets Off Lightly

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(Photo credit: John Fisher/Getty Images)

Michigan basketball head coach Juwan Howard should be thankful that he received a five-game suspension for instigating a brawl with Wisconsin basketball head coach Greg Gard and Wisconsin assistant head coach Joe Krabbenhoft.

Everyone figured he would be suspended for the regular season and the postseason if Michigan made the tournament. He gets a chance to coach in the postseason if the Wolverines get there, and that’s wrong.

As a head coach of a major university in a major conference, he should have taken the whole year off to understand why he was wrong and why he can’t keep doing this. This wasn’t an isolated incident. He had an incident with then-Maryland basketball head coach Mark Turgeon last year similar to what happened with him and Gard. His players got into incidents with other players such as Michigan’s Moussa Diabate jawing at Rutgers players at the handshake line.

Howard is supposed to be a leader of men and an educator to these kids. He is not a player anymore where he can go start fights with players or coaches to show he’s tough. He needs to be the bigger man in situations like this by having self-control. He’s a grown adult for crying out loud.

One can make a case this was an assault. If I laid my hands on another human being the way Howard did, I would be spending time in jail. This should have been the case with the Michigan head coach.

Gard offended Howard by calling a 30-second timeout in a game that was out of reach. This was in response to Howard having his guys pressing with Wisconsin up by 15 points and 15 seconds left of Wisconsin’s 77-33 victory over Michigan. As stupid as it sounds on Gard’s part, Howard should have let it go by remembering it in the next meeting. Then, he can do whatever he wants such as running up the score. That was the best tact to take right there. If he did that, nothing happens.

Howard exacerbated the situation by telling Gard he will remember that when he ignored Gard’s handshake. Then Gard tried to explain to him by touching him, and Howard went nuts. That’s when everything went off the rails right there. For whatever reason, Howard decided to hit Krabbenhoft, and then Diabate and Michigan’s Terrence Williams and Wisconsin’s Jahcobi Neath threw punches in the incident.

It could have been much worse. It could have been Malice at the Palace as Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo alluded Monday afternoon in his press conference. This explains why Howard’s actions deserved to be scrutinized, and why he should be held accountable.

Go ahead and blame Gard, but Howard has a reputation of being a hothead. It was risky and interesting Michigan hired him of all people to replace John Beilein in the first place. Once a hothead, always a hothead. It was laughable he was going to change for who he is.

It’s clear Howard hasn’t grown up. If he was not a Michigan man, would he even be hired?

Michigan will not fire him because he is a Michigan man and he recently landed a top-rated recruiting class.

But what’s the point of a top-rated recruiting class if Howard can’t lead by acting like an adult? Coaches lead by example. They set the tone for a team in how the players conduct themselves. How are players going to learn and be better if Howard acts like an idiot? For Diabate and Williams to get involved in a scrum they had no business being involved, that’s a bad reflection on Howard. Since Howard got into it, it’s okay for his players to get into it from their perspective. That’s a terrible logic.

Howard not only made himself look bad, but he made his players look bad by them following his lead.

He did not apologize for his actions after the game. He hasn’t apologized to Gard after the game and then in his statement after he got suspended.

This is why he should have gotten a longer suspension than this. Just being suspended for the rest of the regular season is not enough. If Michigan plays in the NCAA Tournament, Howard is back coaching and then maybe players use the tournament to rally around him. What exactly will he learn from that?

Howard is lucky that he played for Michigan and be a star for them or else he would be fired. For Michigan fans to stand up for their guy, it is comically amusing.

He probably got a light suspension because of his pedigree as a Michigan player.

If he was anybody else, not only would he be fired, but he would be serving time in jail.

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