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Michigan’s Hiring Of Juwan Howard Was Bold. Will It Work?

There’s no way to tell for a couple of years

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Miami Heat v Orlando Magic
ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 26: Josh Richardson #0 and assistant coach Juwan Howard of the Miami Heat on the bench on opening night against the Orlando Magic on October 26, 2016 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Photo by Manuela Davies/Getty Images

Michigan has hired Juwan Howard to replace John Beilein, now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and reaction has been mixed.

Howard of course was part of the Fab Five, Michigan’s famous freshman, all of whom ended up starting and losing to Duke twice that year (and once the following fall).

They went on to lose to UNC in the 1993 title game as sophomores as Chris Webber called his famous sixth timeout.

Howard did have a solid pro career and has been an NBA assistant for the last six years where presumably he learned from guys like LeBron James, Dwyane James and Shane Battier, not to mention Pat Riley who has a keen basketball mind.

What he doesn’t have is a full understanding of the collegiate grind. Money and the fast track to the NBA have changed things considerably and the traditional recruiting base for the Big Ten has seen a significant population decline. It may be worst for Michigan - the state and school - as Detroit suffered mightily before starting to rebound and Flint, where a lot of talent has come from over the last several decades, has been dealing with its well-documented drinking water crisis.

It’s not like Michigan can’t still recruit; it just has to work harder at it than it used to. Beilein struggled to an extent but partly because he wasn't willing to cut corners.

Recruiting aside, we have no idea how Howard will adjust to being a head coach in college but he’s part of a recent trend: Penny Hardaway at Memphis and Jerry Stackhouse are also former NBA stars who have moved to college jobs. Hardaway has a year under his belt and has been a lights out recruiter this year; Stackhouse is still more of an unknown, having been hired just this spring.

All of them bring potential and risk. We’ll have to see how Howard does. Here are some opinions as he gets started.

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