Juwan Howard fires a shot across the Big Ten basketball landscape

Embed from Getty Images Michigan Wolverines basketball coach Juwan Howard did not take long to bring in his first big recruit to the Wolverines hard court program. 2020 five-star PF Isaiah Todd has committed to Michigan. Todd is  6-foot-10 and 195 pounds. He is out of Raleigh, North Carolina and is rated as the top player in the state and the 12th best player in the nation.

This commitment is huge for the Wolverines for a variety of reasons. First it is Howard’s first five-star as head coach of the Michigan basketball program. Not only that but Isaiah Todd is actually Michigan’s highest rated commitment in the 247Sports era.

Juwan Howard came from the NBA and the Miami Heat to take over for John Beilein. A tall task to be sure. Howard’d NBA background was thought to be a real bonus for the Wolverines in terms of recruiting. This is a clear case of that happening.

The announcement that Todd committed sent excitement through the Michigan campus. Students, fans and media are wondering what is next. Juwan Howard has been working on the recruiting trail for a while now.

What swung Todd’s choice from North Carolina to Michigan? “He played my position and can teach me so much about the game. He will be a great mentor for me.” Todd told the North Carolina media.

The scouting report on Isaiah Todd is, “A long and athletic forward who loves to play facing the basket. Can score off post moves but has a finesse game. Building strength and mass is a key to development. Can score at all three levels. Handles ball well but decision making is questionable at times. Is a shot blocker but needs to discipline his defense as well as his offense. Known as an upside player, but has been behind the curve on expected development.”

This should serve as a notice to the rest of the Big Ten, Juwan Howard is not afraid to use his NBA background to lure talent to Ann Arbor. Something other Big Ten schools simply can not do.

With NBA credentials in hand, Michigan Wolverine’s Juwan Howard can make a big impact with recruits

Embed from Getty Images It has been three weeks since former Fab Five member took over as the head basketball coach at the University of Michigan.  Thursday, Juwan Howard made his first stop on the recruiting trail. the top 100 players gathered at the National Basketball Players Association Camp.

It was not an has not been lost on the collection of the 100 best players. When the former Michigan star turned NBA star, turned NBA assistant coach, turned Michigan Wolverines head coach. Players stopped, looked whispered and exchanged glances when Howard walked through the door.

Juwan Howard has won at every level he has played at. The current high school players know of Howards accolades. Juwan Howard was a McDonalds All-American in high school, two-time All-American at Michigan, two time NBA champion. That speaks louder to players than Howard’s voice ever could.

It is also not lost on potential recruits that Juwan played with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. He lived with Michael Jordan for a summer. Oh and when Juwan Howard announced he was going to attend Michigan and play hoops for the school, he recruited the rest of the players that would make up the Fab Five.

It is his relationships with NBA players that gives Howard a leg up. Recently Lebron James (a HUGE Ohio State fan) son said he is seriously considering going to Michigan with his dad’s approval. Dwayne Wade’s son has said the same thing.

While it is still early in the recruiting process, Juwan Howard has already talked to and gotten verbal commitments from a few big time recruits. As soon as he was announced to be the Wolverines basketball coach, Juwan Howard had already won the recruiting battle in the Big Ten. The other schools simply can not match what Howard brings to players and recruits.

Michigan is even passing Michigan State who had a longtime leg up in recruiting. For the other schools the struggle has gotten more daunting. For Juwan Howard, he is just getting started.

Michigan Wolverines basketball has an offensive problem

Embed from Getty Images Defense is not an issue for the 7th ranked Michigan basketball team. For two seasons Michigan’s defense has been at or near the top in the country. That is the good news. The bad news is the Wolverines offense lacks consistency.

All teams go through ups and downs of a season. The phrase used nowadays is “trust the process.” Okay. That is well and all if you have the players who can move the team forward. Sunday afternoon Michigan’s flaws were seen firsthand.

The Michigan State Spartans did not do anything different on defense. They did dare the Wolverines to hit outside shots as well as three point shots. Michigan State even gave Michigan players a good look at the hoop. One problem. Michigan could not take advantage.

Michigan has lived off of the defense. The offense has been trending down for most of the season. John Beilein has had no answers for his team. The players themselves have had no answers. It has been that way in all of the Wolverines losses this season.

One of the issues is that Michigan is better in the offensive zone when players are running and creating. Not having to stop set up and wait for someone to get open. Shooting 34.4% from three- point range as well as 51.5% from two-point range is down from one season ago.

This is not where Michigan wants to be with three regular season games left and the Big Ten Tournament coming. People will argue defense wins championships.  That is certainly a valid point. Defense is critical in every sport.

However, teams need to make shots. All the defense and no offense leads to games like Michigan State. Michigan will have a shot at redemption March 9 when they travel to East Lansing to face the Spartans. It will not be easy. There will be a lot on the line for both schools.

This will be a show me game for the Wolverines. Michigan coach John Beilein says “we have habits we need to break.” He is absolutely correct. If Michigan can not grow and learn from Sunday’s home loss to their in-state rival their season will be met with disappointment.

Former Michigan Wolverines head coach Steve Fisher’s 1989 title team returning

Embed from Getty Images The calm before the storm. Michigan State vs Michigan a basketball game that has national implications for both schools is going to have special guests.

Steve Fisher has not coached at Michigan in over 20 years. When coached some group called The Fab Five. Yet, it was before that, that Fisher took over for Bill Frieder.

In 1989 on the verge of an NCAA Basketball Tournament, Frieder mad the fatal flaw of announcing his intentions of taking the Arizona State head coaching job. Former Wolverines football coach Bo Schembechler who was serving as Athletic director fired Frieder and said “only a Michigan man will coach Michigan.”

Enter Steve Fisher an assistant under Frieder who took over coaching duties. Michigan entered the Tournament an won the whole thing. 1989 National Champions. Now tomorrow at the big game matchup between the Spartans and Wolverines, Fisher will lead the unlikely group of Champions into Crisler Arena.

It will be a magical moment. To see the likes of Glen Rice, Loy Vaught, Terry Mills, Sean Higgins and Tournament M.V.P. Rumeal Robinson. A group that no one thought much of. Rallied together and got hot at the right time.

The team is still loved in and around Ann Arbor. Now on the cusp of another big game. It is the perfect time to bring out the ’89 Champs. To fire the crowd up. Not that, that will be an issue.