Juwan Howard's Chance At Big Ten Coach Of The Year
The success of a basketball program is not dependent on how many awards players and coaches bring home at the end of the year but Michigan might have a couple of guys in the discussion. You could make an argument that Juwan Howard deserves to be named Coach of the Year, but he's probably trailing a few guys.
Howard has done some things in year one that a lot of people thought would take him some time. He's beaten Tom Izzo, Fran McCaffrey and Matt Painter in West Lafayette, put things back on the rails amid a losing streak and outcoached some really established head coaches. He's also endeared himself to the media and the fanbase and taken a very successful program to new heights on the recruiting trail. So with all of that, is he worthy of coach of the year honors?
Most would say no and I'd have to agree. Even though Howard has surpassed my expectations in pretty much every way, I just don't think he's on the level of some other coaches this year. I would personally put him fourth behind Steve Pikiell of Rutgers, Mark Turgeon of Maryland and Penn State's Pat Chambers.
Pikiell has brought Rutgers basketball out of the dungeon. The Scarlet Knights play a respectable brand of basketball and are a very impressive 17-1 at home. Of course, that one loss came at the hands of Michigan just a few days ago. Last year, Rutgers went 10-7 at home and finished three games under .500 at 14-17. Two years ago, Rutgers went just 3-15 in the Big Ten and looked almost as bad on the hardwood as they did on the gridiron. Now, Pikiell is in the discussion for coach of the year and I think deservedly so.
Turgeon is widely considered one of the better coaches in the Big Ten and usually has one of the more talented rosters in the conference and those developments have come together for the Terps this year. Maryland is all by itself atop the Big Ten standings at 12-3 in the conference and is a very respectable 22-4 overall. The Terps are currently No. 7 in the AP Poll but may have a chance to slide into the top five after losses by No. 1 Baylor and No. 2 Gonzaga. Wherever they're ranked, the Terps are the class of the best conference in college basketball, which is quite the feather in Turgeon's cap.
Finally, if I had a vote, it would be for Chambers. Penn State has been pesky at best over the last handful of years and the Nittany Lions have not made the NCAA tournament since Chambers took over in 2011. That's going to change this year. Penn State is second in the Big Ten at 10-6 in conference and 20-7 overall. They're currently ranked No. 9, which is the highest mark in program history, and have wins over Maryland at home and both Michigan and Michigan State on the road. They did just drop a very winnable game against Indiana today, but I still think their season-long performance is the most surprising and most impressive.
Who would get your vote for coach of the year? How would you campaign for Howard? Comment below!!!