Michigan head basketball coach Juwan Howard spoke with the media after his Wolverines handed Iowa State a seven-point loss in the first round of the Battle for Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
General comments on the win...
I have to take a little deep breath. Obviously it was a very emotional game for all of us. It was a highly competitive game. Give Iowa State credit. They were competing from start to finish. It wasn’t an easy matchup for us.
We knew game planning coming in that they had a lot of length, they were a tough team that has been to the NCAA tournament many times so they have the experience.
They're led by Tyrese Haliburton, who had a phenomenal game — a big lift from him. Granted he had to work for every bucket because our guys played extremely hard defending him, but for a guy to play 40 minutes shows a lot of fight and competitiveness within himself.
I’m proud of our team and how we stuck together, especially during the stretch at the beginning of the game when they jumped out early on us. Our team continued to keep the mental toughness and not get down on one another. We came back in the game with what our game plan was. I appreciate the fact that they trusted the game plan.
On the 22 turnovers...
Give the players credit. This is a new coach with a new system so it’s still early in the season where you’re going to have those mistakes that happened. They’re trying to make the right play. They’re trying to make the right play to put us in the best position to win.
Yeah, there are times where we sort of forced it but I talked about it with the team at halftime; we can’t make those home run plays. Sometimes those home run plays get you into trouble. Keep it simple, hit some singles, take your time and as the game goes on, as we continue to fight and compete and play hard, those opportunities where we can make those passes where the defense is not set or in the passing lane using their wingspan, you’ll be able to make that play. Make the easy ones.
On Tyrese Haliburton...
I don’t use this word loosely, but in my opinion he’s a pro. I don’t know when he’s going to decide to play at the next level but he has a great chance. He’s a great passer and he sees plays before they happen. Today, he was aggressive offensively and he showed folks that he can shoot the ball from the outside. He’s played on the USA team and won a gold medal. That speaks for itself. And he plays for a great coach.
On ten guys playing and scoring…
That’s based on the next man up. That’s how it goes. Colin [Castleton] came in and gave us a big lift but at times he struggled in the beginning of the first half so I went to Austin [Davis]. He stepped right in, goes six minutes and gave us his best six minutes. That’s a guy who doesn’t take time to get ready because he’s always ready. He prepares like he’s a starter. I always say that to my players. You have to stay locked into the game because you never know when your name will be called. When it is, be ready to deliver.
Second half, I went back to Colin because Jon [Teske] got a foul, his third foul, early. I didn’t go away from Colin, I trusted him, and he came right in and he produced.
You look at the box score and you see the shot attempts are pretty much even. Our guys do an excellent job sharing the basketball. I always talk about sharing the game.
On Franz Wagner's first action…
I thought he did great. We’re very pleased as a staff and as a team for someone who only had a practice and a half.
I really applaud Jon Sanderson, Alex Wong and our medical staff for getting Franz ready and keeping his conditioning up. I applaud Franz for staying professional as well as being responsible for managing himself on keeping himself ready.
I had no idea that he was going to play today. It really was a game time decision. So for a guy to come in and play 22 minutes, and play with that level of like, he hasn’t missed a beat, he looked very comfortable and like he belonged out there. Granted he’s going to be fatigued, it’s his first game. I’ve been there before. I didn’t expect him to have a stellar game by the numbers, but overall he played great for us.
What went into the decision to start Franz?
Looking at their length, as well as their experience, because they have guys who are juniors or seniors, and redshirt juniors too. I wanted to have some length there for their shooting as well as another guy who I felt I can trust. Franz is battle tested because he’s played on a high level in Europe. Yeah, this is his first time playing NCAA basketball, but he belongs. He has the confidence and that edginess that I love.
On what Wagner brings...
He brings a big, athletic wing that’s a two-way player. We saw it today where he can shoot the ball from the outside and he has a high IQ.
On wiping up the floor during a stoppage…
We saw a couple of guys kept slipping in that spot and, no offense to the people that are sweeping the floor, but I just wanted to make sure that we got that wet spot clean and our players, both teams, can go out there and compete without getting hurt. You could tell, I don’t mind getting my knees dirty.
On 15 ex-NBA guys now being college coaches...
I love seeing a guy like Patrick Ewing, who I grew up watching and he was a hero of mine — coach in the NBA, Hall of Famer — go back and coach at Georgetown, his alma mater. It shows you that he loves coaching, that he’s a teacher and that he’s a giver. He’s an egoless type of guy and doesn’t think any job is beneath him.
I’m also excited to see a guy like Penny Hardaway. In my opinion, he could’ve easily been a Hall of Famer. Injuries derailed his career but he had so much success coaching AAU basketball and high school basketball and now back at Memphis. Success follows Penny; he’s a great coach.
You see a guy like [Jerry] Stackhouse who played at Carolina and played at a high level in the NBA, played for a championship; he’s a winner. What’s so special about him is he goes to the G-League and wins a title. That guy’s a basketball mind; a basketball genius.
To get back to your question, I don’t know if it’s a growing trend or if other ex-NBA guys will come and coach college, but I will say this, it’s a beautiful thing to come back and coach young guys who are aspiring to play the game of basketball at a high level. They are striving for greatness and enjoy being taught, not only just as a basketball player, but as a student and building high character. It’s the beauty of this game. We have a high institution and we have high character guys who are great students and come from great families.
What did you think of the game? What impressed you and what would you like to see change? Comment below!!!