The University of Michigan and coach Juwan Howard fell one game shy of reaching the NCAA Final Four.
The Wolverines, who were the No. 1 seed, lost to No. 11 UCLA in the regional finals Tuesday night in Indianapolis. Howard, a former Heat player and assistant, was coaching in his first NCAA Tournament.
“It’s very disappointing for our guys, working extremely hard this year, coming down to, you know, one possession," Howard said. "And that’s how it goes sometimes. In the game of basketball, there’s one or two possessions that can really either help you or hurt you, and for us, we came up short."
Where Howard didn't come up short was winning over the Wolverines fan base. Several fans applauded Howard for helping the program return to national prominence. Michigan made it further than any Big Ten team in the tournament.
Howard spent the later stages of his NBA playing career with the Heat, winning a pair of championships during the Big Three era. After retiring in 2013, he joined the Heat coaching staff. He couldn't pass up the opportunity to return to lead his alma mater, where he was part of the famed Fab Five during the early 1990s.
After Tuesday's loss, he vowed the Wolverines would remain competitive.
“But I’m so proud of this group and how they competed all season long during some very difficult times," Howard said. "It’s been a very challenging year but at the end of the day, we all need to walk out of this building with our head up with nothing but humility, gratitude and dignity.”
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