A tough season for Juwan Howard got tougher on Sunday. Following Sunday’s 77-63 loss to Wisconsin, Howard and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard turned a post-game handshake line into a mosh pit of bruised egos. What began with Howard taking offense to Wisconsin calling a timeout up 15 in the final 15 seconds blew up into a raging controversy.
After Gard said he called the timeout to break Michigan’s press, Howard grew incensed.
“Apparently, he didn’t like that I called a timeout to reset the 10-second call,” Gard told CBS Sports. “We only had 4 seconds to get the ball past half court. I didn’t want to put my bench guys in that position of scrambling, so I took the timeout. He did not like that when he came through the handshake line.”
“I didn’t like the timeout they called, I’ll be totally honest,” Howard explained. “I thought it was not necessary at that moment, especially with it being a large lead. … I thought that wasn’t fair to our guys.”
What incited the altercation was small beans. Instead of saving their petty grievances for the postgame press conference, Howard approached Gard muttering, “I’ll remember that shit.” Gard, then stepped to his side in front of Howard, as he was walking by and grabbed his elbow.
Once Gard and Howard were nose to nose, shirts were yanked, and tempers flared. In the midst of the yelling and shoving, Howard reached over the top and slapped Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft across the head. Once Howard’s palm connected, several Michigan players threw punches as well.
There’s no need to defend Howard. Inadvertently inciting his team was an especially bad look. However, it takes two to tango. Gard showed immaturity by engaging during his fruitless shouting match. He was the winning coach. He should have gone home and enjoyed the spoils of victory while Howard was seething. Instead, he demonstrated his lack of self-control.
There’s built-up frustration on the Wolverines sideline, and Howard’s third year at the helm has been a rocky one. The Wolverines are unranked and most likely NIT-bound, a significant fall from last…