In his first press conference since taking over as Michigan’s coach, Juwan Howard on Thursday was overcome with emotion at the dais. Tears ran down his face, sniffles bubbled up into small whimpers. He turned his back on the crowd gathered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to compose himself before delivering his opening remarks.
“Tears of joy,” he said as he took a swig from a water bottle at the podium, a big grin enveloping his face. “I said I wasn’t gonna cry. I guess that happens when you’re excited about something so special, to you, that means so much.”
Howard recalled the last time he held a press conference at the Crisler Center during his remarks, which was in 1994 when it was then known as Crisler Arena. In his remarks then, he announced his intentions to declare for the NBA Draft. He remembers he felt as if he let the program down, leaving without delivering a championship.
“Now let’s fast forward 25 years later,” Howard said. “I’m back. I’m back to help continue this Michigan tradition. I’m back to help continue this beautiful culture that has been instilled here before me and, whenever the day comes, after me.”
Howard succeeds John Beilein, who left for the Cleveland Cavaliers, at Michigan. And while Howard does not have any experience as a head coach, he’s a Michigan alum, a former Fab Five member, and a long-time Miami Heat assistant on Erik Spoelstra’s staff who was seen by many as a rising star in the profession. For Howard, he says the lack of experience — and doubters of his qualifications — is a motivating factor for him to succeed.
“When I get into something, I’m all in,” Howard said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people out there doubting that I’m a first time head coach. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere, don’t you?”