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November 05, 2019 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily

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was the perfect opportunity for the young

coach — an ability to get his feet wet with the

position without being completely thrown to

the wolves.

While he wasn’t reinventing the wheel

or tasked with redesigning Heat concepts,

Howard was able to learn some of the

minutiae of the position — how to talk in

timeouts, who to call on when games are

getting close, how to scream on the sidelines.

“He defined guys’ roles early, and I think

that was good for a coach to be able to do

that,” said Richardson, one of the key players

on that Summer League

team. “He would give good

speeches, get his message

across, and he’s a good

speaker in front of guys,

and I know that’s probably

tough in your first coaching

job having to give an

opening speech at training

camp, or having to be the

guy talking to the team

every timeout and stuff

like that, but I think he did

a great job navigating that

for the first time.”

The Heat would place fourth that year,

going 3-2 through the tournament.

But Howard left with something far more

valuable than the trophy — confidence in

his ability to become the head coach of a

basketball team someday.

“It taught me a lot in that I enjoyed the

experience, I learned from it,” Howard said.

“I left there that summer thinking, ‘You

know, I can be a head coach in this league.’ It

gave me a vote of confidence.”

Before that, Howard had had no problem

being vocal. No experience talking to a team

with the title of “head coach,” sure, but he’s

always been a leader in the locker room.

And no one recognized that more than

Howard’s old coach on the Portland Trail

Blazers, Nate McMillan.

Howard often credits McMillan with

being the first person he spoke to about his

desire to coach, but McMillan saw it coming

long before those words ever left Howard’s

lips. Once Howard joined the Trail Blazers,

McMillan immediately saw an opportunity

to use Howard not only as a liaison between

the players and the coaches but as an

excellent resource with a high basketball IQ.

“When I had the opportunity to work

with him in Portland, I really wanted to pick

his brain,” McMillan said. “I wanted him

to be a part of that organization because I

knew he could assist me with the players in

getting my message, whatever my message

was, across to them both as a player and as

a coach.”

Any first glance at Howard’s credentials

may not tell the whole story. Some may

be inclined to write off his first year at the

helm as an adjustment period — some time

off from Michigan’s recent success due to

17’s lack of experience. Perhaps a faulty

assumption. Howard’s been doing this for a

long time.



basketball team dismantled Saginaw Valley

State in an exhibition win, the ex-big man sat

down at the podium, nearly ready to address

the field after his first game coaching in

Crisler Center.

He asked for a few minutes to prepare

before glancing down at a freshly printed

stat sheet. He poured over the numbers,


performance then addressed the media.

A small gesture, but a testament to the

man’s process. Making the transition from

the NBA back to college is no small task, and

Howard is going to need to pick up every

detail along the way.

Many will speculate about how Howard

is adapting to the more frequent use of the

zone on defense or the pace of play in the

weeks and possibly even years to come.

But Howard will have to make leadership

adjustments, too.

College students are at different points in

their lives than professional athletes. While

the days of Juwan swatting balls in practice

may be over as he takes on a different role

with his players, Howard promises to

continue his signature brand of honesty, fun

and professionalism to the job at hand.


said. “I’m also a guy that’s gonna hold you

accountable when you’re not doing your job.

I’m not a big yeller or screamer, but I know

how to make sure my voice resonates and

carries so when I speak, the group listens.

“I want my players to know this: we’re

gonna compete hard. There will be some

moments when we hit some rough patches in

the season, but at the end of the day, I want

us to be able to say, once we look back at the

end of the season, ‘We did have fun.’”

More than that, his approach for on-the-

court development may differ as well.

Working with big men in the NBA, the

focus was not so much about technique at

the big man position but rather about the

mental game — how to be patient and goade

the defense into making mistakes. How to be

a professional.

“Being patient. I feel like that was the No.

1 thing he helped me with,” Adebayo said.

“Just taking my time in the post. It wasn’t

really on moves, but if you’re patient and let

the defense make mistakes, and I started

seeing that as the years went on and last year

the last 30 games I started catching onto it

and started realizing it.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019 // TIPOFF 2019

Alec Cohen / Daily Design by Jack Silberman

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