Michigan Basketball: The Rapid Decline of a Once Revered Program

The Wolverines blew a double-digit halftime lead for the second straight game as Michigan basketball dropped a road game to Mayland.
Minnesota v Michigan
Minnesota v Michigan / Aaron J. Thornton/GettyImages

It's May 12, 2019. Michigan basketball was recently defeated in the Sweet Sixteen by the eventual runner-up Texas Tech Red Raiders. This may seem like a super negative thing, however, Michigan is considered a consensus favorite to be in the hunt for the 2020 National Championship as long as sophomore guard Jordan Poole and freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis elect to return to school. Even if they don't, Michigan is still in excellent hands. What Michigan fans didn't realize, the very next morning, everything would change.

John Beilein, the Head Basketball Coach at the University of Michigan since 2007, had revived a program from the depths of the abyss. A program just a few years removed from self-imposed postseason bans and still reeling from the effects of the booster Ed Martin would become a National powerhouse in just five years under Coach B. On May 13, John Beilein announced he would no longer be the Head Basketball Coach at UM, as he was following his dream to coach in the NBA, taking the Cleveland Cavaliers job. Michigan basketball fans didn't know it then, but, that was the day that Michigan Basketball began its journey back to the abyss.

The coaching search didn't last long though, just twelve days later the University of Michigan would hire their new basketball coach, former Michigan forward and member of the Fab Five, Juwan Howard.

Howard was visibly emotional that day, you could truly see in that introductory press conference that he loves the University, in fact, that's what makes this whole decline so incredibly sad, the program was killed by a man that loves it almost as much as he loves his family.

You may be saying, get to the point, or even asking what is the point? The point is actually very simple, the decline since Juwan Howard took the job at Michigan, has been nothing short of "amazing" I don't use that word in a positive light either.

Michigan basketball has lost over 40 games decided by 6 points or less in Howard's tenure. They run the same isolation play at the end of games and nothing ever changes. The dictionary defines insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. Michigan in a close game immediately goes into a Point Guard Isolation that ends in either a lay-up that is slammed off the back glass or a pull-up contested three. It never changes, and neither does the result.

Outside of the on court issues, there have been numerous off court issues as well, fighting coaches, cussing players, among other things that you just don't see in other programs. One example, Dug McDaniel was suspended for six road games for violating team academic regulations, the university, Juwan, or the AD Warde Manuel weren't the ones to break the news, instead it was Dug McDaniel himself. On Instagram. The day before a game. This is unacceptable, it shows the lack of control that Howard has over the locker room. All I am saying is that's not something that would happen in a Jay Wright lead program, or a Mike Woodson lead program. It's just not normal.


Juwan Howard has to know where he is right now with this program. I believe that he's a smart guy, he knows that it has reached a point where it is nearly beyond repair. With that said, I think Juwan should step down. If the university has to fire him it destroys all the repairs made in the relationship with the Fab Five. I think it could potentially set the program back years, and I know that Howard doesn't want that. He loves Michigan. He knows what the right thing is, he should do the right thing.