Juwan Howard at Michigan isn't likely to end well
Michigan has hired Juwan Howard as its basketball coach, and such a move isn’t likely to end well. The only real difference is that schools like Michigan hardly ever take such a flier.
Howard is one of the most respected men in basketball. He was a star on Michigan’s Fab Five teams of 1992 and 1993, both of which made the NCAA championship game. Then Howard played 19 seasons in the NBA and spent six seasons as a Miami Heat assistant coach.
Howard recently interviewed for the head coaching jobs with the Lakers, Timberwolves and Cavaliers.
But Howard has not spent one day in college basketball since he was finished playing for the Wolverines a quarter century ago.
Going from the NBA to college coaching, with no campus experience, is much more difficult than the reverse.
And there is a long line of evidence to support that.
* Fred Hoiberg was hired by his alma mater, Iowa State, in 2010 after spending time with the Timberwolves as a player, assistant coach and executive. The Cyclones went 115-56 in five years, making four NCAA Tournaments and winning four NCAA games. Hoiberg resigned to become head coach of the Chicago Bulls and was hired this spring to coach Nebraska.
* Dan Majerle, a long-time Phoenix Suns player and assistant coach, was hired by Grand Canyon University in 2013. Majerle’s teams have gone 123-72 in six years, though there has been no NCAA Tournament appearances.
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* Patrick Ewing, hired at his alma mater, Georgetown, in 2017, is 34-29 after two seasons, with no NCAA Tournament appearance.
* Penny Hardaway was hired as University of Memphis coach in 2018. His first team went 22-14 and reached the NIT. Hardaway currently has a highly-rated recruiting class.
* Chris Mullin, hired at his alma mater, St. John’s, in 2015, went 59-73 in four years. St. John’s made the NCAA Tournament this season but lost a First Four game, then Mullin resigned.
* Mark Price, hired at Charlotte University in 2015, having spent just one year on campus since his playing days, Georgia Tech 15 years earlier. Price went 30-42 in two-plus years at Charlotte and was fired.
* Avery Johnson, hired at Alabama in 2015, went 75-62 with one NCAA Tournament appearance. He resigned under pressure this spring.
* Terry Porter, hired at the University of Portland in 2016 after a long playing and NBA coaching career, has gone 28-69 in three seasons.
* Mike Dunleavy Sr., after more than three decades in the NBA as a player and coach, took the Tulane job in 2016 and went 24-69 before he was fired this spring.
* Clyde Drexler retired from the Houston Rockets in 1998 to become head coach at his alma mater, the University of Houston, and went 19-39 in two seasons before resigning.
* Sidney Moncrief was hired by his hometown Arkansas-Little Rock in 1999 but resigned after one season and a 4-24 record.
* Isiah Thomas was hired by Florida International in 2009. He coached three seasons, during which he announced he would be a consultant for the New York Knicks but was rebuffed by public outcry. FIU went 26-65 in three seasons, and Thomas was fired.
So Hoiberg and Majerle have done well, and it’s looking good for Hardaway. But otherwise, becoming a college head coach with no college coaching experience has not gone well, no matter the star power of the personality involved.