The Michigan Wolverines entered the 2022 NCAA Tournament as an 11-seed. Now, they’re heading to the Sweet 16 to face the Villanova Wildcats. Head coach Juwan Howard has his team playing some of its best basketball at the perfect time. The Wolverines faithful came out in full force, including members of the Fab Five.
Seeing Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, and Ray Jackson in attendance was a special moment for a group of men who have been through a lot together over the years. That support from his former teammates appears to be giving Howard some extra juice as he looks to continue his run in March Madness.
Members of Fab Five support Juwan Howard at the NCAA Tournament
The Fab Five is one of the most iconic college basketball teams of all time. Michigan head coach Juwan Howard played an integral role in the team’s success from 1991 to 1994, before heading to the NBA.
Over the years, the group has experienced some internal strife, most notably between Chris Webber and Jalen Rose. The two seemed to put their past issues to bed when Rose interviewed Webber before getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. While the current extent of the relationship is unknown, the Michigan brotherhood showed up for Howard at the NCAA Tournament.
Rose celebrated in the stands during the Wolverines’ opening-round victory over Colorado State. Webber and Ray Jackson sat together as Michigan upset Tennessee in the Round of 32.
Howard says their support certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.
“It was a beautiful moment to be here and to be with guys that I’ve been in the trenches with — Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson,” Howard said per The Athletic‘s Austin Meek. “Then to see my big brother, Mark Hughes, a guy that helped recruit me to come here. Mark told me back when I was in high school that my years at Michigan would be years that would mold me into a man, that if I continue to stay here and grow, I would have a lot of success and become a champion.”
“To see him out here supporting this team and taking time from their schedule, away from their families, it means a lot, he added. “I will never forget this day, and I appreciate all the support. They have, behind the scenes, been in my corner from Day 1.”
The Michigan head coach is rebounding from a rough end to the regular season
After winning the Big Ten regular-season title in 2020, Juwan Howard’s squad took a step back in 2021. Michigan went 19-14 in the regular season and 11-9 in the conference. Unfortunately, the Wolverines players had to finish the regular season without their head coach.
Howard served a five-game suspension following a postgame altercation with Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard and assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft.
The third-year head coach and retired NBA veteran’s future at Michigan appeared up in the air. However, the university kept Howard on board, and he’s thriving through adversity.
“It was tough, no doubt, for him to have to go through that,” said Mark Hughes. “We all have made mistakes. I love the fact that he apologized, went and got some therapy on it and boom, can get to the other side.”
The Fab Five star should understand his actions at that moment were wrong. He’s trying to make it up to his players, and the Wolverines are still dancing.
The Wolverines prepare for a challenging Sweet 16 matchup
Michigan is finding its rhythm at the perfect time. The Wolverines trailed at halftime during the NCAA Tournament first-round matchup against Colorado State. However, they flipped the script on the Rams in the second half, pulling out a 75-63 win.
The Wolverines were underdogs in their second-round tilt against the Tennessee Volunteers. Juwan Howard’s crew played a complete game and rose to the occasion down the stretch. The 76-68 victory sent Michigan to the Sweet 16.
The resurgent Wolverines now prepare for the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats. Jay Wright’s squad is an experienced bunch, led by Collin Gillespie, Justin Moore, and Jermaine Samuels. Howard and company will have their hands full, but they believe they can advance.
“There wasn’t really any doubt that this team is special,” said senior guard Eli Brooks. “That starts with our coach believing in us and just the group of guys that are in the locker room. We have a good group of guys that have the same drive, the same passion. And that’s a credit to Juwan and the coaching staff.”
All stats courtesy of CBB Reference