Howard, UM basketball show support for football, Wolverines athletics

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

As Michigan fans stormed the field after last Saturday’s win over Ohio State, cameras captured men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard hugging football coach Jim Harbaugh among the sea of maize and blue.

The embrace quickly went viral on social media and was the latest example of the support Howard has for the other athletics programs at his alma mater.

According to Howard, though, he didn’t intentionally seek out Harbaugh. Rather, as he was making his way toward the tunnel to exit Michigan Stadium, he spotted Harbaugh and made a split-second decision to go congratulate him.

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is congratulated by men's basketball coach Juwan Howard after the Wolverines upset the Buckeyes last Saturday.

“I looked over to my right and I'm like, 'Oh, there's coach.' I was fanning. I was like, 'Wow, let's go over there,’” Howard said this week. “I was talking to myself, ‘Should you go?’ I was like whatever. I got hype. I got up in the moment. Just give him the support and let him know how we appreciate what him and his staff have done. It was great to experience it and be there in person. I'll never forget that moment.”

The win snapped an eight-game losing streak in the rivalry series and marked the Wolverines’ first win against the Buckeyes since Nov. 26, 2011. It was also Harbaugh’s first victory in six games as a coach against Ohio State and an emotional win that stamped Michigan’s ticket to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game.

On-field footage picked up the brief exchange between the two coaches, with Howard telling Harbaugh: “I’m so happy for you. Yes sir. Hey, they said you can’t beat Ohio State. Now what?”

“I'm a huge fan of Michigan football. I hear all the chatter about Coach Harbaugh and my heart pours for him and his family,” Howard said when asked about the criticism Harbaugh faced before beating Ohio State.

“I think sometimes, like in sports, you realize that coaches have families and it affects them as well. Coaches have supporters and it affected me. I remember hearing all that chatter.”

In addition to Howard, sophomore center Hunter Dickinson and sophomore forward Terrance Williams II were among the players in the stands at the Big House.

“I feel like being a basketball player, supporting the football team is big,” said Dickinson, who described the game atmosphere as “something like out of a movie.”

“Obviously you see Coach Howard's support for Coach Harbaugh and the football team. We try to do the same as a basketball program and give them as much support as possible because they're our classmates and Michigan family.”

During his tenure, Howard has been visible at numerous sporting events on campus, from softball to women’s lacrosse games. He’s stopped by at a women’s golf event. He often celebrates other programs’ accomplishments on Twitter.

While Howard doesn’t tell his players to cheer on other teams and get out to games when they can, he tends to lead by example.

“I know me and Hunter have went to a hockey game. We've been to a (women’s) basketball game, a field hockey game,” Williams said. “We try to go to see other sports teams and support them because it's a Michigan family. We've got to stay close and stay tight. I think showing our support and love throughout every single athletic community here is important for us.”

Facing the frenemy

Dickinson and Williams will be playing for more than a win when they get their first true road game experience Wednesday night at North Carolina. They’ll also be playing for bragging rights against former AAU teammate Armando Bacot.

The three were all members of Team Takeover, a Washington, D.C.-based program, before heading their separate ways in college, and Dickinson’s time playing with Bacot dates all the way back to middle school.

“He was a really good player for us. We won a lot of games together,” Dickinson said. “He's somebody who I really enjoy on and off the court. He's a really funny guy. Being able to play against him will be really fun. I'm excited for that matchup.”

Dickinson and Williams both said they keep in contact with Bacot. Dickinson said he doesn’t text too many people outside of his team during the season, but he’ll communicate with Bacot occasionally on social media. Williams said he reaches out to Bacot every once in a while to see how things are going.

"Armando, that's my guy,” Williams said. “We're still close. … It's going to be cool playing him because I usually always play with him. It's going to be cool going against him and seeing how him and Hunter battle it out because I know they're probably going to guard each other. It's going to be a good feeling seeing all three of us on the court in a high-major Division I game."

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins