Suits or sweatshirts? Michigan basketball coaching team Juwan Howard decides what to wear for the new season

ANN ARBOR – At Big Ten media day in Indianapolis last month, Michigan men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard recalled a conversation with one of his assistant coaches, Phil Martelli.

Howard had told Martelli about the retro Jordan brand sneakers that then North Carolina coach Roy Williams wore last season, as coaches across the country relaxed during games in the absence of fans. Howard felt that Williams “had the best set of shoes when it came to an older statesman” and told Martelli: “Coach, my goal is to let you throw Roy Williams from his throne and become the trainer with the best shoe set. “

Howard laughed, remembering Martelli’s response, “I don’t care about those retro. What are the retro? “

With fans returning to games, will Michigan’s coaches stay laid-back or return to the pre-pandemic suit and tie ensemble? We’ll find out on Friday night when Michigan plays Wayne State in an exhibition game.

Two seasons ago – Howard’s first in Michigan – when many coaches still dressed like the Wolf of Wall Street, Howard still looked chic on the sidelines. He donned a three-piece suit, complete with a pocket square, for the game at Michigan State.

According to Brian Dutcher, a Michigan assistant during Howard’s playing career, Howard ironed his uniform before games and ironed his jeans before school.

Martelli relied on an array of color combinations to make sure it matched. He has a tailor in Philadelphia, his old city, who made him custom suits. His jackets are embroidered (“Exclusively made for Phil Martelli”) and his shirts bear his initials on the cuffs.

It all stuck in the closet as coaches went with polo shirts or sweaters and sneakers last year. “I kinda like this polo shirt,” Howard said after the season opener last year. “I feel a lot more comfortable. I don’t have a big old suit jacket. I could stay that way for the rest of my coaching career – polo shirt with khakis, sneakers. It is a very comfortable outfit.

See also: Michigan campus big man Hunter Dickinson ready to take on college basketball villain

Howard was asked Thursday what he and his coaches would wear against Wayne State.

“We haven’t decided yet,” he said. “There are a lot of different ideas, but it’s good to know we have options. “

When asked if a return to costumes was a possibility, Howard said, “It’s all on the table, possibly including wearing a uniform. Who knows? I could go out in a # 25 homecoming uniform. “

So far in this preseason, a sample of other coaches’ attire suggests the trend is here to stay. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo wore a sweater during the Spartans exhibition game last week. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski wore a polo shirt.

There is no reason to think that will change once the regular season begins. These exhibitions are, after all, dress rehearsals.

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