Western Michigan basketball experienced a transformation last year when they went from a rebuilding year sans David Kool to MAC West champions with a mostly senior-less class. Their 21-13 record and Collegeinsider.com Tournament second-round appearance really came out of nowhere, but it was augmented with two promising freshmen: Matt Stainbrook and Juwan Howard Jr..
Well, that was a fun one year for the latter.
Howard left the WMU program last month. This we knew. We are now aware of his next destination, the MAC's grown-up brother, the Horizon League. He'll play for Detroit under the tutelage of former Ball State legend Ray McCallum. As Graham Couch notes, McCallum seems to be horning in on Western's territory, who also accepted LaMarcus Lowe after the 08-09 year.
Howard had an 100.8 offensive Pomeroy rating, 15th in the MAC among players used in 20 percent of the possessions. The raw numbers: 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 23 minutes per game, a 30.7% 3-point shot and a 78.8% free throw aim. He once won a MAC West Player of the Week honor and was named to the All-Freshman Team at the end of the year.
It's a sizable loss for the Broncos, but they can recover. They return all five starters, namely Demetrius Ward and Flenard Whitfield, losing now Howard and senior Alex Wolf, who was also a reserve. So there's room for players to be that bench catalyst. Steve Hawkins will find willing kids.
But it has to be painful for the Broncos fans. As you can tell, I'm writing this and not our WMU guys, who remain a little cheesed at the Fab Five namesake.
Oh, look, they play Detroit on December 8. The game's in Detroit, so Howard will survive the verbal slings and arrows of the Kalamazooans. For a little while.