Tuesday marks the first day of the season that the Wisconsin Badgers will take on the Michigan Wolverines, as well as the first battle between the two teams at the Kohl Center since the infamous Juwan Howard-Greg Gard postgame skirmish nearly a year ago.
Wisconsin has yet to play Michigan this season, which is rare, since the two teams still have another matchup after Tuesday’s game, hence why there could be potential tension heading into the game.
However, that isn’t the case for head coach Greg Gard, who firmly stated that last year’s events are out of Wisconsin’s minds, while praising his fellow head coach.
“That’s all behind us. You know, hey, I get it. We’re all competitors in this, you’re not in this if you’re not, and if you don’t have some competitive juices in you, [then] you’re probably not going to last very long in this. He’s obviously a tremendous competitor. Was as a player, and obviously is as a coach,” Gard said.
Gard doubled down, sharing an insightful story of his first interactions with Howard, which showcased what kind of person the Michigan head coach was.
“In spite of that, it was unfortunate for everybody that that occurred last year and that’s behind us. I have no problem with Juwan. I respect him and what I go back to, as I told him at media day and shared this with others: you know, I had never met him until the week of [coach] Howard Moore’s accident. And the second time I flew over to Ann Arbor, I was there on the day of the accident or the next day when it happened on a Friday night, I was there on Saturday. And then about Wednesday and Thursday, [I] flew back over again. And it was ironically on the day that Juwan had his press conference being introduced as Michigan’s new head coach. And, as I walked into the hospital room, in the intensive care area where Howard and [his 13-year-old son Jerell] were, and I actually had Coach Ryan flew with me that day, the second time I went over and, and a couple other people. Juwan was at Howard’s bedside. and that was my first introduction meeting with Juwan,” Gard shared.
Gard affirmed his stance, adding that he isn’t listening to the outside noise heading into the game.
“We’ve talked about that, and we talked about that back in the fall at media day, and he’s shared his concerns about Howard and asked about Howard a lot. So, that showed me who Juwan is, and who coach Howard is, and that trumps [any] other thoughts that anybody else on the outside may have,” Gard said.
It all comes to fruition on Tuesday night when the two teams meet each other for the first time, with both seasons on the line.