The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 41 of 75

42 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2021 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE U nique, unconventional, diffi- cult — call it what you want; all of those adjectives, and then some, apply when it comes to college athletics in 2020-21. Every U-M sport played a reduced slate of competitions, was forced to endure daily COVID-19 testing and competed in front of limited in-per- son crowds. On top of the typical bouts with adversity collegiate stu- dent-athletes face on a year-to-year basis, every U-M team also had to deal with events being postponed, and they were able to see family members and friends much less fre- quently than usual. Still, the Wolverines pushed through and enjoyed plenty of ath- letic success in 2020-21, placing third in the Learfield IMG Directors' Cup, which measures the nation's best overall athletic departments. All told, the Wolverines captured one team national title (women's gymnastics), three individual na- tional titles (all in women's swim- ming and diving), 10 team confer- ence titles and 11 top-10 team finishes nationally, including seven in the top five. Twenty-five U-M athletes were named All-Americans, and 27 earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition. Twelve Wolverines claimed individ- ual conference titles. Here's a look at the best of the best, beyond the top male and female teams and athletes of the year: COACHES OF THE YEAR Male Sport Coach Of The Year Juwan Howard, Basketball Howard has now taken home The Wolverine's Male Sport Coach of the Year award two straight years, and for good reason, after a stellar second season on the job. The former U-M All-American turned head man was named the As- sociated Press Coach of the Year, the first U-M coach to receive the honor since Bill Frieder in 1985. Howard and Frieder are the only two Michi- gan coaches who have ever taken home the accolade. Howard was also named National Coach of the Year by Sporting News and The Athletic, and the Big Ten me- dia and coaches also recognized the 48-year-old as the conference's Coach of the Year, after he led his Maize and Blue squad to the program's 15th outright Big Ten regular-season championship in school history. U-M finished the campaign with a 23-5 record and a 14-3 mark in Big Ten play, prior to earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history (1985 and 1993 — Howard's sophomore year — being the other two). While coaching in his first-ever NCAA Tournament, Howard led the Wolverines to their fourth consecu- tive Sweet Sixteen (an active streak that only Gonzaga can match) and eventually the Elite Eight, where they came inches away from a Final Four berth before falling to UCLA, 51-49. Female Sport Coach Of The Year Bev Plocki, Gymnastics Plocki is an easy choice for this su- CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION Looking Back At A Challenging, But Rewarding, Year For Michigan Athletics Head men's basketball coach Juwan Howard became the second person in history to be named Associated Press Coach of the Year after earning AP All-America honors as a player in college, joining former Western Kentucky point guard and Minnesota head man Clem Haskins. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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