Michigan coach Juwan Howard was seen consoling Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler after the Wolverines defeated the Volunteers, 76-68, in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
A hard-fought season ended in the early exit for Tennessee. Overcome with emotion, Chandler was seen on the floor in tears as he and his teammates headed home.
Howard, who knows how tough the tournament is on players and coaches, went over to make sure Chandler was doing all right. Howard was a part of the Fab Five Michigan team that lost to North Carolina in the 1993 championship game when Chris Webber erroneously called a timeout when the team didn’t have any more to call. It resulted in a technical foul and later the loss.
Howard told reporters after the game that he knows Chandler on a personal level because he played with his son Jett in AAU and said he gave the guard some encouragement.
"Just watching his growth, I've always been impressed. We recruited him and unfortunately we weren't that lucky. But to see the output, the effort, the growth and being able to produce like that on the floor and how he led his team in a special way – I gave him words of encouragement. It shows his emotion, that he cares. As coaches, you appreciate that," Howard said, via ESPN.
Chandler echoed Howard’s sentiments.
"He said to keep my head up. It's tough for me, and he knew I wanted to get the win. I know him. I've played with his son since, like, fourth grade," he said. "So I know him for a long time. He's a great coach. I love him. He told me to keep my head up and you played your heart out, that's what he told me."
Chandler was a five-star recruit coming out of high school. He was a First Team All-SEC selection during the 2021-22 season after averaging 13.9 points, 4.7 assists and 2.2 steals.