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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Howard throws punch after Gard, Badgers take down Wolverines in Sunday matchup

Coach Gard's late-game timeout and alleged touching of Juwan Howard sparked an eye-opening altercation after Sunday afternoon's game.

Tempers flared at the Kohl Center on Sunday afternoon immediately following Wisconsin’s 77-63 win over Michigan.

Coaches Greg Gard and Juwan Howard met on the sideline and exchanged words in an animated confrontation. Wolverine players attempted to hold Howard back before he punched Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft. The attack prompted both teams’ players to get involved and a few more punches were thrown before the sides separated. 

In his postgame press conference, Howard voiced dissatisfaction over Gard’s calling a timeout with 15 seconds remaining — the Badgers held a 15-point lead at the time. The Michigan head coach added that Gard’s touching him was what provoked the punch. 

“I think that was very uncalled for, for him to touch me as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another,” Howard said. “That’s what escalated it.”

Gard offered his perspective in an on-court interview after the incident.

“Apparently he didn’t like that I called a timeout to reset the 10-second call. We only had four seconds to get the ball over halfcourt and I had all my bench guys in the game,” Gard explained. “I didn’t want to put them in that position of scrambling with only four seconds, so I took a timeout and got us a new 10 seconds.”

Frustration at this point of the season is understandable for Howard and the 14-11 Wolverines, who were widely considered one of the B1G’s best teams entering the season yet are currently seventh in the conference.

That said, Howard’s display was a shocking one which has prompted reactions from many figures across the NCAA including Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh, who urged a prompt B1G response to the incident.

“It’s unfortunate what transpired. I’ve been in contact with the league, I’ve spoken to the commissioner personally. I expect the league is going to act swiftly and aggressively,” McIntosh said in a press conference Sunday afternoon. 

“We’ve got staff that have been affected and injured, hit in the face. It’s difficult for me to compose myself in the defense of our staff and our team, who did not instigate this event,” the first-year athletic director said with apparent emotion. 

Whether Howard receives punishment for his actions, be it a fine or a suspension, should have little bearing on the Badgers as they look ahead to their final four regular-season contests. 

At 12-4, the 15th-ranked Badgers currently occupy third place in the conference, however they trail first-place Purdue by only half a game. Led by sophomore shooting guard Johnny Davis, who scored 25 points in Sunday’s win, Wisconsin has surpassed all expectations this season and appears primed for a favorable seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament. 

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The B1G’s response to Sunday’s altercation and any potential discipline should become clear in the near future. 

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