After every game, win or loss, Juwan Howard approaches each player in the Michigan locker room with a message, thanking them for their individual effort. Saturday night, after a deflating 11-point loss to Ohio State, Howard made his way to Moussa Diabate last.
“To see the fire in his eyes, he didn’t really want to look up at me,” Howard recounted. “I know he was thinking back to a lot of plays in his head.”
Thursday night, when asked to rehash that moment, Diabate did so bluntly.
“I was angry,” the freshman remembered. “Maybe my teammates ain’t gonna say it, but I feel like I cost us the game.”
Michigan limped into Iowa City Thursday night and escaped with a well-played, five-point victory over the Hawkeyes, jolting life into their teetering NCAA Tournament hopes. Diabate stood at the center of it all, notching a season-best 28 points on 12-of-15 shooting along with 8 rebounds. He vanquished his qualms from Saturday, making Iowa pay with a brilliant performance, the finest of his young collegiate career.