We’re just two years into Juwan Howard’s coaching tenure at the University of Michigan, and already the former Fab Five member has the Wolverines playing as a championship contender.

Michigan is 14-1 on the season with a 9-1 mark in B1G play, regarded as the best conference in college basketball. The Wolverines have earned a No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press Poll and are considered a near-lock to land a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, barring any crazy circumstances.

Go back when Howard was hired, and there were some people who would’ve said he wasn’t capable of leading the program. There were plenty of doubters in his coaching ability, and Howard has not forgotten about the naysayers.

“Of course I’ve heard it,” Howard said, according to 247Sports. “You’re trying to get me to make this — no, I’m not saying you’re trying to get me. I’m not here to make this a big issue. I just want to tell you this: I’ve always been very, extremely competitive since I started playing sports, whether it was basketball, baseball. I didn’t play competitive football, but in our neighborhood, we did play against each neighborhood’s park in football, where it was tackle football with no equipment. That level of mental toughness has prepared me for whatever has been thrown in my direction.

“Yeah, I hear the doubters. I’m not gonna sit here like I don’t hear the noise before I got hired. And also, still, to this day, I hear the backhanded compliments. Am I competitive? Of course, I am. But I’m also about improving and having the growth mindset of how I can get better to be the best version of myself to help prepare this team, and more importantly to represent this fine institution the best way possible. That’s my No. 1 goal. That’s what drives me. That’s what really excites me.

“Yeah, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about plays, thinking about defensive situations, thinking about how I can get better, how I can help prepare the team. Because I’m a perfectionist. I have that — if you see my desk now, I’m a very organized person, but as my wife says, I have this type A personality. That’s how I’m wired. I wouldn’t have been able to last 19 years in the NBA if I didn’t have a certain edge about me. To get back into coaching, for six years as an assistant coach, the Miami Heat staff and also I took upon myself to prepare myself to become a head coach someday. I worked at this. And I’m gonna continue to keep working. I love it. People always doubt or have their (own) opinions. And they have every right to their opinion.”

Michigan’s most impressive win of the season came on Sunday, when they defeated a ranked Wisconsin team in Madison. The Wolverines were playing their first game after a three-week pause and overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to upend the Badgers.

Plenty of tough tests still lie ahead for Michigan, but Howard has certainly proven that he’s more than capable of leading the program.