The deal is done. Former longtime St. Joseph’s basketball coach Phil Martelli will be a top assistant to new Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.

Let go as Hawks head coach in March after 24 seasons, Martelli had said the next day he wanted to return to a sideline.

“I do know this, 40 hours later,’’ Martelli said. “I do have the juice. I do want to coach again. I won’t let it scar me.”

Many people — most probably — had expected Martelli, 64, to segue into television. That hadn’t been his initial primary thought. He didn’t rule it out, but made it clear he considered himself a coach.

“I want, and in a way need, to be on a sideline,’’ Martelli had said in March. “Not to justify my career at St. Joseph’s. To have an impact, on players, on a campus, on a student body.”

Juwan Howard was introduced as the new head coach at Michigan last week.
Carlos Osorio / AP
Juwan Howard was introduced as the new head coach at Michigan last week.

There were no openings this offseason where Martelli seemed a prime contender. But this move makes sense in that Howard had never worked at a college. An experienced hand next to him is almost mandatory.

Howard, a Miami Heat assistant since 2013 who was hitting NBA short lists for head-coaching positions, spent almost two decades in the NBA as a player after being a member of Michigan’s famed Fab Five squad in the early 1990s.

This will be different for Martelli, not being in charge. He last was an assistant coach in 1994-95, working at St. Joe’s. Martelli coached the Hawks to seven NCAA Tournaments in his time in charge, reaching the Elite Eight in 2004. St. Joe’s reached the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and 2016, but had a 41-55 record over the last three seasons, prompting the change. Now he moves to a program that reached the NCAA championship game in 2018 under John Beilein, who left Michigan this spring to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.