Brotherly rivalry fueling Marquette's Howard
MILWAUKEE -- One of the first congratulatory text messages that Central Arkansas guard Jordan Howard received after scoring a career-high 41 points came from his little brother.
Marquette's Markus Howard can fill up the net, too.
"Mama there goes that man!!!" Markus posted on Twitter after his older brother's 41-point effort on Jan. 10 against Incarnate Word set Central Arkansas' single-game record in a Division I game.
Two of the best long-distance shooters in the NCAA are bonded by brotherhood.
Sophomore Markus Howard is averaging 21.5 points per game. He burned Providence for 52 points in a 95-90 overtime win on Jan. 3 to tie the Big East record and break a Marquette record that had stood for more than a quarter-century.
"Oh my gosh, it's ridiculous how much we compete with each other," Markus said recently. "It's all friendly -- it's just brotherly competition."
Senior Jordan Howard has the edge in scoring average at 24.3 points going into this week.
"No pressure. I would say just motivation ... He motivates me to continue to have the great seasons that we're both having," Jordan said.
Averaging a combined 46.6 points, the Howards are scoring at a pace comparable to another pair of sweet-shooting siblings.
In 2008-09, Stephen Curry averaged 28.6 points a game in his third and final season at Davidson. That same year, little brother Seth Curry averaged 20.2 points in his first and only season at Liberty.
"That's super-cool names to be held up against," Jordan Howard said.
The Howards' roots trace back to Arizona, where the oldest brother, Desmond, played basketball in junior college. Markus describes Desmond as more of a traditional, pass first-type of point guard who excelled at reading defenses.
In the offseason, Desmond organizes the extensive workouts that Jordan and Markus credit for helping them get acclimated to the college game.
They're on the court twice a day, with the first workout typically no later than 6 a.m. Jordan outlined one routine that started with having to make three shots in a row from different spots on the floor, starting at halfcourt. They'll sprint to a corner for three more.
That's followed by a sprint to the top of the key, with drives left or right for pull-up jumpers; then a sprint to the opposite corner for three more 3s. The grueling process ends only after they've made two NBA-length 3-pointers.
"That's where we're shooting more of our 3s -- we shoot from NBA (range) and beyond," Jordan said.
Any miss at any point means they have to start the whole sequence all over again.
"We do different drills that are `game on the line' to where when I see it in a game, it's like I've done it before," Markus said.
As a freshman, he led the nation in 3-point shooting at 54 percent, which also set a Marquette record. He was shooting 39 percent from the 3-point line this year, but taking nearly twice as many 3s per game while drawing more attention from defenses.
Marquette assistant coach Stanley Johnson has known Howard since the guard was in seventh grade.
"He's starting to understand that just his presence, just being on the floor -- you create opportunities for other people, even when it's not maybe your night," Johnson said. "That in itself is a weapon."
In his final year of eligibility, Jordan is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. A career 41 percent shooter from the arc, he is the Southland Conference's career leader in 3s.
That's a lot of long-distance shots witnessed by their father, Chuck Howard, who is the corporate wellness administrator at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
"It's been a lot of fun," Chuck said. "These guys have been working so hard for so many years."
It truly has been a family affair for the Howards.
The father, who played college football at Indiana, used to be the director of strength training at Grand Canyon before moving to his new position this past year. It gives him more time to watch his sons play in person.
Chuck speaks with just as much pride about his sons' accomplishments off the court.
Desmond is a life coach and owns a basketball skills training business in Phoenix. Jordan graduated with honors with a degree in digital filmmaking in December.
Markus, a digital media major, was named to the NCAA Division I men's basketball oversight committee as a non-voting member in December. UNC Ashville guard Kevin Vannatta is the only other student on the committee made up primarily of coaches and administrators.
"Our whole focus hopefully is that basketball is an opportunity and platform to lead into being great citizens after they're done," Chuck said. "Basketball is a great vehicle for life -- that's something we've always tried to impart for them."