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Stadium and Main: April 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Beilein begins browsing for brownstones between Briarwood & Bursley

I figured I'd leave the cheesy Beilein/Beeline puns to the rest, and go with some 5th grade alliteration instead. So the former WVU coach is looking for a new home in Ann Arbor, and I'm cool with it. You might remember my thoughts back on February 11th:
"Count me in the camp of John Beilein of WVU. This guy has taken a team that lost everybody from last season and made them a NCAA Tournament team, even beating UCLA yesterday. Compare that to what Amaker has done in a season where he returned virtually everybody, as Seniors, no less. In fact, compare any of Beilein’s seasons to Amaker’s, and it will likely make you ill. And, in case you missed it, he’s doing it at West Virginia. West! Virginia! And we’re not talking Big East Football here. Big East Basketball is arguably the best in the country year-in and year-out. Quite impressive. Get this guy to Ann Arbor ASAP."
Unfortunately (for WVU fans), I was premature with the NCAA bid projection. But I don't think there's any doubt that the Mountaineers were a decent team this year. And what Beilein has done at previous stops is equally impressive. Now we get to see what he can do at a school with a solid tradition, albeit one with some serious improvements to make (both on and off the court). So what does Beilein have to do to make Michigan Basketball matter again? A few things, in no particular order:

1 - Try to save the recruiting class. Manny Harris and Kelvin Grady appear to be sticking with Michigan, so start by making Alex Legion understand that he is the perfect fit for Beilein's system. A tallish guard with a good shooting touch? Beilein lets those types take 12 3-pointers a game and gets serious production out of them. Bottom line - He makes them better and they make his teams better. Legion would be wise to listen to what Coach B (is that what people are going to call him?) has to say.

2 - Dispell the two myths. (1) Right now, there are still tons of folks who think Beilein plays a slow, boring type of offense. As others have pointed out, the stats simply don't agree with that notion. I find it laughable that people are already convinced that Beilein's offenses are habitually stagnant. Um, have you seen a Michigan basketball game in the past 5 years or so? Pass around the perimeter, pass around the perimeter, launch a 3 as the shot clock runs out. The offense will be improved, especially in the long term. (2) The other myth that has been perpetuated (in, like, 5 days, which is insane) is that Beilein can't recruit. Much of this has focused on whether he will be able to recruit in/around Detroit, and many folks are already convinced that he won't. I say give the guy a chance. I'm sure we'll miss out on a few me-first guys, or guys that are looking for a paycheck instead of a learning experience, but I also think Beilein will have some success recruiting. As bad as things have been, Michigan is still Michigan. Many kids grow up liking the school, for one reason or another. And some (some) kids and parents still value a quality education. I'm more confident in Beilein's offense than his recruiting, but I'm willing to give him the chance to prove himself before writing him off.

3 - Sell the program year 'round. I read somewhere that Beilein had a weekly radio show in West Virginia. He needs to do that and then some in Michigan. Radio shows, TV shows, newspaper ads, whatever it takes. Amaker was great with the Alumni groups, even making a few trips down to visit our crew in D.C., but he didn't sell other (more imporant?) folks: recruits, fans, the Average Joe. Beilein needs to get people talking about Michigan Basketball, even if we lose 20 games next year. You're the face and the voice of the program - get your face and voice out there.

4 - Push for facilities upgrades. Duh. Let's hope this was negotiated, or at least discussed, when Beilein met with Martin this week.

When Amaker was hired, plenty of Seton Hall fans thanked us. When Beilein was hired, every West Virginia fan cursed us. He's a great X's and O's coach, a likeable guy, and he runs things by the book. All things considered, I'm happy with this hire and I think the future of Michigan Basketball is in good hands.

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