The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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18 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2018 BY CHRIS BALAS M ichigan head coach John Beilein will enter his 12th season at U-M this year af- ter flirting with the NBA's Detroit Pistons for a bit. He sat down with The Wolverine this summer to talk about his program, his team's run to the NCAA championship game and the future in this Q&A. The Wolverine: You flirted with coaching in the NBA, interviewing with the Detroit Pistons before decid- ing to stay in Ann Arbor. Is that some- thing you'd still pursue if other NBA teams came calling? Beilein: "To be clear, they did not offer me the job. But I think I ran that race. You can't run that race too many times. And I don't know what I would have done [had the Pistons offered] with where I am in my life right now … "This decade of Michigan basketball has been pretty good. I want to fin- ish this decade and beyond having a program that is always in the hunt for a Big Ten championship. That's any- where in the top five, a couple games out. I think this league is going to be excellent for years to come." The Wolverine: Your new contract is for a reported $4 million and adds two years, then rolls over each season after that. What's the rationale behind the agreement, and how long do you anticipate coaching? Beilein: "This is new territory for just about everybody in their life when they get to this point. I'm working out hard, doing squats and everything. I feel good, so I don't know where it will all end. "The whole idea is let's not get to this thing where every three years we have to put an extension in, because it's working. [Director of athletics] Warde [Manuel] has a lot of faith in that. "I'll know when it's right [to retire], and there won't be any big deal. It will be like, 'Coach resigned today.' I will know when will be the right time. It's not now. "One thing I pride myself in is hav- ing good knowledge of a lot of things, because I have experience. I don't think anyone has experience in, 'When's a good time to stop coaching?' I think your health would tell you something about that, and I'm healthy as a horse." The Wolverine: You weren't the only one flirting with the NBA. Moritz Wag- ner left and was drafted in the first round, and Charles Matthews thought about it before deciding to return. What's your message to the players that want to test the waters? Beilein: "I like it when they're lead- ing themselves a little bit and not just following direction, and I try to paint the picture on both sides going in. I make sure they're making this choice for the right reasons, and then you go with it. "If they make that decision to go out — even if you disagree with them — it's their decision. As a result, they're more apt if they come back to return with a good attitude, as opposed to you forced them one way or another. "I want them to make what's an educated decision for them. I'll guide them, and then once they make the decision I jump 100 percent on board with them. If they came back, they came back on their own will." The Wolverine: How much pride do you take in the fact that the program has put nine players in the NBA dur- ing your tenure? Beilein: "Moe gives us seven first- rounders, and with Glenn Robinson [a second-round pick] that's eight NBA players in the last six years, and seven are still there. Mitch McGary is not there anymore. "You look back, Bernard Robinson Jr. was drafted [in the second round in 2004], but then you had to go all the way back to Jamal Crawford in 2000 that we had anyone drafted. "In the country, only Kentucky, UCLA and Duke had more drafted in the NBA [in the last six years]. When they say we don't recruit … it's such a subjective thing." The Wolverine: Speaking of which, different programs have varying strat- egies when it comes to recruiting. How would you describe yours? Beilein: "I think we have a good system right now — it's who's really interested in us? And we'll find them. "As we've seen, that can really be productive if you find the right guys who are going to get better and they understand who we are. They un- derstand that we're not offering a lot of scholarships, and you have to have unique interest in us to get one, whether it's by visiting or something else. We can just tell. "We can tell whether they get the Michigan brand and know, 'The way they play is very attractive to me.' You recruit those guys, and you're not chas- ing the ratings. You're chasing the right fit for Michigan because the ratings are not accurate. They're so subjective, it's crazy. "I do know there are some coaching staffs that look at the top 100 players, and they're trying to get two or three. That's all they're looking at, those 100 guys. "We're not. Certainly that's a tem- plate we can work from, but we're looking at so many guys we hear about that people have never heard of." The Wolverine: What are your final thoughts on the 2017-18 season and the incredible postseason run? Beilein: "First of all, we accom- plished it because we had no injuries and no distractions. We had one in- jury to Moe, which I think helped us gain confidence in [sophomore big man] Jon Teske. Jon was tremendous at Iowa. "When I say no distractions, we didn't have issues with guys that weren't playing, laying down in prac- tice or missing classes. We just didn't Q&A With John Beilein Michigan Basketball's Head Coach Talks After His Team's Great Season Beilein has gone 248-143 (.634 winning per- centage) in his 11 years at Michigan, includ- ing a 111-87 (.561) mark in Big Ten play. If his first three seasons are excluded, those records rise to 202-90 (.692) and 90-54 (.625), respectively. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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