John Beilein, now the former basketball coach of the Michigan Wolverines, is taking the head coach job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was an unexpected departure. This will be his first experience coaching a team at the professional level. He had been with Michigan for twelve years.
After over a decade with the Michigan Wolverines, head coach John Beilein became a fixture of the Big Ten. Only Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Matt Painter (Purdue) had longer tenures in the conference. Now, Beilein will get the chance to see how his coaching style translates to the NBA in Cleveland.
Over his career, which includes four Division I schools, he has amassed 571 wins (.637 career W-L). In fact, only four of his 27 seasons ended with a losing record. He has qualified for 13 NCAA tournaments and took the 2013 and 2018 Michigan squads to the Final Four. Overall he totaled 754 collegiate career wins when you include his division II stats.
His type of game should prove fruitful in the modern NBA. For one, he encourages the three-point shot out of his Michigan teams. Last year, only Purdue and Michigan State took more threes in the Big Ten. Beilein also runs a fast-paced offense that seems to be on the move constantly, and the pace of the NBA is only quickening. Many UM fans may have to root against Beilein now, though, as his new team is a division rival of the Detroit Pistons.
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With the Cavaliers, John Beilein will inherit a bad team, sure, but one with several young, workable pieces. Veteran Kevin Love anchors the group, although he missed significant time in 2018 due to injury. The pair of 26 year-olds, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. have found success, both starting and coming off the bench. 2018 first round pick, Collin Sexton, led the team in points and shot 40% from three. Owing to their poor performance this season, they will also have a 14% chance at the first pick in next month’s draft, ostensibly Duke’s Zion Williamson.
As mentioned, this departure was surprising. The last two Michigan teams were among the strongest teams he has coached. Potential incoming recruits indicate Michigan’s success is not about to come to an end. To take on one of the worst teams in the NBA last year will undoubtedly be a challenge for Beilein. As he has shown in Ann Arbor, however, he can take an average team and turn it into a competitor. Only one Michigan team even ranked in the top 25 under previous head coach, Tommy Amaker.
The Michigan Wolverines lost a good coach in John Beilein. Although he never led them to an NCAA Championship, he brought them several tournament appearances and a handful of conference championships. Furthermore, he did it all while maintaining a clean reputation in a league frequently troubled by controversy.
The Wolverines will have big shoes to fill at the head spot. Michigan fans should be sad to see John go; he made Michigan basketball relevant. The same fans shouldn’t be upset especially if this move is a lifelong goal for Beilein, he’s 66-years old, and this will be the first time he will coach in the NBA.