John Beilein: Freshmen "fitting in well"

Michigan coach John Beilein is back from the World University games in Russia, eager to resume workouts with the team this summer and ready to get back out on the recruiting trail for the third leg of the July evaluation period starting Wednesday. VIDEO included.

ANN ARBOR—After spending the better part of a month preparing for and then traveling overseas to Russia in order to be an assistant coach for Team USA in the World University Games, Michigan coach John Beilein is back in the country, back to his normal routine and duties as the man in charge of the Wolverines.

Rewarded with a three-year contract extension last week that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2018-19 season, including a compensation package paying him $2.45 million per year, Beilein isn’t feeling any jet lag nor living with any regrets from the once in a lifetime coaching experience.

“I know the day that I don’t want to get up and go to the office, that’s the day I will not coach anymore,” Beilein said. “I will not do that. I mean, I made all these trips and all these miles and all these redeyes, I couldn’t wait to get to work yesterday.

“I was up early this morning and couldn’t wait to get to work today and I can’t wait to go recruiting tomorrow.”

Far removed from his time as head coach at Erie Community College, earning a salary of $12,000, Beilein’s financial bump and job security not only benefits Michigan and it’s resurgent basketball program, it also provides comfort for prospective recruits, and parents, looking to don the Maize & Blue at the next level.

“I think back in the day when you weren’t looking at 2015 and 2016 kids, your contract goes to 2016 but this was big (cause) they want to know, with young men committing earlier, just looking at long range, they want to see who’s going to be coaching there,” Beilein said.

“My plan was to coach at least five more years, six more years, and put that so that the 2015 class, that’s a class that we’re recruiting as well as the 14’s and I wanted to coach all of those guys.”

With the class of 2013 on campus, in class, and working out at the William Davidson Player Development Center, Beilein is pleased with what he’s seen so far out of Mark Donnal, Indiana’s Mr. Basketball, Zak Irvin, and the point guard looking to follow in Trey Burke’s footsteps, Derrick Walton Jr.

Though time watching the freshmen in person has been scarce due to allotted time according to NCAA rules and Beilein’s travel schedule, information was being shared back and forth on a daily basis.

“I saw them for 45 minutes yesterday and I’ll see them for an hour and 15 minutes today,” Beilein said. “It was good for me to see them but I had great reports (from assistants). With the great technology they were putting video on drop box for me and I could actually watch it.

“They seem to be fitting in well. I think they have great leadership all the way down from Jordan and Jon, down to those five sophomores. Jon and Jordan have seen a lot of great things and seen how teams are built and so in that year, there’s a lot of experience there in those five sophomores that they now have brought right to those freshmen.”

Still three weeks left to work closely work with the current Wolverines, developing skillsets and eliminating bad habits, before coming up with a more detailed and expansive plan come September, Beilein is slowly getting used to the reality that Trey Burke is the point guard for the Utah Jazz and Tim Hardaway Jr. now knocks down timely three-pointers for the New York Knicks.

“The big difference is the back court,” Beilein said. “It looks like it could be brand new or we could shift some people around. That’s the biggest difference.

“Whether it’s Nik (Stauskas) and Caris (LeVert) and these guys in the back court or it’s Derrick and Zak, that’s the biggest difference. But I also like with Glenn, last year, just working on his balance and Mitch was working on his balance, catching the ball on two feet, maximizing and being efficient with his game. And I just watched him yesterday and those are things that are in the past now.”

Other notes

Asked whether or not he’s been able to move forward after the 82-76 loss in the national title game to Louisville, Beilein focuses his thoughts on all the positives but couldn’t help having a laugh after being reminded of Luke Hancock’s outside shooting clinic that appeared as if from nowhere toward the end of the first half on April 8.

“I think about the season (as a whole),” Beilein said. “I try not to dwell on that last game. Obviously, when I went to the Olympic tryouts at the Olympic training center and Luke Hancock couldn’t make a shot for three days, that effected me a little bit, but he made a lot of them over in Russia.”

While Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III hit various camps across the country, performing in front of and impressing NBA scouts with their versatility, fellow returning sophomores Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert haven’t been back in Ann Arbor sleeping. The lengthy guards are putting their time in in the weight room.

“I know that Nik and Caris both are carrying much more weight than they did when they left the season,” Beilein said. “And good weight. I thought Mitch and Glenn, if you go back 12 months and watch when I first saw them work out, their bodies are changing as well in a very positive way.”

Nearly losing an assistant coach from his staff while in Russia, Beilein offered positive words after LaVall Jordan decided to remain with the Wolverines after briefly being courted by Butler, his alma mater, after the surprising departure of coach Brad Stevens.

“I see it very similar to Trey and Tim,” he said. “You recruit and you don’t recruit with the idea that you’re going to lose them to the NBA. You recruit with the idea that you’re going to develop them and continue to grow and maybe something like this could happen.

“I think with all of our assistants, they’re very capable assistants and what they have is the best of both worlds right now. They have a top, high level, coaching environment here at Michigan, so they can be very selective where they would like to go if they were given a head coaching opportunity.

“I feel very confident that he’s (LaVall Jordan), that was a very unique situation with his alma mater that he’d be interested in and I could understand it. If he would’ve been selected and he would’ve taken it, I would’ve understood it 100-percent. But that being said, that next day he was on the phone with me talking so much about the whole recruiting dynamic that we’re going through right now. He jumped right back in and said this is where I want to be and this is where I want to coach -- it was great.”

To watch video of Beilein from Tuesday morning, press play below.

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