The Michigan basketball program made the announcement of Billy Donlon and Saddi Washington's hiring as assistance official on Wednesday. Both coaches are very familiar with head coach John Beilein and his system.
Beilein, who spent some time Thursday morning on WTKA 1050 with Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub, discussed the hiring and what the mindset was heading into a position where hiring two new assistants was a necessity.
“What I did was I went back through the nine years and what has made us the most successful here and what has really allowed us to have the success we’ve had,” Beilein said. “The recruiting area in the Big Ten is huge, that we could cover that. We’ve certainly had some success outside the area, Tim Hardaway is a great example of that. Nik Stauskas another example of that where we found the right guys. Still, the lifeblood of the program is going to be the Caris LeVert’s, the Glenn Robinson’s, the Mitch McGary’s, the Spike Albrecht’s. Guys like that who are in the footprint of the Big Ten.
“We decided we wanted to get regional guys who could also really teach. That was the big thing, could teach and could bring me new ideas. What really helped us a lot, we won a lot at West Virginia and the game changed a lot. I came here and I had to change, bring me new ideas guys and let’s implement them.”
For Beilein, he was familiar with Donlon having to coach against him when Donlon was coaching at UNC-Wilmington. His tough defensive style of play was something that had stuck with Beilein. With that in mind, Donlon's ability to teach was a major factor in Beilein's decision to hire him.
“I looked at defensive numbers a lot like Jim Harbaugh did when he hired his defensive coordinator,” Beilein said. “What are the defensive numbers over time? I think he had one year where he was crushed by injuries. I wanted personality to relate with the kids and a guy on the offensive end could personal development. We hit the bulls-eye in all of those areas with Bill.”
Beilein and Washington know each other very well and have some past history with one another. Before hiring Bacari Alexander, Beilein interviewed Washington for an open assistant position. That position, of course, would wind up going to Alexander. However, the knowledge in local recruiting Washington will bring to the program will be extremely valuable according to Beilein.
“As I said in the press release he reminds me a lot of Val Jordan,” Beilein said. “He’s got that poise and presence about him. He was a great player, not a good player, a great player. Sometimes it’s hard for those guys to teach the game, I had him in and I had him work out a couple of our managers. I wanted to hear his terminology what he emphasized, all these things. He was excellent. He and I for nine years, every time I saw him, I sit with Saddi all the time. We just talked basketball, talked recruiting. I would say, ‘what’s going on with this kid?’ and he would give me a chapter on what’s going with the kid whether it’s in the state, in Ohio. He always had his ear on the ground with everything.
“I thought it was important to get an in-state guy again and he’s going to be excellent. He’s going to work with all positions. Last time when I did not hire him I said I needed a guy that worked with the big men and Bacari (Alexander) was getting to be better at that. He took it as a challenge and went back to Greg (Kampe) to ask if he can work with the big men because if Bacari ever left, he’d want to come to Michigan to be the big man coach. It’s pretty cool how it all developed.”