High School & AAU Coaches Sound Off (Part 6)

In Michigan's search for its next basketball coach much has been made of the next coach's ability to recruit and relate to the high school and AAU coaches in the state. Ironically, no one has spoken to many of the people that must be related to, so GoBlueWolverine has been busy doing just that. In part six we spoke to former Detroit Rogers coach, and current Detroit Northwestern coach, Steve Hall.

Steve Hall led Detroit Rogers (now closed) to three consecutive Class D State titles.  He now coaches at Detroit Northwestern.

What does the next Michigan coach have to do to thrive?

"It has to be a coach that can spark interest in the program while maintaining the integrity of the program. Michigan is not a win at all costs university. He will need to be able to generate a high level of interest in Michigan basketball. You look at other schools that have white outs, sell outs, fan sections, students jumping up and down going nuts. That is something that generates interest in the program.  The university and the next coach will need to do that together."

The favorite for the coaching job at Michigan appears to be John Beilein.  What do you think of that?

"It is hard to dispute the fact that he has been successful at West Virginia, in a league as good as the Big East. Coach Beilein is not the hot shot, upstart, young energetic type, but he is a safe bet for Michigan. It is not a high risk move for Michigan."

 Why is that?

"Because of his image.  When Tommy Amaker came in he was brought in to change and clean up the image of Michigan. With John Beilein there is no risk in damaging that. He is not a young guy that you would question about how long he will be there.  He has older kids so you would think he will be around for a while. Coach Beilein is not a flashy or flamboyant type of guy.  He is someone that would project the right image for Michigan. There are other coaches that would definitely spark more interest, but they may not project the image that Michigan desires.

How well do you think he would do here in terms of recruiting?

"I don’t have any concrete evidence to say what he would be able to do in this state. I do know that regardless who is hired, there are certain people that would help the process to recruit the state. He would need some knowledgeable people on his staff that know the area well enough to recruit the kids here."

What are some of the things that you've seen Michigan State do to be successful that think Michigan should emulate?

"Well, I definitely believe Michigan State has had an upper hand on the state. They are highly visible and personable, and because of that, people are comfortable with them. The next Michigan coach needs to bridge the gap between himself and the basketball community in the state and be more visible.  Another thing that is important is identity.  When Michigan had the Fab Five and Michigan State had the Flintstones, a lot of people identified with those players. It appears that the Michigan program lacks that.  They need a personality and an identity that people can relate to."

Is there a blueprint for being a successful coach at Michigan?

"There is not a single blueprint for success in coaching.  Michigan's next coach will just have to be himself, just like Dick Vitale, Bruce Pearl, and Jerry Tarkanian had to be comfortable with whom they were. The next coach will have to market the program so that it will be more appealing. There is no one way to coach, but the end result has to be wins and your teams have to play with passion and play they have to play hard.    

How can administration help the new coach to be successful?

"It is a matter of fighting fire with fire; there are schools that have better facilities. Can Michigan be successful with out upgrading their facilities? Possibly.  But if they want to consistently be among the high level programs, they have to fight fire with fire.  They have to make the same commitment that high level programs have made.  That's what would really help the next coach. The University of Michigan has the potential to be a threat every year to win a national championship. Because of the academic prestige and athletic tradition, they can be very successful. Plus, Michigan is a talent rich state and the talent in this state can play with anyone in the country. If they start getting that talent again, then they'll compete with anyone in the country.  "
How important do you think this year's recruiting class is to the program's success in the near future?

"It is important to keep this class together. I have three reasons why I say that. One, just look at what out of state schools have done by taking our kids out of state. Two, it is going to be tough to go and get guys of this caliber at this time of year most schools are already working on signing the class of 2008. And three, all of those kids that they have can all really play. If they lose even one of those guys, it will set them back."

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