One of basketball’s most innovative offensive minds will be staying at the college level.
John Beilein announced via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon that he intends to coach at Michigan “next season and in the years to come.” Beilein had previously had discussions with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons about their vacant head coaching job.
I love the University of Michigan and I am excited about coaching our Men’s Basketball Team next season and in the years to come ! Let’s go hang some more banners at “THE GREATEST UNIVERSITY IN THE WORLD “#GoBlue
— John Beilein (@JohnBeilein) June 6, 2018
Beilein’s pledge to remain at Michigan could be an indication that he had second thoughts about leaving Ann Arbor or that the Pistons have opted to go in a different direction. Former Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey was reportedly the other leading candidate to land the Pistons job.
Dwane Casey met with Detroit owner Tom Gores on Tuesday, league sources tell ESPN — and now, Michigan's John Beilein has pulled out of Pistons search. Beilein had talked separately with Gores and Detroit management in process, league sources said. https://t.co/xORqCFIn5Z
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 6, 2018
What does Beilein’s return mean for Michigan?
Retaining Beilein is a massive victory for a Michigan program that has ascended into the Big Ten’s upper tier under his leadership. The Wolverines have made the NCAA tournament eight of the past 10 seasons under Beilein and have twice advanced to the national to game, falling against Louisville in 2013 and Villanova this past April.
With Beilein back, Michigan is well positioned to extend its momentum next season. Five of the top eight players from last year’s team are expected back including potential Big Ten player of the year candidate Charles Matthews, fellow returning starters Zavier Simpson and Isaiah Livers and NCAA tournament hero Jordan Poole.
At a time when many prominent college basketball programs are under federal investigation because of allegations of bribery and corruption, Beilein’s return is also important for the sport. In a survey conducted by CBSSports.com last August, Beilein’s peers voted him the high-major coach they were most confident operates completely within the NCAA’s rulebook.
Why would the Pistons job have interested Beilein?
It’s common for college basketball coaches to express interest in vacant jobs as a leverage play in order to secure more money, but that’s probably not what Beilein was doing here. The 65-year-old already makes more than $3 million dollars per year at Michigan and he and school administrators were already engaged in talks about a raise and a contract extension.
There’s a far better chance that the challenge of seeing if he could succeed at basketball’s highest level is what appealed to Beilein. He has already ascended every rung of the college basketball ladder, having spent 14 years coaching at Erie Community College, Nazareth College and Le Moyne College before he landed his first Division I gig at Canisius.
Could Beilein have succeeded with the Pistons?
Beilein certainly has the Xs-and-Os pedigree to have thrived at the NBA level. He has mellowed and grown more flexible in recent years as well, but it’s a reasonable question whether his detail-oriented meticulousness would have played well with a locker room of millionaires over the course of an 82-game NBA schedule.
The other issue that has short-circuited many a college coach’s bid to jump to the NBA is that the rosters they’ve inherited haven’t been good enough. The Pistons missed the playoffs this past season and have roughly $75 million per year committed to stars Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson both of the next two seasons.
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