Monday, August 13, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
WHAT BRINGS THEM TO MICHIGAN
s Herring ( Daily Sports Writer
It seems as if Michigan men's
basketball coach John Beilein could
have just as easily gone into the con-
struction business as becoming a
coach. That's because the 59-year-
old has made his passion for build-
ing incredibly clear.
Specifically, the Burt, N.Y.
native takes pride in leaving pro-
grams in better shape than what
he found them.
"It's what drives me," Beilein
said of being able to lift a struggling
program. "We had some success at
West Virginia and did things that
some people didn't think we could
do. It's a good feeling to be able to
At each of his three Division I
coaching stops, Beilein has taken a
club that had a losing tradition and
righted the ship within two years. At
Canisius, the team was a dismal 8-
22 before Beilein arrived from LeM-
oyne, a Division II program. In just
its second season (1993-94) under
Beilein, Canisius turned things
around completely - finishing 22-7,
winning the conference and reach-
ing the NIT. Just two years after
that, Beilein took the school to its
second NCAA Tournament.
The same thing happened at
Richmond, Beilein's second Divi-
sion I stop. The Spiders were a dis-
appointing 13-15 in 1996 - the year
before he arrived - and an eye
opening, NCAA Tournament berth
worthy 23-8 in Beilein's first season
His tenure at West Virginia was
no different. Three years after
accepting the job therc tiein d7 l
eight wins in 2001- By Chri
2002 before his
arrival to a 24-win campaign and
Elite Eight performance by year
"I think he flourishes in positions
that require rebuilding to be done,"
said West Virginia wrestling coach
Craig Turnbull, who has coached
the team for 27 years and has had
to share the same arena floor with
Beilein's basketball teams for the
last five years. "It seems tobe a real
strength of his to be able to build a
program. It forces him to pay atten-
tion to the little details along the
Beilein's track record - awinning
record in 26 of 29 years as a coach -
has forced athletic directors across
the country to pay attention to him.
And Beilein deserves every bit of
that attention, according Canisius
baseball coach Mike Rappl.
"If you check his history, each
placehe goesit's more of a challenge
each time because he's done so well
everywhere he's been," said Rappl,
who coached women's basketball
at Canisius during Beilein's stint
there and still remembers playing
high school basketball against the
Michigan coach. "He's been sought
after because he's always been so
successful. I don't think he's neces-
sarily trying to build a program and
then leave. He's just always wanted
the challenge and to see what he
could do at the next level, and Mich-
igan is on that next level."
on getting his feet firmly planted on
that level, the newly hired coach was
bombarded with questions concern-
There was the $1.5 million buyout
he had to pay for leaving West Vir-
ginia to come to Ann Arbor, which
he settled after he was hired.
Then there was the issue many
people bring up with schools like
Michigan, where football is far and
away the athletic department's big-
gest draw. But Beilein addressed the
question of the football program's
"shadow" with the most buoyant
"Are you kidding me?" Beilein
asked rhetorically. "(The football
program at Michigan) is nothingbut
a breath of fresh air and sunshine."
Lastly, and probably least veiled,
people have questioned the coach's
ability to recruit in the state of
Michigan. While Beilein says he has
recruited inside the state before, he
readily admits his lack of familiarity
with the area.
But he claims that issue had no
bearing on his decision to come to
Michigan whatsoever. "Having to
recruit in an area I'm unfamiliar
with would never be a deterrent in
terms of me taking a job," he said.
"You just getfamiliar with it. It's not
And even if the recruiting pro-
cess was rocket science, you have to
believe it wouldn't change a thing
for the optimistic Beilein.
It would just make for that much
more of a challenge.
Junior Michigan women's
basketball player Carly Benson
thought she knew where she want-
the coach, the
enough, the sc
more than an
No, the sch'
Benson had he
being my No. 2
"It was actuall
became her de
She made t
Green Bay fin
feeling a stron
Green Bay's co
But even t
stop her from
sion she did.
me when I wa
have had mor
play in the Big
when it come
gan for the int
to hire Dawn
II Grand Vall
years, as an
career. She had Before coming to Ann.Arbor to
fallen in love with take a job as an associate head coach,
program had a win- Plitzuweit had to resign her post.
and, as if that wasn't Though it may seem like a common-
hool was only a little sense decision to take an associate
hour away from the head coaching position at a more
s home. visible program, keep in mind that
ool wasn't Michigan. the 36-year-old had won a National
r eyes set on Wiscon- Championship at Grand Valley.
And Plitzuweit was in the run-
-Green Bay ended up ning for numerous Division I head
choice," Benson said. coaching positions after leading her
y No. 1 for awhile." team to the title in 2006.
though, Michigan "Her (taking a less authoritative
stination. job) says a lot about Michigan," Mar-
hat choice following tin said. "The block 'M' as abrand is
5 season, in which so powerful that she just wanted to
nished 27-4 and the be at this program."
re 5-23. Plitzuweit herself said that
that choice despite Michigan was "absolutely" the only
iger connection with school where she would have taken
sach at the time, now a lesser position than the one she
sen's basketball coach held at Grand Valley.
, than with the Wol- And as for Benson, she can't wait
i Burnett. for the upcoming season. Benson
hose things couldn't always wondered what it would be
reaching the conclu- like to play for Borseth since declin-
ing his offer to play at Wisconsin-
s that were recruiting Green Bay.
is in high school may Now she'll finally know.
re successful teams," "My decision to (turn down Wis-
'But it's hard to turn consin-Green Bay to) go to Michi-
an and the chance to gan had nothing to do with coach
Ten." Borseth," Benson said. "He was the
e Benson's not alone whole reason I originally wanted
s to choosing Michi- to go to Green Bay. Now I feel like
angibles. I have the best of both worlds with
Athletic Director Bill him here as the coach."
the program's ability
ey State women's bas-
for the previous five
example of someone
lhigan despite having
Being comfortable has. always
been important to Borseth. That
accounts for much of the reason he
has held just two Division I head-