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Michigan Basketball: Why Wolverines Have the Big Ten's Best Coaching Staff

John Beilein is establishing a reputation as one of the best coaches in the country. His cabinet isn't too shabby, either.
John Beilein is establishing a reputation as one of the best coaches in the country. His cabinet isn't too shabby, either.David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIOctober 8, 2016

John Beilein's arrival to Ann Arbor in 2007 was a revival for Michigan basketball. 

Since then, the 2014 Naismith finalist has taken the Wolverines to a Final Four, followed by a national title appearance, back-to-back Elite Eights and five NCAA tournaments (four straight). With that being said, rest assured that there is more on the horizon. 

Of course, leading Michigan back to prominence hasn't been a one-man job; the 700-game winner (701-412) has a wonderful complement of knowledge and skill surrounding him—a group of reputable and reliable coaches and assistants who make his job easier and his rest time much more comfortable. 

With a staff comprised of Jeff Meyer, Bacari Alexander, LaVall Jordan and Jon Sanderson, it's safe to say that one of the Big Ten's top collections of coaches resides at Crisler Arena. 

But is it No. 1? One could certainly enter the arena of debate with that argument...and win.

 

Men at Work

Bacari Alexander has what it takes to be a head coach.
Bacari Alexander has what it takes to be a head coach.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

For the sake of being thorough, here's a roster of the coaches, via MGoBlue: Jeff Meyer (assistant/recruiting coordinator, sixth year); Bacari Alexander (assistant, fourth year); LaVall Jordan (assistant, fourth year); Jon Sanderson (strength and conditioning, fifth year); John Beilein (head coach, eighth year).

Alexander and Jordan are regularly mentioned as head-coach-caliber types; it's only a matter of time before they eventually climb the ranks.

Alexander is 37. Jordan is 35. The Michiganders are excellent recruiters and mentors; they have decades of coaching in their futures. 

Renowned for his recruiting touch, Meyer, 50, also has premium experience on the administrative side, giving his team away from the team a reliable Xs and Os technician.

An Indiana native and former Hoosiers and Purdue assistant, it's safe to assume that he's well-versed in Midwestern culture, both in life (he's a strong family man) and on the court. His level of stability adds curb appeal to a shining program. 

Sanderson's background in weight training/coaching and physical fitness make him a valuable young asset for Beilein. Plus, he was an Ohio prep hoops standout in the late 1990s (Div. II); meaning that he's not very old and should be able to easily relate to today's player. It doesn't hurt that he's from Ohio, either. That's a hotbed for unsungs such as Caris LeVert

Beilein's a proven winner. He won at West Virginia. He won at Richmond. He won at Canisius. He won at LeMoyne.

He's winning at Michigan.

In all honesty, he doesn't get the national attention that he deserves. That's not to say that he's overlooked by the masses, because he's not. But it's time that those outside of the Big Ten truly recognize that he and his cohorts are worth their weight in gold (and then some). 

Back in June, Alexander, Jordan and Meyer agreed to four-year extensions, keeping them secure until the conclusion of the 2017-18 season. During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg, Beilein discussed knowing when to say when. 

As a lifelong head coach, it's sometimes difficult to let others do the work. So, he's a guy who likes to work really hard and complete multiple jobs? Hmm. That works. 

... There are still things other head coaches would never do. I still break down three-quarters of the film for the team. I don't think a lot of coaches do that, but I do it because it helps me become a better coach. I watch plays over and over again, and I can change angles and do things. At the same time, I have no problem with saying, 'OK, Vall, you do the cuts today. I'm ready to move on to the next thing.

 

A Little Individual Recognition

The following are tweets from Michigan AD Dave Brandon and Detroit News writer Rod Beard. For the record, during an interview on my podcast, Beard said that he feels that Beilein is about as good as it gets. 

Adam Zagoria's tweet was added for good measure. There are more, obviously, including tweets about Beilein being named the media's Big Ten Coach of the Year this past season. 

Fair to Mention

Due in part to coaching by Tim Miles' staff, the Huskers are gaining a bit of attention these days.
Due in part to coaching by Tim Miles' staff, the Huskers are gaining a bit of attention these days.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

With associate head coach Dwayne Stephens, an 11-year veteran and former Spartans standout, Tom Izzo has a good thing going at Michigan State. Add in Dane Fife, a three-year assistant who helped the Hoosiers get to the 2002 national title game, and you have a robust mixture of experience and talent that's capable of cultivating Final Four-bound teams with regularity. 

Tim Miles has Nebraska on the ascent. Tom Crean is good for Indiana, and likewise for Thad Matta and Ohio State and Matt Painter and Purdue. The Big Ten is one of the country's elite hoops conferences for a reason: Coaching. Solid coaching. They don't all win at the same time, but the league's coaches are certainly noteworthy and comparable to those around the nation. 

 

Making the Grade

Simply said, these guys know what they're doing. They're good at their jobs.
Simply said, these guys know what they're doing. They're good at their jobs.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Beilein's staff has arguably done a better job than any other B1G foe during the past five years. Beilein's pulling of talent helps, but his ability to handcraft stars is second to none. Of course, his staff deserves major props too. 

Since 2005, the Wolverines are one of four Big Ten teams to reach the NCAA title bout. Since 2010, Michigan has finished in the top four in conference play, with two titles to boot. It's taken a few years, but Beilein has vaulted his program back it to its former perch. 

Continuously getting the most out of each player, regardless of perceived talent, is a trademark of great coaching. Turning those one-time prospects into pros and grads is the sign of a magnificent thing in motion. 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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