When John Beilein was hired as the University of Michigan head basketball coach in April 2007, he arrived at a program that was struggling. He inherited a team that had been sanctioned heavily due to their past actions.
The Ed Martin scandal (Martin was a booster who provided extra money to players) severely handcuffed the basketball program, and it has taken years to rebuild it.
The stiff NCAA sanctions not only diminished the reputation of the program, but also made it impossible to recruit top players.
Since taking over, Coach Beilein has recruited some terrific athletes. He scouts players who not only have a solid skill set, but who also fit well into his system.
Here are four reasons Beilein has been successful at recruiting and who has committed to Michigan for the 2012-13 season thus far.
Coach Beilein’s offensive system is attractive for many high school players. His offense revolves around shooting three-pointers and shooting them often. He teaches shot techniques in every practice and works tirelessly with players to perfect their jump shots.
Beilein will never get angry with a player for taking a three-pointer (unless it is noticeably forced) and encourages his team to shoot on each possession.
If you watch Michigan’s off-the-ball movement, you will notice an extraordinary amount of screens. This tactic is used often to spring a jump shooter free. Therefore, Beilein must have athletic players who can slip off screens and who can catch and release quickly.
It is an offensive system that many high school players are accustomed to, thus making the transition a bit easier. His play set is complicated, but when followed correctly, has proven to be successful.
Potential players understand this and believe in his system.
Coach Beilein’s defensive system is a little bit different than the average team's. He usually deploys a typical man-to-man defense and the occasional press when needed.
However, his signature scheme is his one-three-one zone.
Beilein will switch to this zone at any point in the game, and it has proven to cause problems for teams that are caught off guard. The one-three-one zone is a fast-paced defense that requires each player to hustle and trap opposing players accordingly.
When used effectively, it is a great way to cause turnovers.
In order to use this zone, Beilein must have players who understand the intricacies of it and who can also physically handle the scheme. Consequently, the players he recruits are “hustle” players who invariably help the team in many other aspects.
This ability to adapt to different defenses at any point in the game shows versatility, a characteristic almost any NBA prospect has.
Again, his defensive schemes are more complicated, but players who are willing to put the time in will be rewarded. Big Ten basketball means big time defense.
Trust in the system leads to success, and ultimately, that is what every prospective college basketball wants.
In order for Coach Beilein’s offense to be as effective as possible, he needs a point guard who can distribute the rock to the shooters. So far, Beilein has proven he can attract these types of players—Darius Morris and now Trey Burke.
Morris struggled with his outside jumper at Michigan but made up for it with his great natural passing ability. He was able to drive, break down the defense and kick the ball out to an open shooter or finish at the rim.
Burke has these same types of skills but looks to be a much better outside shooter through his first 10 games.
Beilein's system is highly attractive for top point guards, who have free reign to shoot the basketball and will be surrounded by solid outside shooters.
Beilein has done an excellent job recruiting point guards thus far, and you can expect that trend to continue.
Coach Beilein is praised (and rightfully so) for his composed demeanor on the court at all times. If his players make a bad play, he never invokes his inner Brian Kelly (see Notre Dame football).
He is always under control.
After a mistake, Beilein will put his arm around a player and support rather him rather than put him down. You will never see Beilein become irate with anyone on the team—that is simply not his style.
During the next Michigan basketball game you watch, keep an eye on Beilein and how he interacts with his bench. He is constantly talking with his players about what is working and what is not working.
Beilein’s players respect and admire this attitude. Because of it, he has become one of the most well regarded coaches in the country.
No. 2 (Scout Grade: 97) ESPN Top 150 Mitch McGary. McGary, a 5-star recruit, is the best power forward in the nation, and at 6’ 10”, is a force in the paint. His rebounding and defensive skills are excellent and should make him a major factor in the starting lineup as a freshman.
No. 52 (Scout Grade: 94) ESPN Top 150 Glenn Robinson III. Robinson III, a 4-star recruit, is the son of Glenn “the Big Dog” Robinson. This kid is naturally athletic (36-inch vertical), can finish strong at the basket and can shoot from anywhere on the court. He is a 6’6” shooting guard that shows a ton of promise.
No. 83 (Scout Grade: 93) ESPN Top 150 Nik Stauskas. Stauskus is a lanky 6’6” small forward who is a fantastic jump shooter. He has been working on his strength and his pull-up jumper off of the dribble. He will be a great addition to this team.
With already three players committed from the ESPN Top 100 (and the No. 2 overall player), Beilein has truly become a recruiting guru. Michigan basketball fans will have a lot to be excited about as long as Beilein is at the helm.