Major changes next year for Michigan
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA – To understand the greatest irony of this Michigan renaissance, this run to tonight’s national championship game, rewind back to the hiring of John Beilein in 2007.
Nobody ever questioned whether Beilein could coach; he had proven it during 30 years climbing the ladder from junior college to Division II up through the ranks of big-time basketball. But could he recruit? Could a man who had spent three decades developing leftovers and winning with them attract the kind of NBA-bound athletes it would take to win at the highest level in modern-day basketball’s microwave environment?
“I always thought when I was coaching at the lower levels,” Beilein said Sunday, “if I could ever get to the point where I could recruit these five guys that we would do a lot of the same things, but we’d just do them better.”
That part undoubtedly came true for Beilein, who has added a slew of new banners to Crisler Arena in the last two seasons. But much to the surprise of those who considered Beilein a milquetoast hire in 2007, he has arrived at the brink of a national championship with a roster more in the mold of Kentucky last season or Ohio State in 2007, reliant on a slew of young players who very well may not be back at Michigan next season.
For all the talk about Beilein’s path and his coaching genius at this Final Four, no other coach came to Atlanta loaded with more future pros.
“This is going to be the last time this team plays together,” freshman forward Mitch McGary said. “There’s five seniors on this team and multiple pro prospects, but you never know. We made one good, last run at it with this team.”
According to Ken Pomeroy’s statistical database, Michigan was the sixth least-experienced team in the country this season and the youngest in the NCAA tournament by a fairly wide margin. And yet, despite a playing rotation without a single senior, a sense of finality hangs over this championship game for the Wolverines.
Though Beilein expressly did not want Ann Arbor to be a factory … [For more on Young Michigan team will see major changes next year, click here.]