John Beilein is Michigan's new head basketball coach. Woo!
Alright. Now that the wild partying is done, the riot police are back in their cars, and the flaming couches have been cleared away, it's time to take a look a three challenges facing Michigan's new coach:
1. This Year's Current Recruiting Class: The Amaker firing and Recruiting guru/Associate Coach Mike Jackson's defection to Illinois State have played havoc with Michigan's (possibly) top 25 recruiting class. The loudest complaints have emanated from East Grand Rapids PG Kelvin Grady. Grady originally took Michigan's scholarship offer over Michigan State's and Notre Dame's (not exactly chopped liver offers) largely on the basis of his relationship with former coach Amaker. Grady's father was reportedly the guy who told the Detroit News and the Morgantown Dominion Post that "Beilein is the guy."
Grady's father, Kelvin Grady, Sr., told the Detroit News: "Kelvin is concerned right now about who is coming and who is going," Grady Sr., told the paper Monday night.
Earlier Monday, Grady Jr. told the newspaper that he planned to talk to both Legion and Harris to see what their future plans might be. Grady Jr., a point guard, was recruited by Michigan State and Notre Dame.
"I have to wait and see (what my future holds) after I talk to (Beilein)," Grady Jr. was quoted in the Detroit News.
Um. Okay. John, you might want to view some tape and give the kid a call. Grady is a pretty good player with a strong recruiting call list. Grady also fielded offers from Xavier, Illinois and Purdue. The kid can obviously play. He's got good range and the ability to cut to the basket. Two things that play very well into Beilein's system. I'm hopeful that his trepidation is more the result of the uncertainty with any new coach. Once he gets the chance to review Beilein's offense I'll think he'll be pleasantly surprised at the things he'll be able to do. Until then, I think he's going to make everyone a little antsy.
Alex Legion and Manny Harris have both been relatively quiet on their futures and the coaching search. Legion was in Chicago for the Roundball classic and said little to the Ann Arbor News:
"I'll have to talk with the coach and decide what's best for me and for my future.''
Whether Beilein is familiar with the circumstances that brought Legion to Michigan, but it would do him some good to get up to speed. One thing that will make instant sense to Legion is Beilein's Sweet 16 and Elite 8 runs. The phrase "If I can get that out of them, imagine what I can get out of you in this system" should be uttered often. Like Grady, Amaker was the reason Legion came to Ann Arbor. Be that as it may, the opportunity to start something special at a school like Michigan, where is his whole family can watch it, may be too good an opportunity to pass up.
Of the group, Manny Harris appears to be the most likely to stay. His style of play blends perfectly in Beilein's system and he seemingly always wanted to be a Wolverine. However, it would do Beilein some good to get on the horn and introduce himself.
Grady, Sr.'s conversations with the press have certainly stirred the pot a tad over the last week. My hope is that is because he's not familiar with Beilein or his successes yet. As an outside observer, it took me some convincing too. However, all three stated they came to Michigan because of the sincerity and integrity Amaker demonstrated to them. If that is the number 1 quality these young men are looking for, I have no doubt they will see this in Beilein and honor their commitments.
That being said, we're probably going to lose at least one commit over the coaching change. The only person who has any power to change that is Beilein, and he's starting late on this because of the process. At this point, based solely on noise, my guess is Legion and Harris stay with Grady going to Notre Dame.
I hope all three decide to stay. I think they'd have a hell of a run.
2. Hi Guys. I'm your new coach: Initially I was a little worried about the players reaction to whomever the new coach would be. It's only natural. They came to play for a particular coach and that coach is no longer there. the last week however has assuaged any of those fears and reinforced my belief that while Amaker wasn't the best coach, he certainly recruited high quality kids.
The reaction from Michigan's players was for the most part muted. The general reaction from the players widely perceived to be the program's future (Sims and Udoh) was more relief than anything else. Udoh responded to questions about the new coach by saying:
Best reaction ever. Seriously. I love this guy. Can we just retire his number now?
On the other side of the coin was the enthusiatic response of Reed "Thank God It's Not Dusty" Baker. (this kid needs a nickname, please help me.) Beilein's three pointer happy, back picking, double screen laying offense is custom made for a sniper like Baker. And let's be honest, Baker's not doing anything to hide his excitement:
Using my Bake-o-lator, this translates directly into "Holy shit! Are you kidding me? The only way this could've worked out better for me was if I woke up on a bed made of gold bullion, covered in supermodels and had enough Viagra to keep me awake for six days." (Reed's from Florida -Ed.)
In the span of a week his playing time just doubled.
3. The Extra Scholarship: This is kind of a conundrum. The best players in the country are generally spoken for by this point. However, there do appear to a few high level prospects still available to Michigan that are worth looking into.
Patrick Patterson, a 6-8 forward from Huntington, WV (Rivals #15) is still on the board. With Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Wake, Virginia, and West Virginia all on the board, you've gotta think Michigan has a chance all of a sudden. Duke just got bounced in the first round of the NCAAs (yes, they're still Duke, but they ain't got that shine anymore). Florida will be without a coach soon. Kentucky was widely presumed to be a lock for his services, and then the floor fell out from under Tubby Smith. Though Kentucky doesn't have a coach (though it'll likely be Donovan), and Patternson was reportedly very close with Smith and that will seriously hurt his chances of picking the Cats. Wake and Virginia, kinda blah. It's a long shot, but I think Michigan, if Legion/Harris stay, has a shot.
Anthony McClain, a 6-11 center from Washington DC (Rivals 51, Scout 41)) is still on the board too. Florida, Tennessee, Cinci (?), and Connecticut are all on his wish list. Seems like he'd be worth a phone call.
Jai Lucas, a 5-10 point guard from Bellaire, TX (Rivals 42, Scout 46) has NBA bloodlines and family ties to Maryland. Still, he never accepted their offer and is sitting on offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kentucky, and Maryland. Oddly, Iowa appeared in the mix for a while too. Like Patterson, Lucas was a presumed lock at Kentucky, but Smith's departure screwed that up. In the event Grady decides to re-open, wouldn't it make sense to make a phone call to inquire about his signing day decision?