Let’s get the obvious part out of the way: Michigan basketball hasn’t been the same since they lost to Kentucky in that Regional Final in 2014. In fact, in the last two-plus seasons their record has been 53-37 overall and 22-23 in the conference - after going 83-27 and 40-14 from 2011-14. That’s not good.
Something else that’s pretty obvious: more and more Michigan fans have started to turn on John Beilein. A blowout win against Indiana last week cooled his chair, but Sunday’s loss to Michigan State brought us right back into an uncomfortable discussion: is it time for Beilein to go? And should Michigan, and Warde Manuel, look around for a big-time hire?
It’s not the easiest question to answer, although a lot of fans have opinions on both sides.
To John Beilein’s credit, he’s been very solid at finding hidden gems on the recruiting trail, and, overall, recruiting has had its share of bright spots. But he’s also missed on some really big opportunities to turn his window of success into a pipeline of consistent talent, and that part hurts a lot - I think a lot of fans feel like the window is now closed where Beilein can reasonably point back to 2011-14 to lure top recruits.
To John Beilein’s credit again, though, this team is very dangerous offensively when everything is working, and when that happens the product is a heck of a lot of fun to watch. But, too often, his run and gun offense gets marred by rebounding or defensive woes, and the biggest critique surrounding this team right now is even more pervasive: they lack mental toughness. Some coaches have made a Hall of Fame career on cultivating mental toughness even when they don’t have the talent, and John Beilein is not one of those guys.
Of course, to John Beilein’s credit, this team is a lot further along than they were when he got here. In fact, he’s 6 wins away from tying the program record of 209 wins by Johnny Orr. But there will be a cloud over John Beilein’s head if and when that happens, because fans are doubting that he can take this team to that next level: consistency.