John Beilein sat down at his National Championship press conference yesterday loose.
He knows how big the stage has become for himself and the Michigan program. But he also knows how they wound up in San Antonio playing for all the marbles tonight.
“It’s not the best team. It’s a time that funny bounces of the ball will determine the champion. And that’s why we love it. We just absolutely love it. And things could turn a game just like that. And so we’ve had those breaks,” Beilein told reporters.
Madness. In March. What a great tournament it has been. A 16-seed beat a 1 seed, Loyola had an incredible run, the unpredictable becomes the norm this time of year.
Michigan has been the beneficiary of some breaks to this point in March, the ball has bounced their way more often than not. The Wolverines keep winning.
Beilein recognizes a certain amount of luck is necessary to get this far in the tournament.
With a win over Villanova, it will be Beilein’s 800th win of his career, which wouldn’t be a bad way to reach the milestone. But if Michigan doesn’t win tonight, if he never wins a National Championship, he won’t reflect on his career any differently.
“I honestly say I wouldn’t look at it any differently. I really would not. Others may,” Beilein said. “And it’s just like you hang in there and you just do your absolute best every single day. And some day you’re going to say, I gave it everything I had, and if I’m falling into my grave, that’s okay too. But you just do everything you can to be the best coach, the best mentor, the best teacher, the best husband, the grandfather, father every day, and you go do it again. And that’s all I want to be.”
For Beilein, effort matters more than results. More often than not his efforts have correlated with on court success, but what matters to him is how he goes about his life, how he treats others, how he prepares for the next task, which now happens to be Villanova.
John Beilein is different. Humility can be deemed a weakness, but in a world where ego is king, Beilein’s humility is rare and refreshing.
Even when it comes to his looks, Beilein threw praise ‘Nova head coach Jay Wright’s way, which received laughter from the crowd.
“At the end of the game tomorrow, he’ll (Wright) still look like George Clooney and I will look like Columbo by Peter Falk at the end of that thing. So there’s your comparison. I’d like to say Kevin Costner, but I can’t go there.”
He sounds pretty relaxed considering he compared Villanova to NBA Champions at the same press conference. “This is Golden State Warriors here,” Beilein said. “This is Draymond Green type of thing where your guys can shoot it, they can pass it, they can do everything.”
To beat teams like the Warriors, ‘Nova, stopping their three point onslaught is a must.
“Yeah, it’s important with some teams that you play. There’s certain teams you want to take those things away from them. They may meet you. If you just look at the analytics of it, the 3-point, it’s like baseball. People don’t sacrifice bunt anymore, which still bothers me when we don’t sacrifice bunt. But the analytics say don’t do it; go for the three-run homer or the two-run homer. And this is sort of the idea that some teams, that’s what they do. And you’ve got to — every coach, every sport you’re trying to take away what other people do. And we have sort of a plan for that that I won’t share,” Beilein said.
We’ll see the game-plan Beilein has soon enough. If part of his game-plan was being calm and collected at his press conference, he passed the objective with flying colors.