The finalists for this year’s Naismith National Coach of the Year were announced Wednesday, and Michigan’s John Beilein made the cut.
Michigan’s head coach was one of three Big Ten coaches named a finalist for the award, joining Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Purdue’s Matt Painter.
The other 12 finalists include Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Wofford’s Mike Young, Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski, Nevada’s Eric Musselman, Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Tennessee’s Rick Barnes, Texas Tech’s Chris Beard, Louisville’s Chris Mack, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson and Buffalo’s Nate Oats.
Beilein has never won the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award, but he does have other accolades to his name. Last season, Beilein took home the CBS Sports National Coach of the Year. He also won the Big Ten Coach of the Year and the Bob Frederick Sportsmanship Award in 2014.
Beilein and the Wolverines began the season 18-0, including wins over Purdue, defending National Champion Villanova and ACC juggernaut North Carolina. They now sit at No. 3 in the Big Ten standings after a home loss to MSU over the weekend. The Wolverines (22-4, 13-4) are currently behind MSU (23-5, 14-3) and Purdue (20-7, 13-3).
Given the circumstances, Beilein is more than deserving of a finalist spot for the award. This Michigan team does not have the depth or elite shooting of year’s past, and Beilein has still been able to make it work.
To start the year on an 18-game winning streak and defeat some of the top teams in the country is about as impressive as it is going to get, so to see Beilein as a finalist for this award does not shock me at all.
The Wolverines will look to get back to their winning ways on Thursday at home as they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers (7 p.m., ESPN).