Beilein a safe, not slam-dunk choice
A few quick thoughts on what appears to be the pending hire of John Beilein as Michigan basketball coach.
First, the man can coach, and after watching Michigan lose too many games it should have won in recent years and with all the great coaches in the conference his sideline presence will be a welcome addition to Crisler Arena. That said, I don't think the hire is a slam dunk on the level of a Tubby Smith, John Calipari or Jay Wright. Those coaches had the potential to make the Wolverines national contenders again. Beilein can and should be successful in the Big Ten, but this smacks of a safe, solid move rather than the bold hire the program needs to attain greatness.
Rumors already are flying that Beilein will run into resistance recruiting the PSL. I'm sure he'll get his share of Detroit kids, but it wouldn't surprise me if the city's top talent continued its exodus towards more glamourous programs like Oregon, Memphis and Tennessee. (How bad is it when those places are more glamourous than Michigan?)
Beilein runs a gimmicky 1-3-1 zone and high-post offense that relies heavily on the 3-point shot (the bigger the shooter, the better). Not everyone fits into his system, including most of the talent currently on Michigan's roster. If I'm a Michigan fan, I can live with the growing pains that look to be around the corner (especially if Alex Legion tries to back out of his letter of intent as expected) so long as I see a successful reconstruction project ahead. That'll be the key thing I'm listening for if/when Beilein is officially introduced. In addition to paying his $2.5-million buyout, did athletic director Bill Martin guarantee Beilein a new practice facility, arena or some other upgrade to the infrastructure of the program? If not, this whole exercise was fruitless.
As for the championship game tonight, I've been on the Florida bandwagon since the start of the year and I'm not getting off now. Greg Oden's been in foul trouble half the tournament and it's hard not to imagine him on the bench tonight going against Al Horford and Joakim Noah. Mike Conley is the best guard on the floor, but Florida is the best team. Let's call it, Gators 74, Buckeyes 67.