- Adam Glanzman/Daily
By Neal Rothschild, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 4, 2013
The year 2013 has treated John Beilein well.
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He’s working his dream job. He made the national championship last season. He has a Big Ten ring. He’s continuing to reel in the country’s premier recruits to support the two potential NBA first-round picks that elected to stay at Michigan. He spent part of his summer in Russia coaching the US University Games team. He went to New York to see his former star point guard become an NBA lottery pick. And to top it off, University alum Stephen M. Ross has just endowed the Athletic Department with $100 million.
And after all of that, the best part of his job?
“Favorite part of the job is going to the individual workouts early in the year and seeing the progress people have made,” Beilein said.
Sounds like an upset selection, but considering how much Beilein relishes the minutiae — the process involved in his job rather than the results — it makes some sense.
The least favorite part of his job?
“There’s very few things that I dislike about, you know, living your dream right now. How can you not just love every bit of this?”
Yeah, that sounds more like it.
Coming off the summer following the most successful season of his career, Beilein has much to be happy about. He strolled into the Crisler Center media room Wednesday afternoon, still seemingly in summer mode, with a pearly white polo, a heavy tan and an ear-to-ear grin.
And lucky for him, it just so happens to be the time of the year for his stated favorite part of his job. With the players coming back for the school year, he’s busy conducting individual workouts — with no more than four players allowed per session two hours a week — before official team practices start up Sept. 15.
The individual sessions, Beilein said, would be used to emphasize individual defense before team defense becomes the focus when full-team practices begin. Aside from that, the offseason has been about assessing the freshmen, developing the sophomores and fine-tuning the two other players on the roster — fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan and redshirt junior Jon Horford.
“It continues to amaze me. We have Jon and Jordan and then we have the sophomores,” Beilein said of the returning players. “I look at them and the one thing that differentiates these sophomores is they’re prep-school guys. Spike (Albrecht) has already turned 21 years old. He’s the only 21-year old alter boy still out there. Mitch McGary is 21 years old, so they’re a little bit older and I feel that from them, that they have maturity about them that we trust.”
As for when the new Wolverines’ place in the rotation might become more clear to Beilein, that might take a few weeks.
“We had that opportunity this summer to just look a little bit at (the freshmen). We call (those looks) the blinks, ‘what if’ this and that. But I think in time it will tell. But having those young men out there, I think we have some real versatility again. I think there’s some great possibilities out there given the makeup of this team in regards to how we play and who plays.”
There was some light shed on certain players’ development. McGary looks to be “in really good shape.” Indications are that freshman point guard Derrick Walton can pick concepts up quickly. Sophomore guards Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert both look stronger, though LeVert had some minor injuries over the summer.
But there are no glaring causes for concern for Beilein at the moment. In fact, he’s doing pretty well for himself.
“Thirty-eighth year of doing what I have dreamed of doing my whole life — teach and coach. Thirty-eight straight. … I do love, love this environment that the Beilein family is in right now.”