A newly minted head coach, LaVall Jordan walked onto the floor at Crisler Center on Wednesday for the Michigan men’s basketball team’s postseason awards ceremony. He made a beeline for John Beilein and gave his former boss a hug.
After six years on Beilein’s staff, Jordan says he finally gets it.
“It comes at you quick, and there’s decisions to make,” Jordan said.
The move “26 inches over,” from the assistant coach to the head coach’s seat, has changed Jordan’s perspective ever since he accepted the head-coaching position at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week. There’s simply a level of accountability at the head-coaching level that’s impossible to envision or prepare for, Jordan said.
So after years of trying to understand the inner workings of Beilein’s mind, Jordan finally got a real glimpse inside. Though he’s spoken with Beilein daily since accepting the Milwaukee job, the hug was still necessary.
Jordan will have a familiar face alongside him as he takes over at the Panthers’ helm. Pending a few dotted Is and crossed Ts, Michigan video coordinator Will Vergollo will become one of Jordan’s first hires.
The loss of Jordan, known as something of a guru for backcourt players, is a big hit to Beilein’s staff, which has remained perfectly intact for the last six seasons.
“In my opinion, he’s one of the best in the business at what he does,” said senior guard Spike Albrecht.
In Jordan’s absence, director of player personnel Chris Hunter will hit the recruiting trail alongside Beilein. In the last week, the rest of Michigan’s staff gave Hunter the go-ahead to actually coach players during workouts, and Beilein said Hunter impressed immediately with an observation about rising sophomore forward Moritz Wagner’s mechanics.
Beilein didn’t rule out considering Hunter for the position, but said he’s in no rush to make a decision.
“Measure twice so you only have to cut once,” Beilein said, saying that even the Pope would have to go through a background-check process were he to apply for the position.
The vacancy could soon gain a twin, as Michigan assistant Bacari Alexander remains among the rumored candidates for the still-unfilled head-coaching position at Detroit. But in the meantime, it’s business as usual.
“He’s going on the road (recruiting) this weekend,” Beilein said.
In terms of players, Beilein still doesn’t expect further attrition after Ricky Doyle and Aubrey Dawkins announced their departures from the program last week, and says he’s checked in with everybody on the roster regarding their status for next year.
“That’s the plan with everybody right now,” Beilein said.
Wagner was among the players whose summer plans were most in flux, but he appears to have solidified them: Beilein said Wagner will spend the early months of summer at home in Germany before returning for July and August to participate in “Camp Sanderson,” strength coach Jon Sanderson’s famed summer workout series.
AWARDS: The Wolverines handed out a number of awards Wednesday, many as gags and many as more serious markers of where the Wolverines stand individually and as a team. The winners are listed below:
Most generous: Sean Lonergan
Best dressed: Spike Albrecht
First player to marry: D.J. Wilson
Most likely to succeed: Austin Hatch
Best dancer: Kam Chatman
Teammate who talks the most but knows the least: Kam Chatman
Academic Achievement: Sean Lonergan
Outstanding Free Throw Shooting: Duncan Robinson
Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award: Sean Lonergan
Iron Man Award: Zak Irvin
Grant Gary Award (most assists): Derrick Walton Jr.
Steve Grote Hustle Award: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
Sixth Man Award: Aubrey Dawkins
Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player: Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
Thad Garner Leadership Award: Zak Irvin
Wayman Britt Outstanding Defensive Player: Derrick Walton Jr.
Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player: Zak Irvin