Michigan's exhibition opener a battle between Beileins
John Beilein doesn’t typically invite opposing coaches over to his house after games, but Friday will prove an exception.
After all, the Michigan men’s basketball coach is going up against the school that employed him for nine years. Odder still, the man now running the show at Division II Le Moyne College is Beilein’s son, Patrick.
“I’m going to study my feelings during the whole thing,” the elder Beilein said Thursday. “It’s going to be interesting.”
Though Friday’s exhibition is more an opportunity for the Wolverines’ reserves to see the court than it is a true measuring stick, both of the Beileins on the floor and the dozens more in the stands are taking the basketball element seriously.
A record number of family members will be in attendance at Crisler Center, and Beilein expects the majority to be rooting for the Dolphins. After all, Patrick is one of 44 of Beilein’s parents’ grandchildren, and Beilein estimated that 12 to 15 of his nieces and nephews — Patrick’s cousins — will be in attendance.
“Once the ball goes up — Patrick would probably feel the same way — his mother could be on the other bench, and we’re competing,” Beilein said.
The exhibition is an early chance for the Wolverines to get the entirety of their roster involved, especially with several players already ruled out. Aside from injury concerns, juniors Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich are both considering redshirting this season and will not play, Beilein said.
But freshman forward Moritz Wagner could see substantial playing time, and players who appear to be on the fringes of Michigan’s rotation, like sophomore guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and redshirt sophomore forward Mark Donnal, will have the opportunity to make an early-season, in-game impression.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, will play their second consecutive game against an opponent that, at least on paper, outclasses them thoroughly. Le Moyne didn’t have to leave the city limits of Syracuse on Nov. 2, falling to the Orange at the Carrier Dome, 97-58.
Of course, Beilein said, being blown out at Syracuse isn’t a problem specific to Le Moyne’s Division II status.
“Syracuse can do that to a lot of Division I teams in November,” Beilein said. “Actually, they do it all year long.”
LESS THAN FULL STEAM: Junior foward Zak Irvin will not play Friday as he continues to recover from an offseason back procedure, Beilein said. Senior guard Spike Albrecht will play, though he’s still limited as he rehabs from a summer hip surgery.
Though the Wolverines are by and large healthy, Beilein said minor injuries have taken a toll on the rhythm and flow of practice.
At Monday’s practice, which was open to the public, sophomore guard Aubrey Dawkins landed awkwardly on his right ankle after a dunk. He returned to practice minutes later, but eventually headed to the locker room early. Nonetheless, he’s expected to play Friday.
Beilein also acknowledged, cryptically, that the ailments of Irvin, Dawkins and Albrecht don’t span the list of Michigan’s preseason health issues. The bumps and bruises make it more difficult to establish a rhythm in practice, Beilein said.
CONTRACT COLLABORATIONS: Beilein’s recently announced contract extension, which will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2020-21 season, is as much for recruits’ benefit as it is the Wolverines’.
Beilein is currently recruiting athletes set to graduate in 2017 or 2018, and they had reasonable questions for a man asking them to make a four-year commitment.
“It’s a common question for ’17s and ’18s,” Beilein said. “Your contract is up in ’19, but I’m going to graduate (high school) in ’17 — who’s going to be coaching?”
Once Beilein mentioned his concerns to interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett, he said the process moved quickly, and that there was obvious mutual interest both from the Athletic Department and University President Mark Schlissel in securing the deal.