Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein could lose as many as three players from his 2015-16 roster to transfers, and he’s facing the prospect of further attrition — not just among his players, but among his three assistant coaches.
Beilein acknowledged Wednesday that at least one of his assistants has received interest from other schools for their head coaching positions. The trio of Bacari Alexander, LaVall Jordan and Jeff Meyer has been with Beilein for the past six seasons.
Alexander, a Detroit native, is among the rumored candidates for the head coaching vacancy at Detroit. He played for the Titans during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons after transferring from Robert Morris.
Alexander was in the mix for the job at Wisconsin-Green Bay last offseason; Meyer was reported at that time to be among those receiving interest from Liberty, where he served as head coach for 16 seasons and remains the winningest coach in school history; and Jordan was reported as a finalist for the job at Butler before the 2013-14 campaign.
None of the opportunities have panned out — yet.
“There is some interest from some other universities, and I’m thrilled about it,” Beilein said. “I think that this is long overdue. They are really ready to be (head) coaches. The fact that we’ve been together for six years — that doesn’t happen very often.”
Beilein declined to confirm that Alexander interviewed with Detroit and didn’t say which other coaches have received interest, if any. There’s no short list of candidates to fill the potential vacancy, but Beilein said he doesn’t anticipate any issue filling the position should the need arise.
“I don’t want to lose any of them,” Beilein said. “But if they have the opportunity, I think it’s great.”
BEILEIN TALKS RECRUITING CLASS: Barring the unforeseen, Derrick Walton Jr. is a lock to play the majority of minutes next season at point guard. But who backs him up remains in question, and hinges on whether senior Spike Albrecht returns for his fifth year of eligibility and whether incoming recruit Xavier Simpson proves ready for the rigors of the Big Ten.
“He plays the game the right way,” Beilein said of Simpson. “He’s an elite passer. … We’re counting on Xavier to come in and be one of those guys, because of his talent and the need for him to play right away. We hope he’s going to be ready to do that.”
Beilein also spoke briefly to the perception that his two incoming big men, 7-foot Jon Teske and 6-foot-10 Austin Davis, are longer-term projects who might not be ready to contribute during their freshman seasons.
“I would respond: Just watch and see what happens,” Beilein said.
Michigan is relatively set at the ‘5’ spot anyway, with rising junior forward Mark Donnal looking to keep his spot in the starting five and rising sophomore Moritz Wagner poised to make substantial jumps after an inconsistent but hugely promising freshman year.
CAMP SANDERSON NOT BEHIND HEALTH ISSUES: As injuries have piled up over the past several seasons, Beilein has at times discussed the prospect of reevaluating the Wolverines’ training routines and overall workloads in order to ensure fatigue and stress don’t contribute to missed time.
Even with senior Caris LeVert suffering his third lower leg injury in three seasons, Walton missing time for the second straight year, Albrecht missing the majority of the season with dual hip injuries and a smattering of other health issues plaguing the program, Beilein says strength coach Jon Sanderson’s famed “Camp Sanderson” summer workout programs don’t hurt — if anything, they help.
“They were all isolated injuries, and none of them were in the exact same area,” Beilein said. “It could just be coincidence that it’s all happened during this time.”
Moving forward, there are some preventative measures the team could take to gain a better understanding of who might be overworking themselves during practice.
“We’re looking into using workload-type of chips in our uniforms, in our shoes, to see what we can do,” Beilein said. “The times that we experimented with them this year, Derrick Walton was working at a completely different level than some of our other guys were. You don’t notice that — they’re all practicing, but one guy’s going a little harder than everybody.”
Beilein did leave things on an optimistic note for LeVert, who had surgery in New York two weeks ago and is projected as a likely second-round pick in the NBA Draft on June 23. Once LeVert recovers from his most recent surgery, Beilein said he expects him to be entirely done with the current, injury-riddled chapter of his career.
SCHEDULING TWEAKS: Michigan has opened its last two seasons with games against Division II schools: Northern Michigan in 2015-16 and Hillsdale College the year before. The NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is thought to ignore games against Division II opposition. The Ratings Percentage Index — among the committee’s most-used tools — disregards those games entirely.
“I’m rethinking the idea of playing a Division II team,” Beilein said. “That may be something we want to examine in the future. … I always like to keep the money here and do what we could within the state.”