Three straight wins can change a lot of people’s perceptions – at least that’s what the Michigan men’s basketball team hopes. After heading toward one of the worst records in program history, the Wolverines have turned their season around in the last two weeks.
It even prompted Ohio State coach Thad Matta to call Michigan “the best seven-win team (he’d) ever seen” after the Wolverines upset his Buckeyes Sunday.
Despite the recent streak, the Wolverines have an 8-17 record and sit in the bottom half of the Big Ten, meaning John Beilein’s rebuilding project still has a long way to go.
Before the Wolverines’ come-from-behind win over Iowa last Thursday, The Michigan Daily spoke with ESPN analyst and former Oklahoma State guard (1997-2000) Doug Gottlieb about the Michigan’s progress under Beilein.
Michigan’s biggest area of need:
“It isn’t the Xs and Os. It’s the Jimmys and the Joes. (They) definitely don’t have players. I think they have guys that, frankly, aren’t great fits for the system. The players aren’t good enough. It’s not that one individual player isn’t good enough, but you have two or three Big Ten-caliber players. That’s not enough.”
What Beilein can do to bring in better players:
“The only question will be whether he can bring in equal talent, more than he brought in his first year at West Virginia. Recruiting has changed in that guys are committing much earlier now than they did five years ago. Now guys are committing after their junior year, in the summer, and not even waiting until the early signing day. (Michigan) was operating under the premise that it didn’t have a lot of scholarships available. Then some opened up (with Kendric Price, K’Len Morris and Jerret Smith off the team), but now there’s very few players left worth getting.”
What he thinks of the Beilein hire so far:
“It’s refreshing to hire a guy everyone appreciates since he’s been able to do it with . his style guys, which are not top-50 guys, McDonald’s All-American guys. Is it a good hire? Yeah, the guy’s a good basketball coach if he can get kids that can play his system. Can he win a national championship and can he do it competing in the Big Ten, which is a league that I think is really down this year but is going to get a lot better? That’s a good question because the league is as bad as it’s going to be.”
Whether Michigan basketball has lost its reputation:
“I think so to a certain extent, because I was in high school when the Fab Five was playing. There was nothing cooler than the gold shorts with the ‘M’ emblem on them. Who didn’t have those?”
What Michigan needs to do with Crisler Arena:
“The school hasn’t done itself justice by not updating the facility. I’m not somebody who’s going to tell you that you have to have a brand new facility, because you don’t. Sometimes, you build those NBA arenas and you lose (something).
But they need to fix Crisler. Unless they’re OK with, ‘Let’s just be the academic school that’s good but not great.’ . Fine, you can do that, but you have to hold your coach to that standard, too. If you’re going to hold your coaches and your program to a high standard, you have to invest, like they are with the $250 million into the football stadium. You need to put $50 to $100 (million) into the arena. If you do that, now you are really committing. Until then, you’re kidding yourself.”