For John Beilein, this time of year is usually defined by constant trips to obscure high school basketball gyms, watching high school players compete on the AAU circuit. While there has been plenty of that, a wrinkle has been added to this year’s offseason that Beilein is less used to: calls from NBA talent evaluators.
With two former Michigan players projected as first-round draft picks, Beilein and his staff have been fielding calls from the League all summer. And it’s not just the coaches they talk to — it’s support staff as well.
“They don’t just rely on me. They talk to [athletic trainer] Jon DoRosario, they talk to [strength and conditioning coach] John Sanderson, talk to our academic counselors, they’ve obviously talked to me and to the assistants,” Beilein said during a casual meeting with media at the Crisler Center on Thursday. “We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls. Obviously we return them all. What we’ve learned is that they really check out the character of these two young men, and that’s good for them because they really are high-character kids.”
However, Beilein thinks he’s been with his assistants long enough for that not to be a big deal. Not to mention that, per NCAA rules, Beilein would be allowed no more than six hours of practice time with the players during those three weeks.
“We’ve thought about that, and I think the opportunity for me to grow as a coach — I think if I had a new staff it might be difficult, but we’ve been together enough so they know,” Beilein said. “I’m going to miss the first three weeks with them. I will see them Saturday when they all report to campus and we’ll go over a lot of different things. They’re very busy, those first three weeks of summer school, I’m going to miss six hours of working with them. While I like to work hands-on with them early, we’ve been together three years, they’ll do what I do.”
Two Michigan players were invited to play on international teams: Glenn Robinson III was invited to try out for the Team USA U19 squad, and Mitch McGary was invited to try out for the World University Games team Beilein will be coaching. Both opted out in favor of participating in national camps. Robinson will be attending the Kevin Durant Skills Academy and McGary will be at the Big Man Skills Academy run by Amare Stoudemire.
After taking Michigan on its historic run to the NCAA championship game this season, Beilein finds himself playing the role of local celebrity a bit more than usual. On Tuesday, Michigan’s coach threw out the first pitch of the Detroit Tigers’ game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Beilein managed to not embarrass himself, throwing an impressive four-seamer high and outside.
While some may have seen Beilein donning the Tigers blue as traitorous to his favorite team growing up, the St. Louis Cardinals, Beilein brushed off the insinuation.
“I actually heard from a few of the Cardinals fans, but I think they understand,” Beilein said. “It was a thrill. The Tigers are my American League team, without question.”
Beilein got to speak with Al Kaline and also had a conversation with Tigers Manager Jim Leyland. The two had met before while the Tigers were playing the Cardinals and Beilein had betrayed his loyalties.
“He knows I’m a Cardinal fan,” Beilein said. “The last time I came in there, it was against the Cardinals. He was glad I admitted that, it was fine. We’re in different leagues.”
Notes: Beilein is currently in talks with Dave Brandon regarding his contract. Beilein’s current contract runs through the 2016 season, but it has appeared Brandon wants to give the coach a new extension. “We’ve had some great talks. This is a great place to work and (Brandon) is a great leader,” Beilein said. … While he has traditionally been mum when it comes to talk of retirement, Beilein said he has “some numbers in my mind” regarding when he’d like to call it quits. Beilein will turn 61 in February and is entering his 36th as a coach.