UM’s John Beilein expects staff to remain intact, for now

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
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Ann Arbor — The annual coaching carousel has swept up Michigan coach John Beilein’s staff the past couple of seasons.

This time around, Beilein is hopeful he won’t have to add an assistant coaching search on his offseason to-do list for a third straight year.

“You never know on that one. That’s one that you never know what could break along the line,” Beilein said Wednesday before the team’s awards banquet. “But I don’t expect any movement there.”

Each of the past two summers, Beilein has had to juggle filling two vacancies on his coaching staff all while recruiting and piecing together Michigan’s schedule.

Two offseasons ago, former assistants Bacari Alexander and LaVall Jordan both departed for head coaching jobs in the Horizon League at Detroit Mercy and Milwaukee, respectively. Alexander was fired after two seasons, while Jordan left Milwaukee after one season to take over at Butler.

Then last offseason, former assistants Jeff Meyer and Billy Donlon took similar positions at other programs. Meyer joined Jordan’s staff at Butler, while Donlon, a Northbrook, Ill., native, returned close to home at Northwestern.

Beilein said he expects his current staff to remain intact, but knows it won’t be long before assistants Luke Yaklich, DeAndre Haynes and Saddi Washington all start garnering their fair share of job offers elsewhere.

Yaklich transformed Michigan into one of the best defensive teams in the nation, while Haynes played a vital role in sophomore guard Zavier Simpson’s growth, and Washington has helped develop big men Moritz Wagner and Jon Teske.

“I got three guys that certainly could be head coaches,” Beilein said. “I don’t anticipate (losses), though, but I don’t think we’ll have them for very long. It could be — whether it’s two, three, four years, they could certainly walk into a lot of head-coaching seats.”

As far as the roster, Beilein said there could be more attrition beyond walk-on forward Brent Hibbitts, who announced earlier this week he’ll pursue a grad transfer, and redshirt sophomore wing Charles Matthews and Wagner, who are both considering leaving early for the NBA.

If Wagner and Matthews both returned, though, that would put Michigan over the 13-man scholarship limit for 2018-19 by one and could lead to another player seeking a transfer.

“We’re meeting with all our guys. We’re gaining information for them and trying to put together what we think their plans are,” Beilein said. “It’s just been a whirlwind since the season (ended). …(Attrition) could happen. It might not. We hope it never happens, but I’m not naive enough to think it couldn’t happen.”

Looking back

Beilein said he has briefly watched film from Michigan’s national title game loss against Villanova.

“I watched two plays that I thought were pivotal and that was it,” he said. “I shut it down after I saw one thing.”

Beilein declined to disclose what the two plays were and added he was “still mad” when he watched tape from the 2013 national championship game loss to Louisville prior to the 2013-14 season.

But considering how dominant Villanova was throughout the season and in the NCAA Tournament, it’s hard to stew after falling short to one of the top teams in the nation.

“They were just so good. I mean, they beat everybody,” Beilein said. “You go to Xavier and win by 20? They were as a good a team that could win a lot of Final Fours. They’re as good a team that played in the Final Four since back in the day when everybody played three of four years and you had a whole NBA team in the starting five.”

Slam dunks

Seniors Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson said they are in the process of hiring agents and are hopeful they’ll be invited to workouts for NBA teams.

Abdur-Rahkman said he’s been reaching out to former teammates who are playing professionally for advice so he won’t be surprised by anything, and Robinson said he’s open to the possibility of playing overseas.

While neither was invited to play in the Portsmouth Invitational, a four-day showcase tournament in front of NBA scouts, they both were among a list of possible alternates for the event.

… Abdur-Rahkman was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, albeit not in the fashion one would prefer.

For the magazine’s April 9 edition, Abdur-Rahkman is pictured contesting a shot by Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, who torched Michigan for a career-high 31 points in the national championship game.

“On Instagram, I made a story and said I never thought I’d make the cover like this,” he said. “I guess any publicity is good publicity.”

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