Michigan coach John Beilein has spent his career adapting to the changes and trends of college basketball.
And Beilein can already sense what’s coming next: More isolation basketball.
As a result, Beilein has made it clear one of his team’s priorities this offseason will be improving in iso situations on offense.
“One of the things they have to do is — we only get four hours a week with them going forward — they've got to play good, old fashioned one-on-one, three-on-three and they have to learn how to score and get their own leverage,” Beilein said on WTKA’s “The Michigan Insider” on Friday. “We have to work on it more now. It's the way the game is going.”
Of course, that’s not the only area the offense needs to work on. Beilein noted junior guard Zavier Simpson needs to develop a mid-range game that will allow him to be more effective and the team needs to get guys like junior center Jon Teske and sophomore forward Isaiah Livers more comfortable posting up.
The Wolverines also lacked a true go-to scorer to turn to when droughts dragged on and simply struggled to score at times. While Michigan averaged 1.146 points per possession — a mark that’s slightly below the 1.147 it averaged last season — it shot 34.2 percent from 3-point range and posted an effective field goal percentage of 51.6 percent, marks that rank the second- and third-lowest among Beilein’s teams since 2010.
Still, Beilein said the recurring theme in most of Michigan’s losses — most notably the three to Michigan State and the Sweet 16 loss to Texas Tech — was his team resorting to bad habits in one-on-one situations when opponents switched every screen and forced the Wolverines to beat them when the shot clock was running down.
“That's the thing we've got to work at and it'll help us offensively, but it still would help us defensively as well,” Beilein said. “We've just got to play more of it and we've got to work more at it. But it's not Step-back University. It's how do we take the ball to basket, how do we pivot — it's the whole thing because some of our guys have just that one move (step-back jumper). With two seconds to go, it's probably the only shot you can get but there are other ways, like get to the foul line. We all had it and we have to get better at it.”
Beilein said he felt his team’s awareness in recognizing mismatches off switches “grew tremendously,” citing the Wolverines’ success at driving against Villanova, and getting the ball inside against Montana and Florida in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
But Beilein added the matchups against Michigan State and Texas Tech were “not good” for Michigan, particularly because of big men Xavier Tillman’s and Tariq Owens’ athleticism and ability to stay in front of anyone.
“I'm sure every coach across the country sees this trend of not only was Texas Tech going to switch every screen, not just ball screens, and so was Gonzaga,” Beilein said. “You're going to see it. Michigan State has never done that and that's what they did three times to us. They saw that we had to get more guys who could score in isolation, so it's exactly what we'll work at."
Beilein was on hand when his son, Patrick, was formally introduced as the new head coach at Niagara on Tuesday.
Niagara, which is located near Buffalo, N.Y., plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the same conference Beilein landed his first Division I coaching job with Canisius in 1992.
Beilein said while growing up in Burt, N.Y., he was a fan of Niagara basketball because of Calvin Murphy and his family “shunned” Canisius after his uncle was fired. However, he had to shift his disdain when he landed the Canisius job.
“Now we love the Purple Eagles of Niagara again,” Beilein said. “It's a great job and it's a great piece of (Patrick's) future. He may coach there for 40 more years or it may be a stepping stone. It doesn't really make a difference. He's going to get it right and we're proud of him."
Patrick Beilein was hired after going 77-41 in four seasons at Division II Le Moyne College, where John Beilein coached from 1983-92.
Beilein said he thinks the NCAA’s transfer portal is a “good addition” for both student-athletes and coaches.
Under the new rules that went into effect in October, student-athletes no longer need to seek permission from a school and/or coach to transfer. Once a request is made, the school has two business days to enter the student’s name into a national transfer database where the individual is allowed to be contacted by other coaches.
“It used to be complicated trying to get permission or a kid coming to us,” Beilein said. “I think it's great that kids can go out and get in there and coaches have it. That and guys testing the (NBA) waters and transferring, they're making it easier for them, yes, but I didn't see it stopping.
“All those issues have been part of programs. The lower majors have to worry about transfers. The high majors have to worry about transfers and guys wanting to test the waters and holding scholarships up for two months. So that makes it very interesting for us all, but you've got to navigate it and it's not easy.”
… Beilein said the team has submitted “some names” to the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and is waiting for feedback, but he didn’t reveal who.
Beilein added the coaching staff plans to hold one-hour meetings with all the players next week to go over their stats and give them “a guide for the summertime.”
… According to Rivals.com, 2019 four-star guard Lester Quinones will take an official visit to Michigan on April 29.
Quinones (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) has taken official visits to LSU, Maryland and Memphis, and plans to take an official visit to Indiana on April 12.