Coach John Beilein sees similarities between Villanova and Loyola, and shares his philosophy on the athletic training and development of recruits. "You're not amassing talent, you're building a team."
San Antonio — The thought has never run through Michigan coach John Beilein’s head.
The clock striking zero. The confetti streaming down. The national championship trophy being handed to him after his team prevailed and is the last one standing.
“I never think about that,” Beilein said Sunday during a news conference at the Alamodome. “You just think about the next game. That's all we think about.”
But for Michigan, that next one is Monday’s national title game against Villanova — a pinnacle and point Beilein knows all too well just how hard it is to reach.
For that reason, there’s no sense of relief or satisfaction. There’s no time sit around and soak everything in because all the tireless hours and sleepless nights have led to this one elusive moment.
“The two things I get most common would be are you enjoying this? I'm not enjoying this. I'm working. I love working,” Beilein said. “But it's not like I'm sitting around laughing all day long and saying isn't this great. I got a great view of the concert and a great sound for the concerts right outside. And I'm looking and saying, ‘Boy, those guys are all having fun.’ But we have work to do.
“The other one would be what would this mean? It would just mean that we did our best and we ended up having more breaks than other teams. And it would be great for all our fans and the university.”
It’s an opportunity Beilein has only come across once before during his lengthy career, when Michigan fell to Louisville in the 2013 national final — a title the NCAA vacated earlier this year after a sex scandal.
But even when he looks back on that game, Beilein doesn’t think about it any differently or have any different feelings.
“We had our chance, and we couldn't quite get it done,” he said. “We didn't get breaks in that game. Maybe it all said, ‘Coach, you're not going to get any breaks in this game, but you don't know it, but in five years Jordan Poole is going to hit an incredible shot to give you another opportunity.’”
While Michigan’s players are on the cusp of reaching their dream and achieving something that will last forever, they’re also driven to deliver the one thing that’s missing in Beilein’s career: a national title.
“I think that’s something that people underestimate, I mean, he’s a really good coach,” junior center Moritz Wagner said. “He’s coached for 40 years. We do so much together and we really want to win this because he’s been so close, and that’s something he hasn’t accomplished yet. You really want to leave it all out there for him. It’s definitely a big motivation.”
Regardless of what happens on Monday, though, Beilein said it won’t change his view on what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the court throughout his career — and in his life.
“Others may, but I don't think (wife) Kathleen and I would look at it any different,” he said. “This is like approaching some 12 — I haven't done the math — like 1,200 games as a head coach. And it's just like you hang in there and you just do your absolute best every single day. And some day you're going to say, ‘I gave it everything I had, and if I'm falling into my grave, that's OK too.’
“But you just do everything you can to be the best coach, the best mentor, the best teacher, the best husband, the grandfather, father every day, and you go do it again. And that's all I want to be.”
Michigan vs. Villanova
Tip-off: 9:20 p.m. Monday, Alamodome, San Antonio
TV/radio: TBS/WWJ 950
Records: No. 3 seed Michigan 33-7, No. 1 seed Villanova 35-4