Rumors have circulated about Bielien as the top choice for the job. The commentators are almost unanimous that he is a great coach. Whether he can recuit is another story. I believe by mere proximity alone to a hoops recruiting hotbed it will certainly improve. How much so is the question.
I watched both the semifinal and final games of the NIT. The offense of WVU is well schooled, yet they are also not afraid to push the ball up the court. This was one of my reservations not having watched WVU before. They are clearly not a slowdown team. While you can try to judge the relative speed of the game by possessions, it can be difficult due to turnovers. Having watched the game, especially Clemson, it is clear that the guards had the green light to push the ball. Some of the pushing came even when there were not favorable numbers. This observation set aside some of the fears I had about a Bielein coached team.
What may be more intereting, however, is what they do with a big man. Is the Bielein offense flexible enough to utilize a true post up player? Logically, a coach with his experience, undeniable tactical expertise should be able to accomodate a true low post player. Yes, I understand that we haven't had such a player (Courtney Sims -- I think not) for some time. But it is my hope that when this program gets turned around that the lure of UM and winning will bring in some top recruits, including low posts.
My answer: John Thompson III at G'Town employs a similar offensive scheme as Bielein. Hibbert is thriving in that system, and has become a star in his fourth and final year with G'Town. Bielein is every bit as good a coach as Thompson (probably better) and I, for one, suggest that he will be able to adapt to a quality low post player. If so, the question is really can he convince that type of player to come to Michigan? Bielein can certainly rely on a record of vastly improving players that come to his teams (something foriegn to TA) and that alone should post up recruits to consider his teams. Add in the attraction of UM (and hopefully new facilities in the next 5 years) and we could become a powerhouse at recruting, if the Bielein's personality meshes with the families and AAU coaches in Detroit, Flint and Saginaw, and Grand Rapids. In my opinion, much of this will be accomplished solely players, coaches, and families seeing a well coached, disciplined team on the floor -- something that hasn't happened since Fisher was here.
As for guards and swing players, it seems hard to believe that players like Grady, Harris and Legion would not want to play in a system that highlights cuts to the hoop and open three shots. There is obviously discipline, but it is within a system that clearly gets players good open shots. I was very impressed with the ability of WVU players to cut to the hoop and kick out for open shots. Ahh, only if Dion had played with a system that allowed him wide open three balls!
So what about Kruger, Lowery, Pearl and Stallings:
CBS reported that Stallings would get an interview, something that appeared to be expected.
"CBS SportsLine.com learned Wednesday the school has targeted Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, who multiple sources said will strongly consider a move from the SEC to the Big Ten if an appropriate deal is presented."
Whether they have any inside information or not, it's interesting to note that they still identify Kruger as a candidate:
"Additional possible candidates for the Michigan job include UNLV's Lon Kruger, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery and Butler's Todd Lickliter, among others."'
No surprise about Lowery. He has been on the radar the whole search, and should also get an interview. But I don't see Lickliter over Stallings, Beilien and Lowery, much less the possibility of Kruger.
The question is Kruger. He has remained very quiet. There has not been a denial out of Kruger as to the UM job. Of course, that would be in his best interest, anyway, in order to get a bigger contract. But, it is interesting that there has
really been no comment either from Michigan that he is not a candidate, or from Kruger that he's not interested. Kruger remains my first preference. While it looks like Bielien will get the first shot at the job, it would be foolish in my mind for Martin not to sit down with Kruger this weekend and gauge whether there is any chance of him taking the job. Kruger is the same age as Bielien. He has recruiting experience in the midwest, and a proven track record. Kruger apparently remains down to earth despite having coached in the NBA and Vegas.
I thought it interesting that Pearl dispelled
any interest in the Iowa job. When he did so, the stated that in
another time and place, he might have been intersted. But he also stated how well he liked and has success recruiting Michigan. Odd statement if you're not interested in the job:
"'I've recruited Michigan well for years as an assistant at Iowa and a head coach at Southern Indiana, and here and (Wisconsin-) Milwaukee. I've always recruited Michigan. Those are opportunities that you certainly try to get to, but I'm here. I'm in the SEC. I'm at Tennessee. I go to work every day trying to reward Tennessee for bringing me here."
Not exactly a denial of interest in the Michigan job, if you're asking me.