maybe i should have had greg howard write the brandon obit.
In a (thankfully brief) ceremony yesterday, the next phase of Michigan's basketball programs kicked off with the groundbreaking on a new practice facility.
Though most Athletic Department representatives didn't say it raises expectations - they want to win every game, every year, how can you get higher than that? - the facility will help both the men's and women's programs reach new levels of success. The expectations haven't changed, but the ability to reach them has improved. There are two ways in which the facility will help the program: getting top recruits on campus, and helping them improve once they're Wolverines.
AD David Brandon summed up the recruiting benefit simply, saying "I always look at these things from the perspective of a recruit." Young kids will want to see that the school is trying to help them reach their goals on the basketball court before they ever consider committing to Michigan. Men's coach John Beilein said that recruits don't talk about the lack of a practice facility, but their silence speaks volumes.
Once top recruits are on campus, the new practice facility will be a huge benefit to improving their game. The main gym at Crisler Arena is the only basketball court on Michigan's Athletic campus (depending on what you consider the free-for-all gyms at the IM Building). Now, there will be courts to use for practice even when Crisler Arena is occupied by other events. Players will also have access to practice facilities during non-peak hours, meaning it's easier for them to take the classes they want. The players will also be practicing in the same facility that their coaches work, which isn't the case right now. Currently, the coaches' offices are in the main athletic department complex.
Though the schedule is not set in stone, the completion date for the project is in Fall of 2011. There's a good chance construction goes ahead of schedule, as it has for the Michigan Stadium Project, but the coaches are telling 2011 recruits that the facility should be done around the time they enter school.
Yay, we will finally have a practice facility!
Side Note: According to Associate AD Joe Parker, 59 of the 81 suites in Michigan Stadium are committed. All but two of those have been paid for. There will be an open house in June for those who have committed to suites or club seats to come sit in their seats and see what the view will be like. For more info, head to michiganstadiumproject.com.
Michigan, OSU, ND "serious suitors." HT: UMHoops
What I just said, yo.
Basketball writers at Scout and Rivals have to be terrified with the content UMHoops is putting out.
John Beilein and his assistants met with press today to give the season a final wrap, introduce Bacari Alexander, and look forward to the future. Notes:
John Beilein on Bacari Alexander & the Staff
- Beilein reached out to a few people regarding the coaching vacancy, but Bacari Alexander was the best fit. He's the total package as a teacher of the game. Whenever there are changes on a staff, it's an opportunity to address issues.
- Since Michigan's big men have no game experience, it's important to have their position coach be a teacher of fundamentals.
- As part of the process of interviewing Bacari Alexander, he worked out with Patrick Beilein while the current assistants watched.
- The coaching staff has good chemistry, with all having a familiarity in the Big Ten footprint for recruiting, but also able to recruit nationally. Alexander brings a strong in-state connection.
- Beilein hasn't made a lot of progress on selecting a new administrative assistant (Jerry Dunn left the coaching staff at the same time as John Mahoney), but it's possible that he could be a former coach. There's also a chance some of the responsibilities change between that role and the video coordinator.
- Bacari will have to get in shape to bang with the big guys in practice. He's going to be a hands-on coach. He can help the team increase their physical play when they need it.
- So far, Alexander hasn't had a chance to get into the groove in Ann Arbor. He's still acclimatizing to the new surroundings. It's "exciting" to be a part of the Michigan program.
- Alexander was coached by fellow assistant Mike Jackson when he played at University of Detroit Mercy. Said Alexander: "We've had a lot of good times together, hopefully a lot more."
- Alexander has always enjoyed sweating with the players in practice. He can demonstrate things, instead of just describing them.
- It is both exciting and challenging to have such a young group of big men to coach. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford were specifically mentioned.
- There is a lot of parity nowadays in Division 1 basketball. The mid-majors have good coaches, and veteran mid-major teams can compete with programs that have one-and-done talent.
- There's a lot more information out there about recruiting than there was in Alexander's day. The internet experts aren't always accurate. With the rise of AAU ball, there's less of an emphasis on educating the players.
Beilein on Other Stuff
- Ground will be broken on the new basketball practice facility May 10th. Within 17 months, that project and Crisler upgrades should be in place.
- As Big Ten expansion goes, Beilein doesn't know much about the finances and marketing, but he trusts the university presidents and Jim Delaney to do the right thing for the current Big Ten schools. "If we expand, it's going to be with the right universities."
- The Ohio State loss in the Big Ten Tournament hurt, but nearly every season ends with a loss. The players and coaches need to get over it and move on.
- Manny and DeShawn are still around campus. Both are training very hard to prepare for the next level.
- DeShawn Sims, Anthony Wright, Zack Gibson, and CJ Lee will be graduating this weekend.
- Beilein's nephew, captain Joseph Ludick, is one of the pilots for Marine One, the presidential helicopter. He'll be in Ann Arbor this weekend to fly President Obama.