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.
So there's this new assistant coach, right? Who is he?
Bacari Alexander hails from Detroit, where he attended Southwestern High School. He played at Southwestern under coach Larry Price.
Following his high school career, he moved on to Robert Morris outside Pittsburgh. There he was an All-Northeast Conference freshman in 1995. He spent only two years at RMU, averaging 8.2 points and 4.5 assists in his 55 games.
From Robert Morris, Alexander transferred to Detroit-Mercy. He played two years as a Titan, averaging 5.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in his 62 games played. UofD won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference both of his seasons with matching 25-6 records and played in the NCAA tournament. He made the All-Conference Defensive Team as a senior. YouTube-age:
Following a short stint in the Pistons' front office, Alexander returned to the court as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. He played with the team for two years and was inducted (along with all former Globetrotters) into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Alexander started his coaching career with six years at his alma mater. The Titans never made the NCAA Tournament with Alexander on the coaching staff at Detroit, but they advanced to the NIT following the 2002 season. In 2005, they nearly upset Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Horizon League Tournament to make the Big Dance.
From Detroit, Alexander moved on to Ohio University. In his lone year at Ohio the Bobcats went 20-13 (9-7 MAC) and advanced to the second round of the CBI Tournament.
Alexander has spent the last two years in Kalamazoo coaching Western Michigan's frontcourt. He coached two Broncos, spectacularly-named Flenard Whitfield and Nathan Hutcheson, to All-MAC Freshman honors. Western went 10-21 in Alexander's first year with the team, but their 7-9 conference mark was enough to win the MAC West. They improved to 18-15 last year with an 8-8 mark in conference, good for second in the West.
Before leaving Western Michigan, Alexander helped the Broncos ink JuCo bigman Caleb Dean:
“I felt real comfortable with coach Hawkins and coach (Bacari) Alexander played a big part in it, too,” said Dean... “They made me feel comfortable. That was pretty much a wrap.”
From Michigan's official release, Alexander sounds genuinely excited about the opportunity in Ann Arbor:
"My family and I are very excited to be part of the Michigan family," said Alexander. "As a native of the State of Michigan, I feel very fortunate to be associated with such a great program. For a lack of better terms this is a match made in heaven for me.
"I am anxious to start working with this young and developing team, and I am eager and motivated to recruit the kind of student-athletes that will put Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten."
Michael Rothstein's extensive profile on AnnArbor.com provides insight as to what Alexander will bring to the program, especially as a recruiter:
“I’m a grass-roots guy. I’ve done very well in recruiting the national urban areas of the United States, let alone Detroit,” Alexander said. “I’m a PSL product and a lot of times it helps with regards to recruiting because people tend to embrace their own. So that can be, that has been an advantage.
But he'll also help to mold Michigan's current big men, filling the duties he's performed at previous coaching stops, and that John Mahoney has been performing at Michigan for the past few years:
“The thing that’s nice about that particular situation, with the youth of the frontcourt in particular, is you get a blank canvas, very similar to what I had inherited during my time at Western Michigan,” Alexander said. “We had a young group and we gave them a baptism by fire and that’s going to be needed in a grueling and physical Big Ten conference.”
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Alexander will be charged with teaching a very inexperienced group of big men when he arrives in Ann Arbor. DeShawn Sims and Zack Gibson graduate. Ben Cronin left the program early in the season due to medical issues. That leaves a set of four freshmen. Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans redshirted last year; Michigan has just signed Jon Horford and Evan Smotrycz.
Horford is likely bound for a redshirt unless there's a dire need for him to play. Smotrycz may play more of a wing-forward role in John Beilein's perimeter-oriented offense. That means McLimans and Morgan will be the focus of getting guys ready to play right away in the post. Alexander's pedigree the past two seasons (albeit on a smaller stage) is a sign that he's capable of getting at least one of them ready to go.
Down the road, Alexander will help with in-state recruiting, particularly in Detroit. He's a Detroit native (who grew up a Michigan fan), a Detroit Public School League graduate, and a charismatic recruiter. He's also known as one of the best-dressed coaches in the NCAA, which is apparently something people track. Who knew?