redshirted the '88/'89 season so wouldn't he technically be a Bill Frieder recruit who went to the pros?
somehow we're only 124th
Where does John Beilein rank among Michigan's all-time basketball coaches? This was a board question I began answering there until I realized I had written half a column and not written my Tuesday column. Part I explains my subjective criteria and covers Mather, Oosterbaan, Strack and Orr.
So without further ado..
Show the candidates chart again.
Here's Part II. These got longer because now we're into my personal recollection period.
|Maloof is a skateboarding cup.|
Bill Frieder (1981-'89)
Career at M: 9 seasons, 189 wins (68%), 2 Big Ten titles
All-Americans: Gary Grant (1988), Glen Rice (1989)
Avg NCAA Tourney: 1.13
Pros he recruited (NBA games): Glen Rice (1,000), Loy Vaught (689), Terry Mills (678), Gary Grant (552), Tim McComick (483), Rumeal Robinson (336), Roy Tarpley (280), Sean Higgins (220), Demetrius Calip (7), and Richard Rellford. [EDIT: Eric Riley (186)] That's
10 11 guys and 4,249 4,435 games.
[Continued after the jump]
Story: There are two parts to Frieder's Michigan tenure: five years as a wrong-side-of-the-bubble team, and five as a tourney regular. Orr left when ISU called about his assistant Frieder and said "what about me instead?" He probably had good reason to want out; in Orr's last season Michigan finished 17-13 and 6th in a brutal conference: Indiana was preseason #1, Ohio State #4, and Purdue and Iowa were Final Four teams. Michigan remained middling for the first half-decade, though the '84 team (24-9, 10-8) barely missed the NCAA tourney and won the NIT.
|"That's the way it'll be."|
With Tarpley, Grant and Rellford, the Wolverines shot to the top of the conference and returned to the dance in '85 with a 26-4 (16-2 Big Ten) record and #1 seed, but were upset by Villanova in the 2nd round. In '86 the conference was even tougher than recently (six teams earned tourney bids with 19-14 Ohio State left out) but Frieder's team crushed Indiana in the final regular season game to take the undisputed crown; again they were upset in the 2nd round, this time by Orr's Cyclones. The '87 team was a 9-seed that lost in round 2 to 1-seed UNC. In '88 they earned a 3 seed and made it to the Sweet 16, but there lost to North Carolina again. And then there was '89: Michigan swept their nonconference schedule and took a #2 national ranking into the Big Ten season where they lost seven games to enter the tourney as a 3-seed. Then the thing.
Thing: Frieder took the Arizona State job but offered to coach Michigan through the tournament; athletic director Bo Schembechler was having none of it and immediately installed assistant Steve Fisher as head coach.
Non-Thing Things: Frieder had two degrees from the University of Michigan.
Better than a Beilein: Without the '89 tourney and NIT championship counting for him, Frieder's postseason record and the mediocre first half to his career put him closer to Amaker than Beilein in numbers. I'm inclined to give Frieder the benefit of the doubt on both. More credit where due: his teams were regularly ranked in the Top 25, he discovered and developed more NBA talent than any other Michigan coach, he played in a really hard conference, and his last team won the national championship without him.
|Fisher's tenure is overshadowed by Fabs. [Ed Reinke]|
Steve Fisher (1989 NCAA Tourney-'97)
Career at M: 9 seasons plus a tourney run, 185 wins (70%), no Big Ten titles, 1 national championship
All-Americans: Rumeal Robinson (1990), Chris Webber (1993), Jalen Rose (1994).
Avg NCAA Tourney: 3.00
Pros he recruited (NBA games): Juwan Howard (1,208), Jalen Rose (923), Chris Webber (831), Maurice Taylor (534),
Eric Riley (186), Maceo Baston (105), and Jimmy King (64). That's seven dudes and 3,851 3,665 games.
[EDIT: Riley was a Frieder recruit; I left the original counts if you care to give Fisher credit for developing him]
Story: Fisher spent 9 years as a high school coach and three as a WMU assistant before Frieder hired him to Michigan in 1982. You know the story of '89; Fisher wasn't expected to last but the run to the NCAA championship solidified his position. The conference didn't geat any easier; Michigan (23-8, 12-6) was 3rd in a 1990 Big Ten that sent seven teams to the dance and finished with five ranked, but the 3-seeded Wolverines got trashed in the 2nd round by Loyola Marymount. in '91 they took a step back, ending the season in the first round of the NIT. That spring he signed the Fab Five.
Indiana (a Final Four team), and Ohio State (whom Michigan dispatched in the Elite 8) were better in the regular season but the Fab Five secured their national sensation status in the tournament, losing to Duke in the championship game. In the aftermath Fisher decided to take the team to Europe, an experience that was lost on his wards. The next year they were 31-5, 15-3, finishing behind 1st overall seed Indiana in the Big Ten then romped back to famous timeout game.
Without Webber in '94 they finished 2nd to Purdue in another 7-tourney-team Big Ten, and made it to the Elite 8. The '95 team fell back to a 9 seed and went out in the first round. By '96 all the fabs were gone and the Taylor-Bullock team finished another eh season with a 1st round loss. The next year they went on a soul-crushing 5-game losing streak late in the conference season to drop back to the NIT, which they won.
That summer the Ed Martin scandal began to unfold, and early in the fall new Michigan AD Tom Goss fired Fisher for allowing that to happen under his watch (the NCAA didn't end up finding any wrongdoing with Fisher).
Thing: 1989. Recruited the Fab Five. Also recruited Taylor, Bullock and Traylor.
Better than a Beilein: It's become apparent since those turbulent times that Fisher can indeed coach some basketball. It's impossible to extract his success from that of the Fabs', as it is to judge his career without acknowledging that players he recruited ultimately drove Michigan basketball to commit program seppuku. But the numbers are tough to argue with: three trips to the national championship game with one Sports Illustrated special edition, 70% (program-best) winning percentage, and the most legendary recruiting class ever.
|Since 2010-'11 Beilein is 6-3 vs Izzo. [Fuller]|
John Beilein (2008-current)
Career at M: 7 seasons, 150 wins (61%), 2 Big Ten titles (1 outright)
Avg NCAA Tourney: 2.14
All-Americans: Trey Burke (2013), Nik Stauskas (2014)
Pros recruited (NBA games): Darius Morris (94-active), Trey Burke (63-active), Tim Hardaway Jr. (74-active). Also Manny Harris (89).
Story: Offensive wizard from a basketball family who developed a niche-style, hired out of West Virginia with the expectation of getting Michigan back to a likeable regular 8- or 9-seed outfit that surprises in the tournament after a decade of mediocrity/bad luck under Ellerbe and Amaker.
His transition year was awful, but Beilein got Michigan back in the tournament in Year 2, progressing to Round 2. In 2010 they barely missed the tournament, but in 2011 the collection of 0-3 stars he'd collected scrapped their way to the 2nd round, this time almost knocking off Duke. His 2012 team put freshman Trey Burke with sophomore Hardaway and Morgan, and senior Novak and Stu, and won a surprise share of the Big Ten title, but they lost in the 1st round to OHIO!. In 2013 Burke got help from a ridiculous recruiting class of rising shooters—Glenn Robinson, Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Caris LeVert, and Spike Albrecht—and the team advanced to the national championship game. In 2014, absent Burke and Hardaway and having lost McGary to injury they won a 1980s-level brutal Big Ten conference outright by three games, and progressed to the Elite 8.
Thing: Band of Brothers connection.
Other Thing: Considers subs with the grandchildren a real humdinger.
Other other thing: Gets lost in Milwaukee when taking a post-game constitutional because neither he nor his security guard can work a map app.
Better than a Beilein: More than we ever could have hoped.
One man's ranking of best Michigan basketball coaches
This is tough. Frieder and Fisher I have tied at the hip, and Beilein I have just under wherever I put Strack, with the understanding that he's going to pass Strack unless next year takes a huge dive. So…
Frieder I decided over Beilein because his troubled building period was Top-15, NBA prospect-laden outfits that had bad luck; Fisher came along with him and the Strack-Beilein toss-up is right after. Given my explicit criteria that's my list of "greatest" Michigan coaches. Given a choice I'd take Beilein over the field. It's really close at the top.
redshirted the '88/'89 season so wouldn't he technically be a Bill Frieder recruit who went to the pros?
2012 team lost in the first round to Ohio - they did not play Duke in the second round.
I noticed my mistakes on Beilein's section but needed Riley pointed out -- redshirts throw me off in basketball; I remember Riley as a Fisher guy but I guess you're right. Edits made.
Also, we went 15-17 in 2010, so it's not accurate to say that we "barely missed the tournament."
Only reason I knew that is I played high school ball in Ohio and he was the same grade as me - Class of '88.
as the other guys, so it's hard to fully compare him to them. But as an X's and O's coach, he's #1 in my opinion. I'd have him over Fisher because Beilein has one shared Big Ten title and one outright vs. Fisher's ZERO. The national title to me was only partially Fisher's credit, as it was won by the team Frieder put together.
7 seasons as opposed to 9 isn't off by all that much.
when you consider that it took Beilein some to build his team. Another way to judge our coaches is to compare where the program was at the beginning and end of their tenures.Also, I think you left Traylor out of Fisher's numbers.
what about transfers? fisher also had olivier st jean but was too dumb to play him. so he transferred out west (san jose state, i think). he blew up out there and played a number of years in the nba. he also changed his name but i can't remember to what.
Tariq Abdul Wahad
The most accurate comment I could make about his tenure would be to mimic Mr. Burns and say, "It was the best of times. It was the blurst of times" and then hit a monkey.
4 years of season tickets, I don't recall ever saying to myself, "Damn, that's a well coached team." As your post argues, there's more to it than running clever X's and O's, but still ....
Maybe you're right that the tournament performance is bad luck, but still ...
I was in high school with Frieder, college with Fisher, purple haze through the aughts, and now sweet relief. I watched all of these teams religiously, some live and alot on TV.
Frieder won with talent - period. I don't think anyone would call him a superior coach, so to have him #1 seems silly. 90s B10 hoops was just as good as the 80s (both were incredibly high quality basketball throughout the B10, along with the Big East and then the ACC slowly becoming superior by the mid-90s IMO).
Fisher was and is a great coach, and the 90s were awesome, and yes the fab five, but god dammit he's responsible for the f'in sinkhole that swallowed UM hoops for the next 10 years, which we suffered through year after year, through Ellerbe and Amaker. Dear lord those were terrible, terrible years.
It may be true that Beilein hasn't been around long enough. But if he keeps this up for only 2 more years, he is all alone as our best coach, and it won't be close.
Does not win the National Championship with Frieder at the helm. Bill Frieder was a tight little man whose teams ALWAYS played scared in big games. That team changed dramatically when Bo sent Frieder packing. Frieder would have never allowed Glen Rice the freedom to just bomb away that Fisher did. The result would have been just another Frieder early exit.
Frieder was a great recruiter, a decent guy and a piss poor basketball coach. The basketball genius during Frieder's time here was Orr, who in the middle 70s ran one of the most innovative offenses I have ever seen. And unlike Beilein's teams, Orr's teams played just plain nasty on defense.
I am mildly chagrined to confess that I supported John Barahal's run for student government on a dump Orr platform. What we didn't know at the time was that Orr's 1971/72 teams were in part populated by idiots. When the idiots left and were replaced by Campy Russell, CJ Kupec, Wayman Britt, Joe Johnson and Steve Grote, Orr blew everybody's doors off with an amazing cut through approach that rotated the entire team inside out until your bigs were outside chasing our best shooters Camy Russel and CJ Kupec around the perimiter, and your guards were attempting to guard the rim and rebound, but what they were really doing is getting the living shit kicked out of them on the boards by Wayman Britt and Steve Grote.
I well up at the memories.
Apologies for forgetting to mention Lionel "The Maintrain" Worrel.
I remember an OT game against Iowa at Crisler that was a big win, and didn't Michigan kick the crap out of a Bobby Knight team on national TV to end the season? (Others have better recollection of these things than me, so apologies.) So "always played scared" isn't 100% correct. But, you can be magnanimous with the exceptions and still retain the same basic point.
They crushed Bobby Knight in the 1986 season final. It was a "playoff" game, with the winner taking the Big Ten Championship.
I would say that Frieder's teams did not always play focused. Lots of Hotdogging. Even Knight commented on how good they were when focused, but that they were not focused most of the time.
He was a dick. He was also right. The 1986 team went out in the second round against Johnny Orr's Iowa State team at the Barn in Minnesota. They mailed in that performance, assuming it was just a formality. They did not take ISU seriously until too late.
I said they always played scared.
To be sure Frieder had some big wins in the conference, as well he should have. Tarpley, Rellford, Joubert, Wade, Henderson and Grant, among others were bigger, stronger, faster (excluding Antoine Joubert on that faster thing) and just plain better than the talent everybody else was running out there including Knight for a nice run of years. Frieder never got anything approaching the potential that that group had to offer.
In February, Frieder would grind you up with defense and rebounding, but in March, you'd look at him over there sweating like a pig with his towel hanging over his shoulder and that tormented look on his face and you just knew it was gonna end badly. So did his teams.
'89 was my senior year. That team played like a gigantic weight had fallen from their shoulders when Frieder left
i believe that was a 4 OT game. i was there. iowa had a great team too with the twin towers of stokes and payne. i think they had a great point guard too who ended up blowing out his knee. forget his name though.
Who was a much better player than either Michael Payne or Greg Stokes, both of whom had pro careers mostly in Europe. Hanson had a decent NBA career.
Great Iowa point guard that blew out his knee, but he was a little earlier - late 70s to around 1980.
I think Orr's assistant Jim Dutcher deserves some of the credit for Orr's improvement as a coach in the mid-70s. I think his first year coincided with the improvement of the team in 1974 when they won the Big Ten and lost to Marquette in elite 8. I give him a lot of credit for the offensive and defensive schemes of that period.
Fisher's numbers? How can you count those that were disappeared? All I will say is that 2 of the coaches now ranked above JB have tainted reputations which I don't believe the numbers trump.
"In the aftermath Fisher decided to take the team to Europe, an experience that was lost on his wards."
I found this a bit puzzling. Does it mean that it was a bad decision to take the trip? That the players didn't appreciate or profit from it? If so, why is that true? I recall Jalen speaking about the trip in the Fab Five documentary, but, if memory serves, he was positive about it, culture-shock notwithstanding.
The Fab Five hated it at the time. They were tired from their tournament run and just wanted to hang out at home and be kids. They were teenage city kids that could not have cared less at the time about the 2000 year old history of this European country or that European country.
This is what "the experience was lost on them" is about.
Okak, that could be so. Is that common knowledge? And is that what the author of the post meant? In the context of this article, it seems like it should have some bearing on Fisher's coaching ability. Still not clear if it's supposed to be a credit or detriment to him.
They wanted to be home. I don't think it has any relevance to the rest of the story, and it feels more like a detriment to Fish, but it's true that at least the Fab Five were not thrilled about the trip.
I, too, found it a little out of place. Perhaps Seth was using it to show how Fisher lacked a certain connectability with his players as a coach and that is what prevented that team from being more sucessful.
Being abile to identify with players is an intangible quality that Beilein and his staff seem to have in spades. I remember Brian writing a column after Jerry Montgomery's hire saying that he represented a fresh, young face that could speak Lil' Wayne rather than Robert Goulet. The bilingualism of this staff seems to be integral to Beilein's success in gettting the most out of his players.
Based on how they did after they left Michigan, Fisher is a much better coach than Frieder. He is the gold standard in terms of his Michigan record that the rest are chasing.
Beilein may catch him, but he's not there yet.
Beilein has already done MORE than Fisher did in 7 years than Fisher in 9 AT Michigan in terms of Big 10 titles and is fast approaching tourney runs. The latter is the main difference at this point. And the program was worsening the longer Fisher was here, unlike Beilein. Fisher ended with two NCAA 1st round exits and a NIT championship (5th/6th place conf finishes) - meanwhile we are talking back to back NC championship appearance and 1 jump shot away from a final 4. And if not for such a drastic early entree we would be returning 4 (count em!) potential first round draft choices in next year's draft. This program is accelerating the longer the coach is here, unlike with Fisher.
(I think Fisher is a fine coach fyi)
I dont think what a coach does elsewhere has much impact on who was the best Michigan coach. Larry Brown was probably the best overall coach ever in 6 NBA cities and 3 colleges. But was he the best coach for ANY of those teams? In a lot of cases no because he didnt stay long enough or his accomplishments AT that school/franchise were less than at others.
I went to UofM's summer basketball camp in 1985 when I was 15 years old. Frieder was the head coach at the time, but he mostly sat back and watched everything. He glad-handed the better players and made sure he was the one to introduce Gary Grant to the campers. Fisher, as the assistant coach, demonstrated all the drills. I'm sure it's that way at almost all basketball camps, but I also went to State's summer camp when Heathcote was the head coach, and Jud was out there on the court demonstrating how to shoot a jump shot. Frieder's teams were a lot like that Kentucky unit we just saw - lots of individual talent, not much teamwork or team concepts on display. I still remember Fisher demonstrating how to play post defense at that camp, and I see his guys play that way even today. His offense was also not up to par with Beilein's, but I think Fisher is an underrated defensive coach. If you are ranking coaches, I think you give points to guys who do more with less. So I put Beilein first, Fisher second, and Frieder third, just considering those three. Orr was a tad before my time, but he probably would slot between Beilein and Fisher.
is an interesting simile. I agree that their teams have/had a lot of similarities, though Calipari's are more extreme in that regard.
There are a lot of different ways to become a top-level coach. You can develop a superior eye for talent, or a superior knowledge of x's and o's, or the ability to effectively teach fundamentals to your players. Or you can develop relationships with the kinds of people that can deliver exceptional recruiting classes to your program. (These don't have to be mutually exclusive: Fisher was a terrific teacher too.)
To me this discussion ultimately boils to down to one question: is the ability and willingness to cultivate a relationship with a Perry Watson or Ed Martin or William Wesley an integral part of being a head coach? Or is it something extraneous to the real business of coaching? Or, for that matter, even detrimental?
I know where I stand on that question but I also know there are a lot people on the other side.
I always had the sense Michigan consistently underachieved back in the Freider days. When you read the list of players he recruited, unh, yeah, he did not get their best out of them.
Beilein is actually very similar in early career track to Frieder if you look closely. Messy early... started to accelerate years 4-6, etc. Frieder recruited very well - we had some sick NBA talent, not just the front line players but the 4th, 5th, 6th guys on some of those teams were really good. How he was as an X's an O's probably was more debatable as those teams didnt do as well in the tourney as their talent should have done.
Again this is all moot. In 2 years Beilein will have put enough time in to be #1. He just needs to finish top 4-5 in Big 10, and win 1 game one year in the NCAA and make it the other year and his on the court accomplishments will dwarf the others.
At that point the question will become where does he rank among all UM coaches in history. Think he will have a serious chance for top 3 if he coaches til age 67.
Mark Hughes, who was co-captain of the championship team, was signed by the Pistons and was on the roster in 1990-1991. It is noted in articles about him that he played for the Pistons (as opposed to when he was under contract with the Raptors in 1996, but did not play). I swear I can remember seeing him on the court, as I have had season tickets since before then, but I cannot find any statistics on him that year beyond his $250,000 salary....
Basketball-reference.com has box scores for every NBA game of that season and there's no mention of Mark Hughes. I don't think anyone's missing from the boxes, either, because the minutes played always add to 240.
Look at his bio on various sources and it says he played for the Pistons, as opposed to being signed by the Raptors but not playing in 96. He was definitely on the roster and it shows his salary at 250,000 for the season. I guess maybe all I saw him in was warm-ups...
His players genuinely seem to like each other and support each other and play as a team with very little selfishness. The other coaches had some teams that played that way (especially Orr) but Coach B seems to have created an atmsophere where that kind of team work is the rule not the exception. Also these teams are the most fun to watch partly because of his offensive strategy. If he could get just a little more intensity of defense we could be in basketball Nirvana.
Beilein is clearly leagues ahead of Fisher + Frieder.
I lived through those eras, and only now do I know what it's like to have a coaching advantage.
Bill Frieder was a great recruiter and what I like about him was the way he recruited Michigan basketball talent. We usually got the best of the in-state talent which is talent that didn't end up in East Lansing. Beilein is showing us he can recuit but most of the talent is coming from outside of Michigan. We got Walton but most of the instate blue chippers still go to Izzo.
But by far John Beilein is the best of all of the U-M coaches at being a representative of the University. There was always something suspicious going on during the Frieder era which I think was what caused the rift with Bo. We know what was going on during the Fisher Era. The B1G championships and the NCAA runs are the gravy - the integrity of the program is what pushes Beilein to the top.
I started watching Big 10 basketball seriously during Orr years and have been a season ticketholder since the beginning of the Fisher era. I like watching disciplined, unselfish teams that play above their individual talent level. In that respect, Beilein is far superior to either Fisher or Frieder. Similar to a previous comment, I left many games during the Fisher era thinking I had seen some amazing basketball talent, but rarely that I had seen a well-coached game. Not so during the Beilein era.
Is there a way to do a recruiting analysis of these three coaches? Specifically, would there be a way to look at how all three coaches' recruits performed in terms of expectations vs. results? I understand that recruiting resources were limited up until 10-15 years ago, but I think it would be an interesting distinguisher. Beilein and his staff seem to be incredibly gifted when it comes to developing their players and having them outperform expectations. I guess another interesting comparison would be using NCAA tournament performance vs. seed expectation.
I thought Fisher recruited Robert "tractor" Traylor
Frieder was a massive tournament choker. He lost when it counted the most The only reason why his Big Ten championship teams have been discussed recently is to provide historical context for how long it has been since we won one. But nobody ultimately cared once he choked in the tourney. The '85 and '86 teams went into the dustbin of history immediately and were forgotten. Nobody remembers those teams as fondly as they remember any of the Michigan teams that have made it to the Elite Eight and beyond. He doesn't belong on the same page as Beilien or Fisher.
Fisher is a really hard coach to evaluate. His legacy is the result of one tournament run with Frieder's team and one insane recruiting class. After the stars of that class left though, he had three disappointing years with a group of very poorly coached underachievers. He also had two rather disappointing finishes immediately preceding the Fab Five. I am actually pretty surprised by the success that he has had at SDSU where he hasn't been able to attract five star talent. He must be developing guys in a manner that he didn't do it at Michigan. In the book Fab Five, Mitch Albom paints a portrait of a guy who was barely in charge of the program. The book also speculates that running a loose ship is partially what attracted great recruits to play for Steve Fisher instead of playing for a disciplinarian like Bobby Knight.
When it comes to the eyeball test, I think that Beilein surpasses both of them. Recruiting is the one area where he comes up short by comparison, but the recruiting success of Frieder and Fisher can't be taken at face value because of the Ed Martin scanda (we only got Fab Five victories vacated, but Frieder was not regarded as clean). And, our '12 and '13 classes were excellent (and Beilein has definitely not underachived with them so far)
Found myself seated next to Bill Frieder at a blackjack table at the Bellagio in Las Vegas years ago (after the Michigan exit). He was carrying himself off as a self-professed card counter, although counting cards against an eight deck shoe is....suspect. My buddy, also a UM grad, did his best to slip in the phase "Michigan man" every chance possible, prompting Frieder to murmer, to no one in particular, "alot of chatter at this table", which, of course, was kerosene on the fire to us.
I have heard stories about Frieder and card counting. Was he banned from casinos for this?
It may have been bad luck but with the exception of the sweet sixteen team he had no tournament success. Yes, '89 was his team but i wonder if he would have gotten the same results. Frieder operated at a high stress level, and I think Fisher's calm demeanor helped a lot.
I also think Frieder came into a less difficult environment than Beilein. Orr may have been on the decline at Michigan but he still had had a fair amount of success.