Spoiler alert. [Bryan Fuller]
John Beilein has spent ten seasons in Ann Arbor. As of the most recent, he's the winningest coach in program history with 215. He snapped Michigan's post-sanction tournament drought in 2009, the first of seven NCAA appearances with the Wolverines, three of which have extended at least into the second weekend.
In recognition of the above, as well as the need for offseason #content, I've put together a series of All-Beilein teams, inspired by this twitter post and the ensuing conversation. My guidelines:
- I'm attempting to put together the best possible lineups, which isn't necessarily the same as picking the best individual players at each spot.
- I'm choosing individual player vintages (i.e. 2013 Trey Burke). A player can only be chosen once for each category, but different player years (i.e. freshman bench gunner 2014 Zak Irvin and well-rounded senior 2017 Zak Irvin) can be eligible for separate categories.
- The same player/year can be chosen for multiple categories—for instance, 2013 Mitch McGary making the All-Bench team doesn't exclude him from making the final All-Beilein team.
Eligibility for certain categories may be slightly fudged because of the limited pool of players.
I'm not putting too many constraints on myself for this exercise since the point is to let our imaginations run wild. Today's list is simple: here are the best freshman seasons from Beilein's players. The starting lineup may be familiar.
POINT GUARD: 2011-12 TREY BURKE
M didn't skip a beat with Trey Burke replacing Darius Morris. [Eric Upchurch]
When Darius Morris, who sometimes butted heads with Beilein, departed for the NBA after his breakout sophomore season, it looked like Michigan would face a prolonged transition period at point guard. With no suitable replacement on the current roster, the new PG would be a freshman. Trey Burke wasn't even the highest-ranked guard in Beilein's 2011 recruiting class; that was Southfield slasher Carlton Brundidge, who finished six spots ahead of Burke in the composite rankings (87th to 93rd).
From the very start, Burke was a revelation. He led the team in scoring, assists, and steals, fully embracing the role of lead dog despite his youth. He took control of Beilein's notoriously complicated offense in a way no other Michigan point guard has been able to replicate in their first year. One of his best games of the year was one on of the biggest stages when he dropped 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting, drilled a game-tying three from way beyond the arc (foreshadowing, that) down the stretch, assisted on Stu Douglass' eventual game-winner, and played a central role in Michigan's brilliant final defensive possession:
Even when Burke took his game to a new level and won national player of the year honors as a sophomore, his freshman year stood as his most surprising. Needless to say, we've forgiven Beilein for missing on his Brundidge evaluation.
Honorable Mention: 2013-14 Derrick Walton. The cycle continued as Walton stepped into the starting lineup to replace Burke, who'd departed for the NBA long before anyone expected him to when he first got to campus. Walton was in a cushier situation, however, with the Stauskas/LeVert/GRIII troika shouldering much of the offensive load. He played his role well, nailing 41% of his threes, making some impressive transition buckets, and—like Burke—saving one of his best performances for M's biggest rivalry game.
[Hit THE JUMP.]