Beilein by Fuller, Orr and Ooster via Bentley.
I got this question from PeteM on the board: Where does John Beilein rank among Michigan's all-time basketball coaches?
The question is subjective since everyone has their own criteria. Mine: wins (total), winning percentage, Big Ten regular season titles, tournament success, All-Americans/NBA prospects, and general good guy-itude.
Non-candidates for completeness:
I kept Cowles out of it since this was getting long and he only coached for a few (wild) seasons, wherein he dragooned football stars and developed the pick and roll.
For ease, I call the 2013-'14 season "2014" etc.
* Rather than winning % I showed their average record over a 30-game season.
** NCAA tournament factor, equivalent to average number of tournament games his teams would play in. A 1.00 means his average team will make the tourney and go out in the 1st round. I took out the play-in rounds.
† This could as well be 7 or 8: Manny Harris was recruited by Amaker but played his entire career for Beilein. Stauskas, GRIII, LeVert, and McGary at least can be counted as future NBA players. It's too early to say the same for Walton/Irvin but it's not a bad bet either.
I ended up breaking this up into two posts because it was getting long, so here's the candidates chronologically through Johnny Orr:
|Mather [via Wikipedia]|
E.J. Mather (1920-'28)
Career at M: 9 seasons, 108 wins (67%), 3 Big Ten titles (1 outright)
All-Americans: Bennie Oosterbaan (1927 & '28), Richard Doyle (1926), Harry Kipke (1924)
Pros: Kind of pre-dates that.
Story: Took over a young program and went 3-9 his first year, then tied for the Big Ten championship his second, winning his last 8 games of the season to tie Purdue and Wisconsin at the end. The 1926-'27 season, when Bennie Oosterbaan lent his talents, was the best; Michigan went 10-2 in-conference and 14-3 overall. Soon after that season Mather had major surgery for cancer, and wasn't the same after that. Yost coached the 1927-'28 team in Mather's name; the cancer claimed his life that August.
Thing: Mather was also a Yost football assistant, and two of his players later became football coaches.
Better than a Beilein: It's tough to judge that far back or guess what the future might have held, but he didn't have a nationally competitive team until his 8th year so I'm comfortable putting him behind.
[After the jump it gets tougher]
Bennie Oosterbaan (1939-'46)
Career at M: 8 seasons, 81 wins (53%), 0 Big Ten titles
All-Americans: none, but he was one himself
Pros: Recruited Bob Harrison, who starred for Cowles and played 615 games in the NBA.
Story: Bennie did just about everything at Michigan. He coached basketball while still an assistant for the football team
Thing: What Bennie is most credited for as a hoops coach was saving the team from the unwatchable drudgery of Franklin Cappon, who a quarter century before the shot clock, apparently believed time of possession was a thing.
Better than a Beilein: Yes but only because Bennie was better than everybody at everything ever, so no.
|via Ann Arbor district library|
Dave Strack (1961-'68)
Career at M: 8 seasons, 113 wins (56%), 3 Big Ten titles
All-Americans: Bill Buntin, and Cazzie Russell three times.
Avg NCAA Tourney: 1.88
Pros he recruited: Cazzie (817), Rudy Tomjanovich (768), Ollie Darden (223), John Clawson (70), Craig Dill (65), Bill Buntin (42), and Dennis Stewart (12) played a combined 1997 games in the NBA and ABA.
Story: Former assistant under Perigo who rescued the moribund Michigan program by recruiting Ollie Darden and using him to lure Buntin and Cazzie Russell to Michigan. Their success convinced the school to build Crisler Arena. Played for Oosterbaan in the years bracketing his military service in WWII. Peaked in 1964 (23-5) when he made the Final Four, and 1965 (24-4) when he took the team to the finals and was was named coach of the year. Strack passed away earlier this year.
Thing: Was associate athletic director from 1968-1970 then took the AD job at Arizona, where he hired the first black head coach of a major university, but was also possibly involved in their slush fund scandal in 1980.
Better than a Beilein: His career compares favorably to Beilein's. Both guys oversaw a program renaissance that coincided with modernization of facilities, and both were great recruiters. His peaks were higher, but his lows lower, and many of Strack's accomplishments Beilein looks to best eventually. This one's close.
Johnny Orr (1968-'80)
Career at M: 12 seasons, 209 wins (65%), 2 Big Ten titles
Avg NCAA Tourney: 1.25
All-Americans: Henry Wilmore (1972), Campy Russell (1974), Phil Hubbard (1977), and Rickey Green (1977)
Pros recruited (NBA/ABA games): Green (946), Hubbard (665), Russell(NTR) (566), Mike McGee(520), C.J. Kupec (147), Alan Hardy (60), and Wayman Britt (7). That's 7 players with a combined 2911 games.
Story: Was kind of basketball-Bo if Bo had taken the Texas A&M job. Strack brought in Orr in 1967 after his team finished last in the Big Ten, and Orr took over officially in '69. In 1971 Michigan finished 19-7 and 12-2 in the conference but got left out of the 25-team tourney (getting hosed by the NCAA was kind of an early-'70s Michigan tradition). In '74 Michigan tied Indiana for the conference championship and was a 1 seed in the tournament, losing in the Elite 8 to Marquette. The '75 and '76 teams also made it to the tourney while finishing behind the great Indiana teams, but in '76 the Wolverines made their tourney run, losing to Indiana (badly) in the national championship game. The '77 team won the conference but went out again in the regional final (Elite 8). Michigan dropped back to the pack after that.
Thing: When Iowa State called about his assistant Bill Frieder, and Orr learned what they were planning to pay, Orr took the job himself. Coach Orr passed away last New Year's Eve.
Better than a Beilein: Orr has the most wins of any Michigan basketball coach because of longevity, but Beilein has nearly matched him already in every category.
[to be continued]