Number of coaches in this picture still at Michigan: zero. [Bryan Fuller]
Michigan will now have to replace two assistant basketball coaches this offseason. Scout's Brian Snow reports that Billy Donlon, the de facto defensive coordinator, is departing Ann Arbor after one season with the Wolverines to be an assistant at Northwestern, where he has several long-running connections:
According to Scout.com's Brian Snow, assistant Billy Donlon has accepted the position of assistant coach at Big Ten foe Northwestern.
"For me, I think it comes down to, from what I've heard, is that Billy has obviously known Chris Collins for a long time," Snow told The Michigan Insider. "Both grew up in the Chicago area and I don't necessarily know how far back their friendship goes, but they've known each other for a long time. They're very comfortable with each other, [Donlon] is comfortable with Chris, he's comfortable with the area so it's kind of a homecoming for him. He's looking for someone who he has a longstanding relationship with."
Donlon has deep ties to the Chicago area, Wildcats head coach Chris Collins and the Northwestern program. Donlon's father, Billy Donlon Sr., was a longtime assistant for the Wildcats from 1987-94.
Losing Donlon is a serious hit to a team that has some major question marks on defense after DJ Wilson entered the draft early. While Donlon's impact didn't immediately show up in the stats last year, it became apparent as the season wore on and the defense improved dramatically. The most obvious stylistic shift was in Michigan's ability to prevent three-point attempts. They ranked ninth nationally in 3PA/FGA after never finishing higher than 109th under John Beilein, and even that was a bit of an outlier.
We'll see what names emerge as replacement candidates; things have been quiet on that front even after Jeff Meyer took an assistant job under LaVall Jordan at Butler, and now there's another seat to fill. Here's hoping some of Donlon's teaching sticks regardless, as Michigan's best chance of being a decent defensive team next year is to continue creating a three-point gap.