This is the second in a series of profiles of potential candidates for Indiana’s vacant basketball head coaching position.
Candidate: John Beilein
Current position: Big Ten Network analyst
Previous Jobs: Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, 2019-20; Michigan head coach 2007-19, West Virginia head coach 2002-07; Richmond head coach 1997-2002; Canisius head coach 1992-97.
Career Accomplishments: 754 wins as a college head coach. Has coached in 13 NCAA Tournaments. Went 278-150 and 126-92 in Big Ten play in 12 years at Michigan. Took Michigan to five Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights and two national title games, losing to Louisville in 2013 and Villanova in 2018. Took West Virginia to two Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight.
Statistical Hallmarks: In Beilein’s last nine years at Michigan his teams never finished worse than ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They were in the top 30 six times, the top five three times, and had the most efficient offense in the country in 2013. On defense, ranked in the top 100 in every year but his first season. They never finished better than 37th until the 2017-18 season but finished third that year and then second in 2018-19. He put five Michigan teams in the top 25 in effective field goal percentage and three in the top 30 in 3-point field goal percentage. His reliance on the 3-pointer subsided some in his later years at Michigan, but at West Virginia his last three teams finished in the top 10 in 3-point attempts as percentage of total field goal attempts and four of his first five Michigan teams finished in the top 15. The Wolverines were in the top 20 in that category in 2015-16 and 2016-17 but were 143rd in his final season.
Why it might work: Beilein has already established he can win in the Big Ten and he can recruit in the region. His offense might not still be cutting edge exactly, but he was ahead of the curve at West Virginia and simply adjusted to his personnel at Michigan. He likes to play a wide-open style and utilize the 3-point shot, which is a big part of the modern game in the NBA and increasingly in college. He’s proven it can be a good fit with Indiana kids, as he stole several of them especially early in his rebuilding period at Michigan, including Glenn Robinson III, Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, Mitch McGary and Spike Albrecht.
Beilein could also be a good fit because he’ll come to Bloomington with the confidence of an established winner who has already created a solid legacy independent of whatever would happen at Indiana. He won’t have to coach desperate as if it’s his only chance to break into and stay in the big time. If it doesn’t work out, he can just ride off into the sunset. If it does it’s another feather in his cap.
Why it might not work/might not happen: First, Beilein has to decide he wants to coach again, which is no guarantee considering he’s had a season to get used to the cushy life of a studio analyst. He doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t need the headaches. He has to decide he wants the stress of another rebuilding project, and at his age he can easily decide he does not.
And if the Hoosiers do hire Beilein, it’s not a long-term solution. That doesn’t make it a non-starter and a 5-10 year program resuscitation might be worth the investment. But still, hiring Beilein now means knowing that they’ll almost certainly have to look elsewhere within a decade. The Hoosiers could obviously consider bringing in a coach-in-waiting with him, but it’s not obvious who that would be. His son Patrick was hired at Niagara in 2019 but had to resign before the season, handing the job over to former Duke point guard Greg Paulus.
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier