Under John Beilein, Amateurism wins out

With all the outrage and drama surrounding the Brady Hoke-Dave Brandon Michigan football debacle, it’s time we took a look at another big-time Michigan athletic team that never seems to garner national headlines, yet always seems to do things right: The Michigan basketball team. Tip-off is in a month, the team just had their first week of practice, and Coach John Beilein is putting his plans in place on how this team can reach its third straight Elite Eight. Coach Beilein is not flashy or outspoken like some of his coaching counterparts, yet come March and its inevitable madness, he always has his team ready to go.

In this day and age of the NBA, with multi-billion dollar television deals and a growing global fan base, combined with the implosion of the NFL this year, the NBA is more popular than ever. As you may have heard, LeBron is coming home, and with him he is bringing newfound intrigue to professional basketball. It’s no wonder, due to the immense popularity of this league that Michigan basketball has had multiple players leave school early for the NBA draft. In fact, in the seven seasons with Beilein at the helm, he has had seven players leave school early to enter the NBA draft. And yet every year, no matter who leaves, Beilein always seems to reload and be ready for the next year. Take the 2012-2013 season. Beilein, along with Trey Burke, the Big Ten player of the Year, and Tim Hardaway Jr., led the Wolverines to the National Championship Game. Both of those players left school early to enter the draft, and last year, the Wolverines were still one shot away from advancing to a second straight Final Four.

With LeBron returning to the Cavs, this year in the NBA is sure to be fun

Drawing from Eric Dunning (Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure), we see that in our culture, the rise of professionalism has led to an increase in popularity in sports. According to Dunning, “sport is becoming… one of the central, if not the central, sources of identification, meaning, and gratification in our lives.” We see this with the ratings professional sports are getting these days. We also see this in college basketball, an amateur sport, which as a whole, Dunning says are also increasing in popularity. Even though more and more college athletes are leaving early for the glamour of professionalism, college basketball is still doing well. And though some coaches note that they don’t care if their players leave early for the NBA, at Michigan, John Beilein has developed the right system. Beilein continues to reload each year despite losing NBA-quality talent. This year promises to be no different. With the losses of Glen Robinson III, Mitch McGary, and star Nik Stauskas, who all were drafted to the NBA this past year, Michigan might look like they’re entering a rebuilding year. Coach Beilein, however, is great at making the most of what he has, and I think this year will be no different. Instead of looking for star recruits, Beilein looks for players that will fit his system and make the best team. This year, behind Caris Levert, Zack Irvin, Derrick Walton Jr., and Spike Albrecht, this team looks promising. Despite Dunning’s theories and the rise of professionalism and the lure of the NBA, the Michigan basketball team consistently plays at a high level, and this season should be no exception.

–Natan Gorod

Spike Albrecht is ready to lead the Wolverines to the top of the Big 10


One thought on “Under John Beilein, Amateurism wins out

  1. Natan,

    I think your blog post is very good. It is thoughtful, and ties a reading to a Michigan athletic program that has become lost behind the negative press that has surrounded the football team.

    With that said, I believe you could have dug a little bit deeper. Particularly, I think you could have gone into a bit more depth with how Beilein succeeds and what he does. Sure, you mentioned he does a good job developing unheralded recruits, but how does he do that? Also, how does this aspect relate to Dunning’s reading, if at all?

    Also, I think there’s potential in here to focus on Beilein’s approach to recruiting players. Do you think part of his success developing players to become NBA-quality players comes from recruiting certain types of players or people?

    Lastly, the connection to professionalism and the NBA makes a lot of sense given the situation, but I am a bit confused as to why you brought up LeBron James in the article. As a Cavs fan, I love LeBron, but I am confused as to what his going home to Cleveland has to do with Michigan basketball players going pro.

    With that all said, this post was still very good and informative!


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