The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

December 13, 2012

Beilien, Mountaineers together again

Michigan coach has mixed feelings about facing former team

The last time John Beilein was on the court for a West Virginia University basketball game, he was coaching the Mountaineers to an National Invitation Tournament championship over Clemson.

Saturday, he’ll be on the opposite sideline when his No. 3 Michigan team takes on the Mountaineers at 8 p.m. as part of the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at Barclays Center in New York.

It will be a unique experience for the veteran coach, who said he’s faced off against a former team very few times in his career.

“This is a bit unique, so it’s different in that regard,” said Beilein, who went 104-60 in five seasons at WVU from 2002 through 2007. He took the Mountaineers as far as the Elite Eight in 2005 and won the NIT title in his final season in 2007. “Certainly we wouldn’t be playing this game if I hadn’t approved of this game. But because of the respect I have for West Virginia, Bob Huggins and their program, we’re playing this game.”

Beilein said the decision to leave Morgantown and WVU to go to Michigan, where he’s gone 100-77  over five-plus seasons, was mostly about a chance to rebuild another program, but he said he looks back fondly on his time with the Mountaineers.

“You don’t know how many times I tell (Michigan point guard) Trey Burke what a tough son-of-a-gun J.D. Collins was or some of the things from how Darris Nichols used to play,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever find another (Kevin) Pittsnogle, because he was so unique in his talent.

“We’ve got a guy on the top of our zone right now, a couple guys that play very much like Tyrone Salley and Da’Sean Butler.”

Beilein said he enjoyed watching WVU’s run to the Final Four in 2010, aided by players, like Butler, that he brought to Morgantown.

“I was very happy for West Virginia, for those young men on that team, for the program, the university and the state of West Virginia,” said Beilein. “We had so many friends and so many people who were so good to me and my family during that time, and I was very happy for them. I know the passion there is for that basketball team in that state.

“They made the Beilein family very happy during our five years. There you are coaching your son (Patrick, a guard for the Mountaineers), and he’s out there playing — a walk-on at one time — and they’re embracing your whole family. You can’t help but be happy for them.”

Beilein hopes his own Final Four trip might be just around the corner. His Elite Eight run with WVU was his deepest trip, and he’s never been past the Sweet 16 with the Wolverines. But with one of the nation’s top-ranked teams, currently 9-0 on the year, that could be the year the 59-year-old finally reaches the top of the college basketball mountain.

For once, the underdog Beilein is finally a favorite.

“It’s a difference,” he said of being the hunted instead of the hunter. “I’ve always been very comfortable in the underdog role. But I don’t think I’m uncomfortable with any of the preseason, pre-conference type gossip about who is the best. That’s got to be determined down the road.

“We’re trying every day to get them to understand prosperity and continue to get better.”

— E-mail: chuffman@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • 072414 WV Open.jpg Familiarity with Cobb helps Hess take lead

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Kenny Hess is comfortable playing the Cobb Course at Glade Springs Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Golf and motocross are Jude’s passions

    Motocross and golf have very little in common.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVU’s Worley clear starter at cornerback

    There were few bright spots in West Virginia University’s 4-8 football campaign last year, and even fewer on the defensive side of the football, where the Mountaineers gave up more than 455 yards and 33 points per game.

    July 24, 2014

  • How to discover and love Major League Soccer

    When I began my soccer fandom following a missions trip to Brazil in 2000, I didn’t know what my next step was. I knew I loved watching the game, but there weren’t a lot of options for seeing it in the U.S. I knew of Major League Soccer — mostly from my friend and current FC Dallas beat writer Drew Epperley — but it was hard to find.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holgorsen to appear on ESPN special

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen will appear Wednesday on ESPN’s annual mid-summer college football coaches’ “car wash” — in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 brand Bradshaw or the field?

    If a betting window were set up on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs for the 81st West Virginia Open Championship, which begins at 8 a.m. this morning, the most popular wager would probably be David Bradshaw against the field.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holgorsen: WVU getting comfortable in new league

    Dana Holgorsen remembers the glory days of West Virginia University football — the ones that included conference championships and BCS bowl wins. In fact, he was part of one of those, leading the Mountaineers to a Big East championship and an Orange Bowl victory in his first season as head coach in 2011.

    July 23, 2014

  • 072314 justice Home sweet home away from home

    When Greenbrier owner Jim Justice was handed a copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Sunday, his eyes lit up like a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on a cold December night.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072314 miners Miners take series with Paints

    The way the West Virginia Miners see it, they don’t have the luxury of planning for tomorrow.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp