Niagara Gazette — One of the biggest names in the world of sports these days is John Beilein whose family roots run deep in Niagara County.
As the head basketball coach at the University of Michigan, Beilein and his Wolverines have moved up to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.
Today Michigan will face the University of Kentucky for a coveted berth in the Final Four championship round on April 7 at Indianapolis. Tip-off time for the Wolverines vs. the Wildcats is 5:05 p.m. on CBS-TV (Ch.4).
Although he’d probably be the last to confirm it, Beilein, a native of Newfane, has joined a select group — five active college coaches that have won 700 games. That happened when Michigan beat Texas in the third round of the tourney. If you watched the TV footage from the post-game locker room celebration, you heard Beilen citing the entire team effort. Suddenly, someone presented the game ball to him. In typical fashion, he deflected the credit to others, the staff, players and administration.
“It means you’ve been coaching a long time. It means you’ve got a lot of losses too,” Beilein said, conceding there’s an advantage of being in situations where you’re going to take losses early because you’re a rebuilding program. One observer noted that Michigan had gone 11 years without an NCAA tourney berth. Since Beilein took command of the Wolverines in 2009, he has been 9-4 in the Big Dance. While he’s reticent about his successes, he can no longer fly under the radar, as a Detroit Free Press headline stated.
Close observers of his 36-year career will tell you he has more than earned his stripes, starting at LeMoyne and guiding teams at Canisius College, the University of Richmond. and West Virginia University before heading to Ann Arbor.