Niagara Gazette

Sports

April 8, 2013

BEILEIN'S BACKERS

WNY watches as Newfane native coaches in NCAA Men's Final

Niagara Gazette — Beilein country is blooming, even with its native son drawing so many supporters to basketball’s biggest event.

Third-generation relatives of Michigan coach John Beilein shot baskets Saturday night out back from the same farmhouse on Lake Road in rural Burt that Beilein and his eight siblings grew up in.

The Wolverines’ Final Four victory over Syracuse was projected from an iPad onto the side of the house, now owned by Beilein’s niece, Sarah, and her husband, Mike Cappen. TVs were tucked into every available space inside. More than 40 family and friends gathered to watch “Uncle John” lead his team to tonight’s national championship game. A bonfire roared. The group roared louder.

The backyard “mud court,” as Tom Beilein described it, has been paved over. A modern hoop with glass backboards has been installed. But the old iron John spent every spare hour shooting at still hangs from a big tree.

“It almost brought me to tears having the family together in that spot in Burt, New York, rooting for my uncle,” said Bill Beilein, Sarah’s brother and the coach at nearby Niagara County Community College.

“I was in awe. It was just perfect, the atmosphere, the third generation of Beileins cheering just as loud as the first.”

The party will continue tonight in Burt, while Bill Beilein joins the growing contingent in Atlanta.

“I have eight brothers and sisters, big family,” John Beilein told reporters Sunday in Atlanta. “I was fortunate enough to go to a pretty good high school. The bonds that were formed between those guys and my family, all my 44 nieces and nephews, 22 just on my side, with those nine kids. So many people that have followed this career, whether they went to West Virginia games, Richmond games. Every year there has been a bus … 45 people from Lockport, from Danny Sheehan’s Steakhouse would come to a game every year.”

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