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June 11, 2010

Beilein: New staff potentially special

Michigan coach John Beilein has undergone complete staff turnover, culminating with the recent hiring of LaVall Jordan to replace Mike Jackson (now at Purdue). Beilein said he's thrilled with the make-up of the new staff and excited to see what they can accomplish over the next several years.

"We went through this process before [in April]. I sat there after interviewing both [recently hired assistant] Bacari [Alexander] and LaVall and I virtually couldn't make up my mind for about two days," said Beilein. "Finally I just said, 'big man coach' [Alexander] - although I felt [Jordan] could do this, I wanted that situation where a guy with Michigan roots could coach big men.

"But I thought at that time if ever I am going to need a perimeter coach, this would be a guy I'd look to. We are really pleased to have him on board."

Beilein didn't call Jordan, recently hired by Western Michigan, because WMU head coach Steve Hawkins refused to grant permission. When Jordan got wind of the opening, however, he immediately spoke to Hawkins and reached out to Beilein.

"When I walked away before, I left wanting that opportunity to happen," said Jordan. "When I found out there was an opportunity again, after some thought, I made a decision, and I'm very excited about the future.

"Things happen for a reason. One thing none of us can control is timing … but it was a great opportunity."

Beilein indicated he'd reached out to Hawkins with a phone call, but didn't get in touch. He said he'd try again today in attempt to clear up any misunderstandings.

Jordan should prove to be an outstanding hire, considered one of the up-and-comers in the profession. The former Butler guard worked with Todd Lickliter at both Butler and Iowa and earned a reputation as a tireless recruiter, HawkeyeReport.com's Tom Kakert shared weeks earlier, and an outstanding and respected young coach with ties to coaches and programs in Michigan and Indiana, among others.

The Albion (Mich.) native also grew up following the maize and blue.

"I was born in 1979, so 10 years later when I started to watch and pay attention to basketball, Michigan - in my hometown -- was where you looked," he said. "Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson and going forward. I'm as excited as a kid in a candy story right now."

Jordan and assistant coach Jeff Meyer coached together for a year at Butler and have kept in contact ever since, easing the transition.

"People make places," said Jordan. "Through the process, I've gotten to know Coach Beilein very well. I knew Jeff, knew Bacari and had a relationship there, knew [director of operations] Brian [Townsend].

"When I came out of the process the first time around, I walked away saying to myself, 'I hope that happens for me.' I'd love to be there. It would be great, because I know they are great guys and I love the way they do things. I also obviously believe in Michigan as a university and the athletic program on the whole. The people had a lot to do with my excitement."

Beilein didn't plan on a complete overhaul, but he's pleased with the end result.

"Thank goodness we've been able to do this one at a time," he said. "With Bacari, we've had a month to catch him up to speed on recruiting. Jeff was doing it at the end of this year, so it's not like three at one time.

"I don't think we've settled on who's recruiting everywhere right now, but I love the makeup of this staff, both for recruiting and the way they are teachers, mentors. This is really going to be a good staff … this one has a chance to be really special."

Notebook

• Beilein hasn't heard too much about conference expansion news, but he's as interested as the rest of the country. To borrow a phrase from Rich Rodriguez, it's not his first rodeo.

"I know very little about it right now other than just watching with great interest because I've lived this before," he said. "I've been on the edge where the Big East looked like it was going to its demise, and all of a sudden rebounded greatly with a new structure.

"It's very interesting, because I don't think anybody knows how it will play out. A few people may know, but most of us don't know. The coaches that have so much involved in this really don't know some of the teams they will be coaching against in the years to come."

Athletic Director David Brandon hasn't provided Beilein with details - only that "it's interesting," and there appears to be major movement.

• Jordan was the Michigan scout when the Wolverines played Iowa. U-M has had great success against the Hawkeyes under Beilein.

"Don't hold that against me," Jordan quipped. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

"Having played against him, I have a great deal respect for Coach Beilein and his teams, the way they play and maybe even more so the way he does things and runs a program. That's something I love the opportunity to be part of."


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