Former West Virginia head coach John Beilein will face his old squad for the first time since leaving to coach Michigan. In some ways, his teams are similar to what he had at WVU, but in others, the 10-0 Wolverines are very different.
The West Virginia Mountaineers will play against former coach John Beilein Saturday night for the first time since he took the head coaching job at Michigan in 2007.
There won't be any awkward reunions during the game, as obviously none of the players Beilein coached at West Virginia remains more than five years later. But, as Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail writes, there are a lot of similarities -- and a few differences -- between Beilein's old and new teams:
Beilein said they won't notice much of a difference. Even he can blend the two experiences. When Beilein coached shooting guard Zack Novak at Michigan, he'd slip and call him Johannes because Novak reminded Beilein so much of former WVU guard Johannes Herber.
"With our point guard play, you don't know how many times I tell Trey Burke what a tough son-of-a-gun J.D. Collins was or how Darris Nichols used to play for us," Beilein said. "I don't know if we'll ever find another Kevin Pittsnogle because he was so unique in his talent, but we've got guys at the top of our zone right now who play very much like a Tyrone Sally or a Da'Sean Butler."
The coach still runs a 1-3-1 zone, although he might not opt to use it against a Bob Huggins-coached team also familiar with the set.
Beilein also spoke to MLive.com about his decision to leave the Mountaineers for the Wolverines, but said he had no plans to ever leave Michigan:
"The big things I said way back then, there was an opportunity to go to the University of Michigan and it was a great opportunity," Beilein said during a conference call Wednesday. "But I also cherished what I had at West Virginia, and sometimes you can't have both.
"I love rebuilding programs, (I wanted to) do one more. And the University of Michigan ended up being that choice."
Saying Beilein has rebuilt Michigan is an understatement: he took over a team that hadn't made an NCAA Tournament in 11 years -- more than that, if factoring that several of the team's tourney appearances were vacated due to scandals shortly after the Fab Five era of Michigan basketball -- and went dancing in his second year.
The Wolverines have made the tournament five times in his three seasons as coach, and are currently No. 3 in the country, sitting at 10-0 thanks to a squad starring point guard Trey Burke, freakishly athletic wings Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, and freshman gunner Nik Stauskas.