John Beilein is probably having his best coaching season so far for the Michigan Wolverines. Coming into the Nebraska game, Michigan was 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten. Nebraska entered the game 7-0 at home this season.
But Beilein and the Wolverines are producing more than expected at this early stage of the season. That includes a thrilling 71-70 win against the Cornhuskers Thursday night. The Wolverines are 11-4 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, probably better than most NCAA basketball experts expected.
Losing Mitch McGary to back surgery was the first major challenge facing Beilein, who has been able to make the most effective use of the limited roster he has. Winning the Big Ten is probably out of the question since his team isn’t deep enough and the Wolverines will eventually take their lumps. But getting to the NCAA tournament and doing well again in the postseason could still be in the cards.
Beilein and the Wolverines have been able to determine which combinations work well on the floor against different opponents. Beilein, in a recent game against Northwestern, effectively used Spike Albrecht and Derrick Walton together on the court and was able to tell they could make the team better in different ways and take care of the ball.
Beilein might not be considered the best college basketball coach in the state of Michigan, with those honors going to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. But taking the Wolverines to the national title game last season and putting out a good product so far this year, despite the early departure of outstanding players like Trey Burke and losing others to injuries this season, is doing nothing to hurt Beilein’s reputation as a quality basketball skipper.