RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - John Beilein has been successful coaching at every level, from high school junior varsity all the way up to Power 5 Division I. Now he’ll take his shot at the one level he has yet to attempt.
Beilein was announced as the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, giving him his first NBA gig at 66 years old. He’s certainly come a long way since his days roaming the bench at the Robins Center.
From 1997-2002, Beilein guided the Spiders to five winning seasons, a CAA championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance. He took a struggling program and immediately made an impact, as Richmond won the league title and earned a berth in the big dance during Beilein’s first season. As a 14th seed, the Spiders would upset 3rd seeded South Carolina.
“None of us really even knew how to pronounce his name, let along whether he was a good guy or a good coach,” Bob Black, the voice of the Spiders, recalled from Beilein’s hiring. “It became quickly apparent that we knew how to pronounce his name, and he was a good guy and a good coach. You got what you saw from John Beilein- very loyal, very dedicated, very down to earth, very well-spoken, very intelligent- loved his players and loved the program.”
From Richmond, Beilein would make a move to West Virginia in 2002, where he led the Mountaineers to two NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT championship. He spent the last 12 seasons as the head coach at Michigan, where he reached two national championship games and won back-to-back Big Ten Tournament titles.
Now he makes the jump to the NBA, where he’ll take aim at success on an entirely different level.
“I do think the recruiting trail was beginning to wear on him. He is 66 years old, so I don’t think he was as enamored by having to be on the road, and understandably so, recruiting” said Black. “The trade off for that is now you’re dealing with multi-million dollar athletes who, quite frankly, have, and probably deserve to have, somewhat of an ego and I think that’s what he now has to handle.”
Black, however, isn’t worried about the head coach’s ability to do that.
“He has the personality, he has the touch, he has the make-up to identify what will push what buttons with what players, and I do think this is going to be his team pretty quickly.”
ESPN is reporting that Beilein is signing a five year deal with the Cavaliers.
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