South Carolina's Frank Martin: Beilein Doesn't Get Enough Credit For His Player Development

South Carolina's Frank Martin: Beilein Doesn't Get Enough Credit For His Player Development

Basketball

South Carolina's Frank Martin: Beilein Doesn't Get Enough Credit For His Player Development

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – You can call it the Michigan difference, and it’s not too far off from how the school itself sells it.

Those who enroll at the University of Michigan are expected to compete, while exemplifying high values — being the leaders and best in whichever field they enter. That idiom often finds itself attributed to the sports teams — which makes sense, considering the fight song, The Victors, has those same words in the chorus.

But sometimes, it takes a minute to get there. To achieve at the level of expectation.

This Michigan basketball team under head coach John Beilein has gotten to that point more often than not. It’s won back-to-back Big Ten Tournaments, has made two Final Four and national championship game appearances in Beilein’s 11 year tenure. And given some of the rosters he’s had, those feats are impressive on their own.

But what’s even more impressive is his level of developing players.

Michigan is currently 10-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country, but Beilein’s teams are known more for starting slow and peaking late. While we won’t know until down the road whether or not this team will be a force in March like some of his previous squadrons, we have seen many of the players who seemed to be afterthoughts turn into stars.

Two years ago, center Jon Teske was a backup to emerging middle-man Moe Wagner, but Teske seemed to lack that killer instinct. Then, point guard Zavier Simpson was seen as the heir apparent to then-floor general Derrick Walton Jr., but the next year, he wasn’t a lock for the started job, as freshman Eli Brooks and grad transfer Jaaron Simmons looked to have equal-to-more upside. Before the 2017-18 season, Beilein cautioned about how not-ready first-year shooting guard Jordan Poole was to play meaningful basketball.

But, all three, throughout the course of the previous season came into their own, and now, they’re all putting exclamation points on it.

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin has seen it himself. Poole wasn’t a player that was on the roster two years ago, the last time the Wolverines and Gamecocks played, but Martin was familiar with his repertoire.

Asked about how Poole has emerged as a true playmaker for the Wolverines — the second-year guard scored a career-high 26 points against South Carolina — Martin couldn’t help but marvel about the other players who have come about alongside him.

To that note, Martin says that Beilein doesn’t get the credit he should for taking players that look green and turning them into stars in his system.

“He’s good,” Martin said of Jordan Poole. “I saw him a lot in high school. He’s a real good player. He’s what we call a ‘hard shot maker.’

“I don’t think the coach gets the credit he deserves for the way his players develop. They all speak about his offense, because it is a machine, the way they play offense. But, the growth of players.

“I grabbed (point guard Zavier) Simpson yesterday when we got here for our practice. He was shooting around and I grabbed him. I said, ‘Listen, man: I was watching our film from two years ago – you and (center Jon) Teske were like two little kids. I was watching the film, and now I’m watching you guys play, and you guys are unbelievable in how much better you guys are and how different you look.

“John does an unbelievable job of making his players better during their career. And I think you’ve seen that with the guys that have come through here that have gone on to play in the NBA and continue to grow once they get there.”

He continued on Poole, and how the second-year player has emerged recently:

“Poole’s gonna be a phenomenal player. He makes the easy shots and he makes the hard shots. Those are the guys that are hard to guard.”

Time will tell who the next players will be to emerge. Beilein says that freshman point guard David DeJulius will be needed later in the season. First-year forward Ignas Brazdeikis already leads the team in scoring through ten games. Forward Brandon Johns, as seen in open practices and warmups, shows an assertiveness that Teske once lacked until late in the season a year ago.

But one thing is for certain: so long as John Beilein is running the ship in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines will be a force to contend with. Because he truly knows how to turn his young players into champions, and into the leaders and best once he gets done with them.

Follow @WolverinesWire / @IsaiahHole

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