For tonight's exhibition game at Michigan, it's a Beilein family affair
Le Moyne College plays an exhibition game on Friday at Michigan, the real story is that the game will pit father against son as Michigan coach John Beilein hosts his son, Le Moyne coach Patrick Beilein. Tonight, it’s all about family with a little basketball mixed in.
John Beilein is the venerable Wolverines coach who has restored luster to a proud program by engineering five NCAA trips and two Big Ten crowns in eight seasons in Ann Arbor. Son Patrick? He’s less accomplished, as he enters his first season at Le Moyne, a Catholic school in Syracuse N.Y. Now, they will square off in Crisler Center in a game concocted by dad shortly after son got the Le Moyne job in June.
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“This is a great opportunity for Le Moyne College basketball to play a program like the University of Michigan,” said Patrick after the exhibition was announced. “It will be a special moment coaching against my dad and his team. The exposure, experience and the level of competition is a win-win for our program and the College this season and in the future.”
Father facing son isn’t unique. Bobby Bowden battled son Terry nine times when they were at Florida State and Clemson, respectively. Dad won the series, 5-4. And more recently, Louisville’s Rick Pitino took on son Richard of Minnesota last November—and beat him. Now, you can add the Beileins to the list. And, like the Bowden and Pitino affairs, expect dad to come out on top in this one, too.
Le Moyne, a Division II school, is where it all began for John. He led the Dolphins from 1983-92, compiling a 163-94 mark in nine seasons and earning a spot in the school’s hall of fame. This is where John earned his coaching chops after breaking into the business with one season at Nazareth in 1982-83.
So, in some ways, it’s fitting this is where 32-year-old Patrick will continue to chart out his career. Patrick was there with his dad on the Le Moyne sideline back in the 1980s as a water boy. Hey, you have to start somewhere. Between squirts of water and collecting sweaty towels, Patrick began his basketball education that continues today. But now, Dad will be at the other end of the sideline on the opposite end of the court. Dan knows exactly how Son feels starting out at the bottom.
From tiny Le Moyne, John matriculated to Canisius for five seasons, then to Richmond for five, then to West Virginia for five more. He was steadily working his way up the coaching food chain before landing at Michigan. It was at West Virginia where Patrick was a heady point guard for his father and became a captain as a senior, notching 1,001 career points and setting the school’s all-time mark for 3-pointers made with 242. Patrick had astute court vision and deft passing ability. He was the classic coach’s kid who soaked in every X and O from his father.
After a two-year pro career overseas, Patrick hooked on for more education with his father … this time at Michigan in 2008 as a graduate assistant for two seasons. Patrick also spent a season as director of basketball operations at Bradley and as an assistant at Dartmouth before becoming head coach at West Virginia Wesleyan for two years and going 32-27. He then worked in the NBA with the Jazz as a player development coach before landing at Le Moyne this summer.
“Patrick has been a student of the game since he first picked up a basketball. Since Patrick stopped playing, he has developed his own coaching identity and philosophy,” said John after Patrick got the job. “I look forward to seeing him use his teaching and coaching skills as he and his staff represents Le Moyne College and its men’s basketball program for many years to come.”
Since arriving in Ann Arbor in 2007-08, John Beilein has built Michigan into a Big Ten power. In 2013-14, he led the Wolverines to their first outright Big Ten title since 1985-86. The year before, Beilein, 62, took Michigan to the national championship game. This year’s Wolverine squad looks primed to rebound from a 16-16 season that saw Michigan miss the Big Dance for just the third time in Beilein’s eight seasons. And he’ll get to tune up vs. his son. The outcome may not be memorable—but the event will be for the Beileins.
“The opportunity to coach against my dad is something that I’ll try to take a step back and appreciate during the handshake at the beginning of the game,” said Patrick this summer. “Not many father-son combinations have that opportunity.
“You never know if you’re going to have another opportunity to coach against your dad. I’m going to take a step back and enjoy it, maybe half a second. But then we’re going to get pretty competitive and go at each other.”