The University of Michigan is on a somewhat downswing concerning its basketball and football programs. In particular, the men’s basketball team has been trying mightily to find its way back to competing for Big Ten titles.
That task will be even harder in the upcoming campaign considering the loss of the team’s best two players, Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims.
The incoming class features the sons of two former NBA players (Tim Hardaway and Tito Horford) and the younger brother of a current one (Al Horford). The freshmen will be joined by redshirt freshmen Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans who sat out last season as Michigan finished 15-17.
To offset the loss of its two best players, while trying to have a positive impact on the freshmen, University of Michigan head basketball coach John Beilein, has added Detroit native Bacari Alexander, 33, as one of his assistant coaches.
Being a Detroiter, my guess is Alexander will be charged with reconnecting the Wolverines with the Detroit area basketball student/athletes, and bringing more athletes like Harris and Sims to the Ann Arbor campus.
“I think this position is about more than the recruiting piece,” Alexander told me in a phone interview. “Beilein has just signed an extension through 2016 and the new player development center that will be the state of the art.
It is like a new beginning. You need a woo factor the way things are happing in the recruiting process.”
Said Beilein: “He (Alexander) really fits the criteria of a guy that can mentor young men; he is really a teacher. There are guys that know how to coach and there are guys that you have to project in the gym and be a teacher, and that’s what we wanted to see from him.”
The ex-Detroit Southwestern High player is surely qualified as a teacher and coach. He has put work in as a player and coach. In his collegiate playing career, Alexander played two seasons at Robert Morris, where he was named to the Northeast Conference All-Newcomer Team in 1995, before transferring to the University of Detroit where he played for Detroit icon coach Perry Watson.
Alexander comes to Michigan after putting in work over nine years coaching at the Division I level. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Western Michigan (2008-10). Prior to that job he spent one season (2007-08) in the MAC at Ohio. He began his coaching career spending six seasons at his alma mater, the University of Detroit, under head coach Watson.
“I received a phone call from Beilein a few months ago,” Alexander said. “I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. I really did not have any real prior relationship with him. It was like the moon and stars aligned and it was meant to be. This is my dream job.
“Of course I had to go through the interviewing process and present myself as the person that could help this program move forward. I was honest and straightforward and sincere about what I could bring to the process.
Thankfully they chose me.”
Coach Beilein knows in Alexander he’s getting a leader of young men with strong Michigan ties, a teacher with excellent ability to coach post players, and a hard working and honest recruiter, who can help him get the UM program back on track.
“Change is inevitable,” Alexander said. “Now we’ll see what the UM program will be all about. We want to win, but we want to build a foundation and program. We have some exciting young players coming in and we’ve had great spring individual workouts. It will be our job to educate them and coach them up to what our expectations are for them.”
Alexander is under no illusion concerning the task ahead of him and the incoming players. He acknowledged it is a challenge managing 18- to 20-year-olds and molding them into a cohesive unit of student/athletes.
“I’ve been blessed to be around great coaches that I’ve learned from,” he said. “At the end of the day I’m a grassroots guy who is concerned with developing the total person. I’m willing to get out there and work extra hard to help build a winner, and doing it with integrity.”
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the Michigan Chronicle Digital Daily newsletter!