Patrick Beilein, former West Virginia University basketball player and son of University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein, is set to make his head coaching debut with West Virginia Wesleyan.
When I interviewed Beilein, the first thing I asked him was what fueled his decision to apply for the head coaching position at West Virginia Wesleyan. “The number one thing was coming back to West Virginia,” he told me. “It’s a state my family has always loved.”
“The campus at West Virginia Wesleyan is beautiful,” Beilein added. “Being a head coach at the young age of 29 is a big learning experience. I’m going to learn so much in the position. Probably more bad than good, but that will help me in the long run.”
Beilein and the team have jumped right into preparing for the season. “I like to stay low-key so we didn’t do a Midnight Madness,” he said. “I want to come in and build a good foundation and build from the ground up.”
“We’re about a week and a half in and I like what I see offensively and defensively,” said Beilein. “We have a lot of hard working kids that want to learn. It makes the job fun every day.”
Basketball fans remember Beilein from his time as a Mountaineer—playing under the coaching of his father. From 2002-06, he scored over 1,000 points and helped the Mountaineers make it to the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight.
When I asked Beilein how his experience on the court translated to the coaching side of the game, he said “I always felt that, as a player, I was somewhat of a coach on the court.”
“I’m not the most athletic player so I had to think through the game to outsmart the opponent,” Beilein expanded. “I’m going to help these guys think through the game."
Beilein also explained that basketball fundamentals are something he plans to teach his players. “I played the game fundamentally to be successful,” Beilein said. “The importance of fundamentals is something my dad really stressed.”
I asked Beilein to detail the similarities and differences between his coaching style and his father’s. “It’s probably about 99 percent similar whether it’s on the recruiting side or on the court,” Beilein said. “We recruit players that work with our system."
“On the court, we’re both teachers,” Beilein continued. “We don’t yell. We make the kids want to play for us.”
Beilein said that working as a graduate assistant under his father was similar to working under him as a player. “The only different part was seeing behind the scenes how much prep work he puts into the game,” said Beilein. “He’s a student of the game and wants to learn something about the game every day.”
Beilein also spoke of his time as an assistant coach at Dartmouth and as a director of operations at Bradley. He noted that one of the best benefits of those experiences was simply working for other people.
“The recruiting aspect is a broader area,” he said. “You’re targeting very smart students at Dartmouth. I did behind the scenes work at Bradley—things like booking hotels and planning meals.”
“The director of operations job helped me most for this job because I learned to plan for the team and learned from other coaches,” Beilein added. “I learned different styles that I can incorporate into my style.”
The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats open the 2012-13 season at home against Shenandoah.