Stauskas taking more than hoops from U-M experience

Written by Adam Biggers

 

On Tuesday, John Beilein didn’t play the role of a coach sending off a pair of sophomores to the NBA. No, the patriarch of Michigan of basketball—who sat before a few dozen media members and a live television/online audience—was a father who took advantage of one final appearance to publicly brag about his sons.

They just so happened to announce their decisions to jump into the draft.

Of course, the basketball coach inside of Beilein beamed with great brilliance while he spoke of the accomplishments of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Together, they helped the Wolverines win 59 games, a two-year-program-best streak.

In 2013, they contributed to a national-title run. This past year, they were among a few reasons why some experts thought Michigan could win it all. When clicking together, Stauskas and Robinson III made up one of the top tandems of the Beilein era.

Stauskas won Big Ten Player of the Year honors and is expected to be a mid-first-round-pick. At his peak, Robinson III is a dominant force who can score several ways; he’s expected to be a late-first selection.

Who knows? They may find themselves on a card or cereal box. Or maybe they’ll sign shoe deals and make millions upon millions. But maybe they won’t.

Maybe they’ll play a few years and go onto life—and Beilein wouldn’t mind that at all. In fact, he’d be just as proud of a player-turned-lawyer, -entrepreneur or -educator.

Bidding a farewell—and an early one at that—is never easy. It wasn’t easy saying good-bye to Stauskas and Robinson III, just as it wasn’t easy sending Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, among others, on their ways either.

“It is (very satisfying) when I see some of our other young men who didn’t have this (NBA) opportunity but have opportunities to be school teachers one day, go to Europe and play, get into the business world—it’s the same thing,” Beilein said. “You feel like, you hope that you’re a major part of their lives moving forward and that you had an impact on them.

“That’s what you feel. Then you look at the next group and you say ‘let’s do that again.’”

Beilein doesn’t have a program in Ann Arbor—he has a family, and it grows by a few members every year. This family has a motto: The No. 1 goal is to advance in something.

Period.

And the players appreciate that.

“These coaches have done wonders for me,” Stauskas said. “On and off the court, I've made unbelievable relationships with my teammates and students at my school. I've got a first-class education here. My two years couldn't have gone any smoother than they went. I'm just so happy for everything that I've experienced and I'm really excited to see what these next years in the NBA will bring for me."

Prior to his arrival, Stauskas said that he thought he “knew everything about basketball.” Well, as it turned out, two years with Beilein proved otherwise—Stauskas wasn’t as sharp as he thought he was.

He learned a lot about the game from his coach. But he also learned about life from his basketball dad.

“I can’t thank him enough for it,” he said.

Follow Maize and Blue News contributor Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81. Adam also writes for SB Nation and Bleacher Report.


 
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