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Posted on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

John Beilein comments on attrition, says it's all 'part of the game'

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan basketball coach John Beilein answers questions from the media during a press conference at the Crisler Center on Monday.

Melanie Maxwell I

John Beilein is getting used to spring uncertainty.

Each of the past three seasons, the Michigan basketball coach has watched underclassmen explore the idea of leaving school early for the NBA (he has a 1-for-3 return-rate now, by the way).

This year, Beilein watched as three players -- Evan Smotrycz, Carlton Brundidge and Colton Christian -- opted to leave his program last month in search of transfers.

Is he worried? Not really.

Is he surprised? Not at all.

“Nothing surprises me,” Beilein said Monday after freshman point guard Trey Burke announced he would return to Michigan for his sophomore season. “When you get to the end of the year, and even through the season, there’s all kinds of things that go on.

“This is what we do. We’re dealing with 18-, 19- and 20-year-old young men. You can expect anything every day. And that’s what makes it so exciting, actually.”

Beilein wouldn’t get into specifics on why Smotrycz, Brundidge or Christian chose to leave his program.

He said he meets with his entire roster at the close of every season to assess their situation. Sometimes those meetings lead to attrition, something he says is “part of the game.”

“We meet with them and if transfers are going to happen, we don’t want them to happen in June or July or August when we can’t get anyone in their place,” he said. “We have heart-to-heart talks with them, want everyone to stay, but we expect everyone is going to leave for different reasons and that’s part of the game.”

“I heard a stat (at the Final Four) that 40 percent of those that reach the end of their sophomore year in, I think it was BCS conferences, transfer or go pro. We just have to end up going through it and planning for change. Change sometimes is good, change sometimes is bad. But you (have to plan for it).”

As far as the NBA situation goes, Beilein says the threat of players leaving early for a professional career is something that comes with the territory when you recruit elite talent.

Burke chose to return, but was projected to be a second-round pick had he left, and may likely be projected as a first-rounder next season. Tim Hardaway Jr. may also be in that boat.

Michigan has signed five-star players in Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary that could also be tempted to leave school early.

College basketball has become a high-risk, high-reward game, and it’s something Beilein says he has no control over.

“It’s something you have to (prepare for),” he said. “In football, it goes with injuries, guys have to stay three years, you get 85 scholarships -- (players leaving early) really impacts how you look at the future.

“You have to continue to recruit, knowing that if you’re recruiting really good players, this is always an option.”

During Burke’s decision-making process, Michigan netted a point guard insurance policy in the form of Northfield North Hermon (Mass.) commit Spike Albrecht, who can sign a letter of intent Wednesday.

Beilein said some of his recent recruiting ventures have hinged on Burke’s decision, and now that he’s made his choice, Michigan can move forward with a better plan of attack.

The Wolverines have two scholarships remaining for 2012-13. Asked if he’s done recruiting for next season, Beilein said “nothing’s really closed, you just keep going.” reported Monday night that Italian-born combo guard Amedeo Della Valle has planned a visit to Ann Arbor for the upcoming weekend.

There have been transfers, one addition and an NBA scare.

And through it all, Beilein's team currently sits as a potential Final Four contender, on paper at least.

The offseason isn't a month old, but it's already seen plenty of action.

“You can’t stop looking at what you may have and what you might have one or two years from now," Beilein said. "You (may) lose people along the way because you have to make decisions.

“You can’t have too many scholarships in one year because you may not have enough. You look at it, and weigh your options for the future.”

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 3:23 a.m.

I am so glad Trey Burke is back, it may have just saved coaches job. Trey is very talented I hope he puts everything aside play well again. His time will come. Trey is like a quiet storm. gets the job done. We will have a great team again next year. For the seniors who are graduating good luck to you all.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:26 p.m.

Maybe! Probably need to look into a mirror and repeat this statement of acceptable attrition 3 times and see if it still makes sense. Talent leaves for many reasons including leaving a poor leader. Much to think about here.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

Beilein is such a great bluffer. His program would have been in shambles if Trey had left. He can't use the young team excuse any more since freshman Trey carried his team last year. Evan's departure can only be understood as a rejection of the Beilein system. The system was designed for players with Evan's talents. The team has never had depth or a viable inside game. We'll see what McGary brings. As far as the other "bigs" there is not a legitimate center among them. There's one power foward and the rest are small forwards (by Big 10 Standards). I don't think the team is poised to compete at a national level or even win the Big 10 next year.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

Attrition is not acceptable when it contributes to a low graduation rate. While other programs have success on the court and with the overall graduation rate (i.e., Notre Dame), Michigan's hoops program has had one of the lower rates: "The men's and women's basketball programs — at 36 and 53 percent GSR graduation rates, respectively — are each the men's and women's sport with the lowest graduation rate at the University. Both programs also have the lowest graduation rate in the Big Ten in their respective sports." See:

Scott Laux

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

That's like saying "rain is not acceptable on the weekends".


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:43 p.m.

Ridiculous. Graduation rates have NOTHING to do with anything. It is that feel good number for those who do not look at facts. If a player has the ability and desire to play in the NBA, why shouldn't they take that opportunity while they have the chance. You can get a college education in your 40's, you can NOT try out for the NBA in your 40's I applaud kids who choose to live their dreams. Jalen Rose left early. Juwan Howard did, Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, Michael Jordan. I guess graduation rates were hurt due to them going pro. Oh well, I would say all were a success at their chosen profession. For the record, Tiger Woods, left Stanford early too.

larry kramer

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1 p.m.

I wonder how Coach-K and coach Izzo manage to keep their players for four years.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

Check your facts. Izzo does NOT keep his players, and either does Coach K Here are a list of Duke players who did not complete four years and went to the NBA 2011 Austin Rivers 2009 Gerald Henderson 2007 - Josh McRoberts 2005 - Shavlik Randolph 2002- Carlos Boozer, Jay Dunleavy Jr., & Jay Williams 1999- Elton Brand, William Avery, Corey Maggette Others transfer as well Want to see the MSU list of transfers recently? Korie Lucious Garrick Sherman Chris Allen There was also another guy wh played there in 1979. He left early for the NBA. He had an ok career. His name was Magic Johnson. North Carolina had a decent guy who you might have heard of leave early as well. Michael Jordan. Another couple of guys never went to college, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Is your position that they woud be better off going to school? Just one more aside, Steve jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates all left college early to pursue their dreams. They probably did not amount to much in this world now did they


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

Shackles and chains.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

They don't. You must have missed Austin Rivers going pro this year. Irving went pro last year. There's been many others for Duke. State has had their share as well. Know the facts, Larry.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

That's actually a very good question...


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

So, these elite kids are not here for the education? Maybe the scholarships should go to students who want to learn.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

You mean the scholarships paid by the Athletic Department's income?


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:58 a.m.

Beilein is a good coach and attrition for reasons mentioned here is a good problem to have.. thanks coach!


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:44 a.m.

"We have heart-to-heart talks with them, want everyone to stay, but we expect everyone is going to leave for different reasons and that's part of the game." It would have been interesting to hear the meeting with Evan Smotrycz that led him to transfer. My guess is that they asked him to do some things he really didn't want to do for whatever reason. I can't believe his decision had anything to do with playing time - he would almost certainly be a starter next season. With such small roster sizes though, it is a real challenge for coaches to try and replace 2 guys for example when the pool of available talent is pretty small.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

I don't think he was even guaranteed 20 mins/game. He had 21 mins/game last year. With Jon Horford getting healthy, Max Biefeldt becoming eligible after a redshirt year, and the incoming freshmen forwards in Robinson III and McGrary, there was a good chance Smotrycz was squeezed out of some playing time. Just from watching games and his body language, he didn't seem to take coaching too well. He was always shrugging and talking back to coaches and players alike. I hope he finds his way, both in life and on the basketball court. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pop up at a mid-major where he can be the focal point of an offense. He's skilled enough to give fits to mid-major forwards.