Beilein has been gone from West Virginia five full seasons now and his sixth team at Michigan appears to be, by far, his best. The Wolverines are 10-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country.
They aren't doing it with smoke and mirrors, though. There were times at West Virginia when that might have seemed to be the case. He took a group of players who were generally well down on the recruiting lists of others - if they were on those lists at all - and made them into teams that went to a pair of Sweet 16s, came within an overtime of a Final Four and won an NIT.
He seems to have a higher level of talent now at Michigan, although he refuses to make comparisons. He's also gotten away from a strict Princeton offense, although he still loves to throw out that 1-3-1.
But when push comes to shove, he said, "I think our teams [at Michigan] are very similar to what we had [at West Virginia].''
Well, maybe in some instances.
For example, Beilein said he finds himself confusing his Michigan players with his former ones. He couldn't count the times he compared to Michigan's now-graduated Zack Novak to Scott Unger (Richmond) or Johannes Herber or Alex Ruoff (WVU). He compares current point guard Trey Burke with J.D. Collins and Darris Nichols. He compares the long forwards he tends to put at the top of his 1-3-1 zone to Tyrone Sally and Da'Sean Butler.
And every time he thinks about Kevin Pittsnogle . . . well, OK, that's where the comparisons tend to end.
"I don't know if I'll ever find another Pittsnogle,'' Beilein said. "He was so unique.''
The bottom line, though, is that while Beilein still coaches some things just the way he did at West Virginia, he didn't simply take his same act to a new auditorium at Michigan.
"I've changed, but I've changed every year for 37 years,'' Beilein said "Maybe that's why I'm still coaching. Because if you don't embrace that part of it, you're not going to be coaching very long.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.