Young Beilein following dad’s lead

WEST LIBERTY – Patrick Beilein was a busy man Thursday night at West Liberty University’s ASRC.

And that was an hour before his West Virginia Wesleyan men’s basketball team tangled with No. 6-ranked West Liberty.

Seated high above courtside near the Bobcats’ locker room, Beilein spent quite a bit of time chatting with fans, well-wishers, etc. It’s understandable as Beilein is a revered name in the Mountain State.

Patrick Beilein was a member of four ultra-successful West Virginia University squads in the mid 2000s coached by his dad, John. Two of those teams reached the NCAA Tournament, with the 2005 squad reaching the Elite Eight.

The elder Beilein, who played collegiately at what is now Wheeling Jesuit, might have taken his coaching expertise to the University of Michigan in 2007, but Patrick is quickly carving his own coaching niche in the state his dad once toiled.

Patrick Beilein is in the midst of orchestrating one of the top turnarounds in the Mountain East Conference. Following Thursday’s action, the Bobcats stood at 17-10 overall, already a five-game improvement over their win total from his first season a year ago.

”We have a great team concept,” he said. ”Our team chemistry has really exceeded expectations. The guys know their roles and have bought into everything we’re doing.

”We don’t have the best talent in the world, but we maximize what we have to fullest.”

That’s taking a page out of his dad’s book.

Anyone who thinks Patrick got the Wesleyan job just because his name is Beilein is mistaken. Sure, it’s catchy on a resume, but he knows basketball. He’s paid his dues.

After graduating from WVU, Patrick played overseas in Holland and Ireland for two years. Upon returning stateside, he spent two seasons as a grad assistant for his dad in Ann Arbor before taking an assistants job at Dartmouth. After that, he served as Director of Basketball Ops at Bradley.

When the opportunity arose to return to West Virginia and become a head coach it was a match that was too good to pass up.

”What a great town Buckhannon is,” Beilein said. ”The staff, the faculty there is great and it’s a great campus. I couldn’t be happier.”

As a first-year head coach, there was a learning curve, and his players went along for the ride, too. Now, they’re all on the same page and enjoying the success together.

And in some small way, John Beilein has contributed, as well.

”I want to be my own guy, but I can’t ignore the way he’s built programs and cultures,” Patrick said. ”If you can teach kids values off the court it will translate to values on it.”

Patrick said he talks or texts with his dad about three times a week. He gets advice, if he seeks it. And, every now and then, he’ll get a tip on a hot player from Southeast Michigan his dad might know about.

”Recruiting the type of kids to fit your system is one of the biggest challenges,” Beilein said. ”There are so many good players out there. It’s a challenge to find the right kids for your program You can’t miss on too many kids or you’ll have a down year.”

Recruiting the right types of players is one of the things Jim Crutchfield has had a knack for during the past five years or so. Beilein’s marveled at what Crutchfield has been able to do with the Hilltoppers in leading them to now five consecutive conference crowns.

”It’s unbelievable,” Beilein said. ”(West Liberty) is the model of what every program in the Mountain East should be. It’s almost like (Jim) has a farm system here. It’s remarkable what he’s done.

”I want to form our program at Wesleyan like he’s done here.”

Lofty goals? Sure. But Beilein said he’s ready to meet the challenge.

”I’m taking things one season at a time and trying to get better as a coach,” he said. ”I know each season I’m going to get better and I’ll things take care of themselves.

”I’m focused on winning at Wesleyan right now.”

Holubeck, Riffle Honored

Kudos to Wheeling Jesuit cross country runners Luke Holubeck and Matt Riffle on being named to the USTFCCCA Division II Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year list.

Holubeck, a senior, and Riffle, a junior, both hail from St. John Central High School in Bellaire.

Honorees most have compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or greater and must have finished among the top 30 percent of total eligible runners at their regional championship.

”I think the award is one of the most paramount awards in our sport because it truly celebrates the student-athlete,” Cardinals head coach Ricky Moore said. ”It takes both facets of life, puts them together and, they get rewarded for that achievement.”

Hester Repeats

West Liberty University’s C.J. Hester has was one of only four men’s basketball standouts nationwide and the only junior to repeat as Capital One NCAA Division II Academic All-Americans when the 2013-14 Academic All-America Teams were announced on Wednesday by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Hester achieved third-team Academic All-America status for the second consecutive season.

Hester, a biology major, has maintained a 3.64 GPA.

To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.

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