At halftime of Michigan’s 64-63 victory versus Houston Saturday night, basketball coach and paternal forebear John Beilein reportedly sat all his players down and told them a story from the old times.
The team reportedly huddled in a circle around Beilein silently and listened while their seasoned coach told them a historical account of the Battle of Normandy, which players say helped inspire them to a victory later that night. The tradition of storytime has in fact been a large part of the Wolverines success this season, as several players noted.
“It’s something we started in the middle of the season to help with team bonding,” said Coach Beilein at a media session Tuesday. Freshman guard Jordan Poole, who hit the game-winner on Saturday, sat propped attentively on his knee.
“Our chemistry really started to come together right around the time storytime began, and it’s hard to view that as simple coincidence.”
Storytime, which for the basketball team has consisted of varying tales of triumph and defeat, mainly from World War II but with some accounts of Revolutionary and Civil War battles, is something that the players say began somewhat naturally, given Coach Beilein’s grandfatherly instincts.
“It’s been really, really fun,” stated sophomore point guard Zavier Simpson, sitting criss-cross-applesauce at the foot of Coach Beilein’s chair. “Coach is just such a great storyteller, and it’s fun to hear all the crazy things he has to say!”
“Personally, I think I might be getting a little old for it,” said senior leader Mohammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. “But,” continued Abdur-Rahkman, cracking a smile, “it sure does warm your heart to see the way the little guys light up when we sit down for one of ol’ Coach’s stories.”
Given the great success of storytime, Coach Beilein says that he plans to continue this strategy going forward.
“I like it, they like it, we’re winning. We might as well just kind of run with it, you know?” explained Coach Beilein, who added that he still has plenty of stories left for the guys.
“They’ll tell me sometimes they’ve already heard a story, or they’ll be begging me to tell them another story about Trey Burke and the old days. Sometimes I swear they’re just doing it to get out of sprints, but I just can’t say no to these fine young men!”