Lori Schmidt

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Holtmann Holds On To His Love Of The College Game

Chris Holtmann had an inkling that Michigan coach John Beilein was thinking about leaving the Wolverines for the NBA.

"I had talked to John a couple weeks before he took the Cleveland job," Holtmann said, "We actually talked about the Detroit job, and I got the impression then that if Detroit had offered him the job, he would have taken it last year."

Holtmann concedes, however, that he is one of the few who could see a day when Beilein would leave the college game.

Even Holtmann's players were taken aback.

"I had no clue that was going to happen when it did," said junior Kyle Young. "He's an awesome dude. I always caught really good vibes from him every time I talked to him."

"I was definitely shocked," senior Andre Wesson agreed. "But good for him. It's a move up in his life, and I wish him the best."

Beilein joined Michigan in 2007 and won 278 games, two Big Ten regular season championships, and two Big Ten tournament championships during his tenure.

Although Holtmann acknowledged speculation that Beilein's frustrations with "some of the things that are going on in our game" led him to move on, "I just think, in a lot of ways, for him it was another challenge."

But what about Holtmann himself? Are the frustrations at this level low enough and the challenges high enough? Would he describe himself as strongly preferring to be a college coach?

"I love, I love our college game," he said. "Love it."

"I think there's so much that people talk about in terms of our game and quote-unquote: 'the potential demise of our game.' Then you look at the TV ratings and the numbers, particularly in March, and they're the best they've ever been. One of the all-time rated national championship games."

He admitted there are question marks about the sport's future. "Obviously, everybody is keeping an eye on what's going to happen in the next year to 18 months regarding all the NCAA stuff," he said. "I have frustrations certainly, like a lot of my colleagues do, about some things with our game, but also, I love it. I love it."

That's music to the ears of Wesson, who believes Holtmann would make a good NBA coach, but hints he sees him as more of a fit in Columbus right now.

"Yeah, he's not a real hard-nosed guy," said Wesson of Holtmann. "I know sometimes that can throw NBA guys off. He's a players' coach. He's going to talk to you and listen to your opinion."

Holtmann also sees college and the pros as distinct. "I'm fascinated with the NBA game, too, but that's more because I'm a coach, and I enjoy watching it, and studying it, and the games are very different. And I'm sure John will see that."

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