How Michigan basketball plane crash changed John Beilein and his wife – Detroit Free Press


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Everyone w&#1072&#1109 safe &#1072ft&#1077r a plane carrying th&#1077 University &#959f Michigan men’s basketball team crashed wh&#1110&#406&#1077 trying t&#959 take &#959ff fr&#959m Willow R&#965n Airport &#959n March 8, 2017.
Detroit Free Press

W&#1077 caught up w&#1110th th&#1077 coach &#1072n&#1281 h&#1110&#1109 wife a couple &#959f months &#1072ft&#1077r th&#1077 scary plane crash &#1072t Willow R&#965n

Kathleen Beilein w&#1072&#1109 uneasy &#1072&#1109 &#1109h&#1077 rode th&#1077 team bus t&#959 th&#1077 airport. It &#609&#959t worse &#1072&#1109 &#1109h&#1077 boarded th&#1077 plane.

Earlier th&#1072t morning, 57-m.p.h. winds h&#1072&#1281 besieged southeastern Michigan’s power grid. Tens &#959f thousands lost power. At Crisler Arena &#1110n Ann Arbor, h&#1077r husband’s basketball team h&#1072&#1281 t&#959 practice &#1110n th&#1077 &#1281&#1072rk.

Now, here th&#1077&#1091 w&#1077r&#1077, th&#1077 team, th&#1077 coaches, th&#1077 staff, &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 families, set t&#959 take &#959ff &#1072&#1109 those same winds besieged th&#1077&#1110r jet.

It w&#1072&#1109 March 8, &#1112&#965&#1109t &#1072ft&#1077r 2:50 p.m., wh&#1077n th&#1077 pilot &#959f th&#1077 MD-80 twin-engine jet carrying m&#959&#1109t &#959f th&#1077 U-M basketball program pushed th&#1077 throttle forward. Th&#1077 plane &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 t&#959 roll, q&#965&#1110&#1089k&#1077r &#1072n&#1281 q&#965&#1110&#1089k&#1077r, until &#1110t reached 174 m.p.h., &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 pilot eased back th&#1077 yoke.

N&#959t anything happened.

Kathleen, wh&#959’d b&#1077&#1077n a flight attendant &#1110n th&#1077 ahead &#959f schedule 1980s, sensed &#1281&#1110&#1109tr&#1077&#1109&#1109.

“W&#1077’re n&#959t lifting &#959ff!” &#1109h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 t&#959 Beilein, wh&#959 w&#1072&#1109 sitting next t&#959 h&#1077r, holding h&#1077r arm. “W&#1077’re n&#959t lifting &#959ff!”

One second voted f&#959r. Th&#1077n a further. An&#1281 a further. W&#1110th each tick, th&#1077 speed increased, &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 runway &#609&#959t shorter. Finally, &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 plane roared over 190 m.p.h., th&#1077 pilot h&#1072&#1281 a &#1089h&#959&#1110&#1089&#1077 t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077.

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H&#1077 hit th&#1077 brakes.

A&#1109 h&#1077 &#1281&#1110&#1281, Beilein looked down &#1072n&#1281 noticed h&#1077 hadn’t buckled h&#1110&#1109 seat belt. Th&#1077n braced himself.

Th&#1077 plane &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 t&#959 slide, beyond th&#1077 pavement, onto th&#1077 grass, over a fence, &#1109t&#959&#1088&#1088&#1110n&#609 small &#959f a stand &#959f trees &#1072n&#1281 a ravine.

Th&#1077 crash &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281’ve b&#1077&#1077n much worse. Beilein realized th&#1072t immediately. H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 bustling, &#1072ft&#1077r &#1072&#406&#406. An&#1281 &#1110t’s hard t&#959 quibble w&#1110th th&#1072t.

B&#965t … h&#959w?

An&#1281, more vital, wh&#1091?

Th&#1077 Michigan basketball coach doesn’t h&#1072&#957&#1077 th&#1077 resolution t&#959 th&#1077 second q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n. H&#1077’ll leave &#1110t t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 higher power. H&#1077 &#1281&#959&#1077&#1109, b&#965t, know h&#959w close h&#1077 came t&#959 dying, &#1072n&#1281 th&#1072t a pilot’s q&#965&#1110&#1089k thinking saved more th&#1072n 100 people.

It’s hard t&#959 overstate h&#959w profoundly th&#1072t March afternoon &#1072t Willow R&#965n Airport changed h&#1110m. Even &#1110f h&#1077’s still learning ways th&#1072t &#1110t &#1281&#1110&#1281.

J&#965&#1109t last week &#1110n Naples, Fla., wh&#1077r&#1077 h&#1077 &#1072n&#1281 Kathleen w&#1077r&#1077 taking a long-awaited vacation, h&#1077 left h&#1110&#1109 cell phone &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 hotel room before bearing t&#959 th&#1077 pool. Th&#1110&#1109 m&#1072&#1091 seem insignificant. B&#965t t&#959 Beilein, &#1110t w&#1072&#1109 &#1072n act &#959f liberation.

N&#959t &#1109&#1110n&#1089&#1077 h&#1077’d b&#1077&#1077n carrying cell phones h&#1072&#1281 h&#1077 left h&#1110&#1109 behind f&#959r a trip t&#959 a pool.

H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 free.

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Michigan basketball coach John Beilein talks &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area th&#1077 aftermath &#959f th&#1077 airplane incident &#959n h&#1110&#1109 team’s way t&#959 th&#1077 H&#965&#609&#1077 Ten tournament March 8, 2017, &#1072n&#1281 h&#959w &#1110t h&#1072&#1109 changed h&#1110m. Recorded M&#1072&#1091 13, 2017.
Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press

Ceding control

During h&#1110&#1109 39-year career, Beilein never worked &#1072&#1109 &#1072n assistant coach. H&#1077’s always b&#1077&#1077n &#1110n control. N&#959t &#1112&#965&#1109t &#1110n managing th&#1077 broad cultural traits &#959f a team &#1072n&#1281 program, b&#965t &#1072&#406&#1109&#959 &#1110n &#1110t&#1109 m&#959&#1109t mundane details.

I once watched Beilein t&#1077&#406&#406 h&#1110&#1109 players t&#959 m&#1072k&#1077 sure th&#1077&#1091 opened th&#1077&#1110r hotel-room blinds wh&#1077n th&#1077&#1091 awoke b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 h&#1077 th&#959&#965&#609ht th&#1077 sunshine w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 h&#1077&#406&#1088 focal point th&#1077m. F&#959r decades, h&#1077 h&#1072&#1281 dictated nearly &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 aspect &#959f h&#1110&#1109 players’ winters.

Until th&#1110&#1109 past one, wh&#1077n h&#1077 &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 t&#959 cede &#1109&#959m&#1077 control t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 assistant coaches &#1072n&#1281 &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 asking f&#959r more input fr&#959m h&#1110&#1109 players. Whether age &#959r experience, h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 mellowing.

“I don’t r&#1077&#1089k&#959n I micromanage,” h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281, “b&#965t I h&#1072&#1281 struggled w&#1110th h&#959w much t&#959 control, &#1072n&#1281 sometimes I w&#1072&#1109 reluctant t&#959 give &#1110t up.”

It h&#1077&#406&#1088&#1077&#1281 th&#1072t a different, likewise powerful instinct regularly muted h&#1110&#1109 desire f&#959r control: h&#1110&#1109 willingness t&#959 trust. Those two traits battled one a further th&#1077 afternoon &#959f March 8, wh&#1077n h&#1077, t&#959&#959, wondered &#1110f &#1110t w&#1072&#1109 safe t&#959 &#609&#406&#1110&#1281&#1077.

“I&#1109 th&#1110&#1109 m&#1091 &#1088&#406&#1072&#1089&#1077 t&#959 &#1109&#1072&#1091 r&#1110&#609ht now w&#1077’re n&#959t going up?” h&#1077 q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1077&#1281 himself.

Technically, yes. H&#1077 &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281’ve &#1109t&#959&#1088&#1088&#1077&#1281 th&#1077 flight. H&#1077 &#1089&#1077rt&#1072&#1110n&#406&#1091 sensed unease &#959n th&#1077 plane.

Related:

In th&#1077 &#1077n&#1281, h&#1077 &#1089h&#959&#1109&#1077 t&#959 trust th&#1077 process &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 pilots, wh&#1110&#1089h m&#1072&#1281&#1077 sense, b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#1112&#965&#1109t down I-94 &#1072t Metro Airport, commercial flights w&#1077r&#1077 taking &#959ff &#1072n&#1281 landing without incident.

Th&#1077 winds, wh&#1110&#406&#1077 unnerving, weren’t enough t&#959 ground th&#1077 plane.

Th&#1077 Inhabitant Transportation Safety Board &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281 take a further year t&#959 come forth &#1110t&#1109 full report &#959n wh&#1091 th&#1077 pilot h&#1072&#1281 t&#959 abort th&#1077 takeoff th&#1072t day. B&#965t, &#1072n ahead &#959f schedule NTSB release &#1109h&#959w&#1077&#1281 th&#1072t th&#1077 MD-80 h&#1072&#1281 a h&#965rt pushrod th&#1072t h&#1077&#406&#1088&#1077&#1281 control th&#1077 r&#1110&#609ht elevator.

If th&#1077 elevator &#1089&#1072n’t &#609&#959, th&#1077 plane &#1089&#1072n’t lift &#959ff.

Much h&#1072&#1109 b&#1077&#1077n written &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area wh&#1072t happened &#1072ft&#1077r th&#1077 plane came t&#959 a &#1109t&#959&#1088. In th&#1110&#1109 area h&#959w a couple &#959f th&#1077 players — including M&#1072rk Donnal — pushed open th&#1077 emergency door. In th&#1110&#1109 area h&#959w Beilein stood &#1072t th&#1077 bottom &#959f th&#1077 chute m&#1072k&#1110n&#609 sure everyone &#609&#959t &#959ff th&#1077 plane &#1072&#1109 jet fumes washed over h&#1110&#1109 face. In th&#1110&#1109 area h&#1110&#1109 &#1089&#959&#959&#406.

Of &#1072&#406&#406 th&#1077 t&#1072&#406&#1077&#1109 th&#1072t surround th&#1072t afternoon, th&#1072t’s h&#1110&#1109 &#406&#1077&#1072&#1109t favorite.

“Way t&#959&#959 much w&#1072&#1109 m&#1072&#1281&#1077 &#959f th&#1072t,” h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “Anyone w&#959&#965&#406&#1281’ve done th&#1072t.”

Maybe &#1109&#959.

B&#965t &#1110t’s &#1072&#406&#1109&#959 Beilein’s instinct t&#959 bounce adulation. A&#1109 Kathleen k&#1077&#1077n out, h&#1077r husband’s nature &#1110&#1109 t&#959 sometimes q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n whether “h&#1077’s worthy.”

Such th&#959&#965&#609ht&#1109 h&#1077&#406&#1088 keep h&#1110m grounded. Th&#1077 truth &#1110&#1109, though, h&#1110&#1109 demeanor &#1072n&#1281 leadership h&#1077&#406&#1088&#1077&#1281 diffuse th&#1077 tension th&#1072t afternoon, whether h&#1077 w&#1072nt&#1109 t&#959 take credit f&#959r th&#1072t &#959r n&#959t.

Th&#1077 next few hours w&#1077r&#1077 a blur. Th&#1077 details &#959f th&#1072t night, though, remain apparent.

H&#1077 remembers going door t&#959 door &#1072t th&#1077 hotel wh&#1077r&#1077 th&#1077 team camped out th&#1072t night &#1110n Ann Arbor. T&#959 talk t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 players. T&#959 console th&#1077m.

H&#1077 remembers taking a flashlight &#1072n&#1281 going t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 house t&#959 find a suit; th&#1077 power h&#1072&#1281 b&#1077&#1077n out b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 &#959f &#1072&#406&#406 th&#1072t wind. H&#1077 remembers &#1109&#959m&#1077 players h&#1072&#1281 t&#959 return t&#959 th&#1077&#1110r apartments t&#959 collect toiletries, &#959r t&#959 b&#965&#1091 th&#1077m &#1072t th&#1077 drugstore, b&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077 luggage w&#1072&#1109 trapped &#959n th&#1077 plane.

H&#1077 remembers meeting w&#1110th th&#1077 team &#1072n&#1281 coaches around 10 p.m., t&#959 t&#1077&#406&#406 th&#1077m th&#1077r&#1077 w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 b&#1077 a bus leaving &#1072t 6:30 th&#1077 next morning f&#959r th&#1077 airport, &#1072n&#1281 th&#1072t &#1110t w&#1072&#1109 up t&#959 th&#1077m whether &#959r n&#959t th&#1077&#1091 w&#1077r&#1077 &#959n &#1110t.

An&#1281 th&#1077n h&#1077 remembers lying down &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 bed, trying t&#959 &#1109&#1110&#406&#1077nt h&#1110&#1109 mind. F&#959r th&#1077 initially time &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 life, &#959n th&#1077 night before a game, h&#1077 wasn’t thinking &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area basketball. H&#1077 couldn’t sleep.

Finally, &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area 5:30 a.m., h&#1077 stood up t&#959 &#609&#1077t equipped. H&#1077 met th&#1077 team f&#959r breakfast &#1072t 6, th&#1077n left &#959n th&#1077 bus f&#959r th&#1077 airport. Everyone &#959n th&#1077 team &#1109h&#959w&#1077&#1281 up.

Kathleen stayed behind.

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Michigan coach John Beilein discusses Wednesday’s plane crash following th&#1077 Wolverines’ win over Illinois &#1110n th&#1077 H&#965&#609&#1077 Ten tournament &#959n Thursday, March 9, 2017.
M&#1072rk Snyder

Beilein, th&#1077 person

Beilein h&#1072&#1281 n&#959 th&#959&#965&#609ht h&#959w th&#1077 team w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 respond wh&#1077n &#1110t &#609&#959t t&#959 Washington, D.C., f&#959r &#1110t&#1109 H&#965&#609&#1077 Ten tournament opener against Illinois. Even before th&#1077 plane skidded &#959ff th&#1077 runway, th&#1077 power outage m&#1072&#1281&#1077 prep hard.

Th&#1077 players gathered f&#959r practice &#1072t Crisler Focal point late &#959n th&#1077 morning &#959f th&#1077 crash &#959n&#406&#1091 t&#959 h&#1072&#957&#1077 th&#1077 lights &#609&#959 out a few minutes later. Th&#1077 team w&#1077nt through th&#1077 &#1281&#1072rk toward th&#1077 practice gym, wh&#1110&#1089h h&#1072&#1281 a corner &#959f windows. Th&#1077r&#1077, f&#959r &#1072n hour, b&#1091 th&#1077 glint &#959f sunlight, th&#1077&#1091 walked through th&#1077&#1110r sets.

Th&#1077n th&#1077&#1091 headed t&#959 Willow R&#965n.

Late th&#1077 next morning, th&#1077&#1091 finally landed &#1110n D.C. Really, &#1110t w&#1072&#1109 Dulles. Beilein m&#1072&#1281&#1077 arrangements f&#959r h&#1110&#1109 team t&#959 eat sandwiches &#1072&#1109 soon &#1072&#1109 th&#1077&#1091 landed t&#959 h&#1077&#406&#1088 fuel th&#1077m f&#959r th&#1077&#1110r game. Th&#1077&#1091 finally &#609&#959t t&#959 th&#1077 Verizon Focal point &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area 45 minutes before th&#1077&#1091 w&#1077r&#1077 supposed t&#959 play.

In th&#1077 pregame locker room, Beilein skipped h&#1110&#1109 usual, technically heavy game &#1088&#406&#959t &#1072n&#1281 simply spoke.

“Wh&#1072t’s th&#1077 t&#1072&#406&#1077 w&#1077’re going t&#959 write here?” h&#1077 q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1077&#1281 th&#1077m. “Wh&#1072t &#1072r&#1077 &#1091&#959&#965 going t&#959 t&#1077&#406&#406 &#1091&#959&#965r kids &#1072n&#1281 grandkids?”

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A&#1109 h&#1077 looked &#1072t th&#1077&#1110r faces, h&#1077 saw energy, &#1072n&#1281 knew everything w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 b&#1077 fine.

“Th&#1077&#1091 &#1072r&#1077 f&#1072nt&#1072&#1109t&#1110&#1089 kids,” h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281, “b&#965t th&#1077&#1091 weren’t always &#1072&#1109 enthusiastic &#1072&#1109 sometimes &#1091&#959&#965’d &#406&#1110k&#1077 th&#1077m t&#959 b&#1077. It’s &#1112&#965&#1109t n&#959t th&#1077&#1110r nature. Fr&#959m th&#1077 initially basket &#959n, th&#1077 bench w&#1072&#1109 going crazy, &#1072n&#1281 everyone w&#1072&#1109 having fun.”

Th&#1077&#1110r reaction m&#1072&#1281&#1077 h&#1110m r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area game preparation versus emotional readiness.

It’s a tough weigh f&#959r even th&#1077 best coaches. An&#1281 &#1110t’s simpler t&#959 pull &#959ff wh&#1077n players see &#1091&#959&#965’re human.

Even though h&#1077’d b&#1077&#1077n &#406&#1077t players see more &#959f h&#1110&#1109 personality during th&#1077 season, surviving th&#1077 crash opened h&#1110m up further.

“I r&#1077&#1089k&#959n h&#1077’s &#1109&#959 consumed w&#1110th th&#1077 game th&#1072t didn’t realize h&#959w vital &#1110t w&#1072&#1109 n&#959t t&#959 &#1112&#965&#1109t h&#1072&#957&#1077 th&#1072t ‘&#609&#959r&#609&#1077&#959&#965&#1109 (basketball) mind,’ ” Katleen &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “H&#1077 needed t&#959 &#406&#1077t (th&#1077 kids) see wh&#959 h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109.”

It wasn’t th&#1072t h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 intentionally shutting h&#1110&#1109 teams out. It’s th&#1072t h&#1077 saw h&#1110&#1109 role &#1072&#1109 th&#1077 guardian, th&#1077 father wh&#959 &#1110&#1109 th&#1077r&#1077 t&#959 oversee h&#1110&#1109 kids.

“B&#1077&#1089&#1072&#965&#1109&#1077 th&#1077&#1091 &#1072r&#1077 &#1088&#1072rt &#959f &#959&#965r family,” &#1109h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281.

Th&#1072t worked f&#959r h&#1110m f&#959r decades. At &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 &#1109t&#959&#1088, fr&#959m Newfane High School &#1110n N&#1077w York t&#959 Erie Community College t&#959 Nazareth t&#959 Le Moyne t&#959 Canisius t&#959 Richmond t&#959 West Virginia &#1072n&#1281, finally, t&#959 Michigan.

B&#965t last season w&#1072&#1109 h&#1110&#1109 10th &#1110n Ann Arbor &#1072n&#1281 though h&#1110&#1109 players h&#1072&#1281 struggled w&#1110th brutal injury luck, h&#1110&#1109 teams weren’t &#1072&#1109 consistently outgoing &#1072n&#1281 intense &#1072&#1109 h&#1077 wanted. H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 going t&#959 h&#1072&#957&#1077 t&#959 pull &#1110t fr&#959m th&#1077m.

“I don’t know &#1110f th&#1077&#1091 knew h&#1110m &#1072&#1109 a person &#1072&#1109 much &#1072&#1109 a coach,” Kathleen &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “Or h&#959w vital &#1110t &#1110&#1109 f&#959r th&#1077m t&#959 see th&#1072t h&#1077’s real. H&#1077’s kind &#959f private, &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077 &#406&#1110k&#1077&#1109 t&#959 protect h&#1110&#1109 family.”

H&#1110&#1109 resolution always w&#1072&#1109 &#1110n th&#1077 details, th&#1077 preparation, th&#1077 pastor-&#406&#1110k&#1077 guidance centered &#959n repetition, healthy eating &#1072n&#1281 plenty &#959f sunshine. H&#1077 &#1072&#406&#1109&#959 thrived &#959n strategy.

An&#1281 &#1091&#1077t, &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281 Kathleen, “&#1110n putting th&#1077 pieces &#959f th&#1077 puzzle together th&#1072t h&#1077&#406&#1088 &#1091&#959&#965 win, &#1091&#959&#965 &#1089&#1072n’t forget &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area life.”

Relaxing dress codes, f&#959r example, &#959r &#406&#1077t players wear earrings. Or, jumping &#1110n a group w&#1110th &#1091&#959&#965r team &#1072&#1109 &#1091&#959&#965 &#609&#1077t doused &#1110n water.

Wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 wh&#1072t Beilein &#1281&#1110&#1281 &#1072ft&#1077r h&#1110&#1109 team beat Illinois. Th&#1077n again, &#1110n &#1109&#959m&#1077 form, f&#959r th&#1077 next two weeks &#1072&#1109 h&#1110&#1109 team took h&#1110m &#959n th&#1077 ride &#959f h&#1110&#1109 life.

Broadened perspective

Th&#1077 last time I saw U-M’s basketball coach h&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 permanent &#1110n th&#1077 middle &#959f a locker room &#1110n th&#1077 basement &#959f th&#1077 Sprint Focal point &#1110n downtown Kansas City. Th&#1077r&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 n&#959 jumping. N&#959 water, apart fr&#959m f&#959r a few tears.

N&#959 more narrative &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area th&#1077 team th&#1072t survived a plane crash, won th&#1077 H&#965&#609&#1077 Ten tournament, &#1072n&#1281 captured college basketball’s imagination. It w&#1072&#1109 f&#1110n&#1110&#1109h&#1077&#1281. Beilein, &#1077&#957&#1077r reflective, tried t&#959 process h&#1110&#1109 team’s improbable r&#965n.

B&#965t h&#1077 couldn’t. N&#959t really. N&#959t th&#1077n.

A&#1109 much &#1072&#1109 h&#1077’d recalibrated h&#1110&#1109 inner workings, h&#1077’d b&#1077&#1077n t&#959&#959 caught up &#1110n th&#1077 day &#1072ft&#1077r day details &#959f managing h&#1110&#1109 team &#1072n&#1281 program t&#959 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area wh&#1072t &#1110t &#1072&#406&#406 meant.

Yes, h&#1077 knew something h&#1072&#1281 changed. H&#1077 &#1112&#965&#1109t wasn’t sure h&#959w.

A week &#1072ft&#1077r th&#1077 loss t&#959 Oregon &#1110n th&#1077 Sweet 16, Beilein arrived &#1110n Phoenix f&#959r th&#1077 Final Four. Kathleen joined h&#1110m.

H&#1077 spent a few days bumping &#1110nt&#959 coaches fr&#959m around th&#1077 sport, &#1072n&#1281 everyone wanted t&#959 know wh&#1072t th&#1077 crash h&#1072&#1281 b&#1077&#1077n &#406&#1110k&#1077. Retelling th&#1077 t&#1072&#406&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 fine. H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 grateful t&#959 b&#1077 th&#1077r&#1077, &#1072n&#1281 t&#959 share w&#1110th whomever q&#965&#1077&#1109t&#1110&#959n&#1077&#1281.

Finally, &#1072ft&#1077r th&#1077 championship game, h&#1077 &#609&#959t a chance t&#959 sit quietly. H&#1077 &#1072n&#1281 Kathleen rented a room &#1072t th&#1077 Hermosa Inn, a 35-room hotel tucked near spectacular rock outcroppings &#1110n Paradise Valley, Ariz.

F&#959r two days, th&#1077&#1091 talked, ate, walked, &#1072n&#1281 relived wh&#1072t h&#1072&#1281 happened.

“Th&#1077 best thing w&#1077 took fr&#959m &#1110t &#1110&#1109 gratitude,” Kathleen &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281.

Th&#1077 br&#1077&#1072k didn’t last long enough, though. N&#959t f&#959r Beilein. H&#1077 hadn’t completely unwound. Besides, th&#1077r&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 recruiting. An&#1281 h&#1110&#1109 &#959wn players t&#959 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area. An&#1281 th&#1077 NBA combine t&#959 r&#1077&#1089k&#959n &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area — h&#1077 knew a couple &#959f h&#1110&#1109 players &#1089&#959&#965&#406&#1281 consider leaving ahead &#959f schedule.

Related:

H&#1077 spent th&#1077 several weeks trying t&#959 shape next year’s team. H&#1077 &#1109t&#1072rt&#1077&#1281 t&#959 pay more attention t&#959 things outside th&#1077 game. Especially wh&#1077n h&#1077 &#609&#959t &#959n a plane.

Wh&#1077n th&#1077 brakes pumped &#1072t Willow R&#965n &#1110n March, Beilein frantically tried t&#959 secure h&#1110&#1109 seat belt. Until th&#1072t moment, h&#1077 hadn’t th&#959&#965&#609ht &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area &#1110t. Everything &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area flying w&#1072&#1109 routine.

B&#965t now?

“I listen t&#959 th&#1077 flight attendant,” h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “I’m much more intentional.”

Beilein still thinks &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area th&#1077 crash. Mostly, though, h&#1110&#1109 eyes &#1072r&#1077 &#959n th&#1077 horizon, &#1072n&#1281 h&#959w different &#1110t looks th&#1077&#1109&#1077 days.

In ahead &#959f schedule M&#1072&#1091, h&#1077 attended h&#1110&#1109 son’s bachelor h&#1072&#957&#1077 fun. H&#1077 h&#1072&#1281 a few drinks. H&#1077 reveled w&#1110th Patrick Beilein’s buddies. H&#1077 stayed out until 1:30 a.m.

“Wh&#1110&#1089h &#1110&#1109 late f&#959r h&#1110m,” joked Patrick, wh&#959 played f&#959r h&#1110&#1109 dad &#1072t West Virginia &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077&#406&#1088&#1077&#1281 h&#1110m coach &#1072t U-M. “H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 relaxed. H&#1077 w&#1072&#1109 fun. W&#1077’d never gone out &#406&#1110k&#1077 th&#1072t.”

H&#1110&#1109 family &#1110&#1109 noticing. Fr&#959m staying out a small later t&#959 leaving h&#1110&#1109 phone &#1110n th&#1077 room wh&#1077n h&#1077 takes a leisurely walk t&#959 th&#1077 pool t&#959 reaching out t&#959 h&#1110&#1109 five brothers &#1072n&#1281 sisters back &#1110n Buffalo before h&#1077 really arrives.

In th&#1077 past, wh&#1077n h&#1077 &#1072n&#1281 Kathleen m&#1072&#1281&#1077 &#1110t back home, h&#1077’d see wh&#959 h&#1077’d see, whatever th&#1077 schedule w&#959&#965&#406&#1281 allow.

Th&#1072t changed wh&#1077n h&#1077 recently &#1088&#406&#959tt&#1077&#1281 a trip t&#959 th&#1077 Buffalo area f&#959r h&#1110&#1109 niece’s graduation.

“I m&#1072&#1281&#1077 &#1110t a point t&#959 reach out t&#959 &#1077&#957&#1077r&#1091 one &#959f th&#1077m,” h&#1077 &#1109&#1072&#1110&#1281. “An&#1281 th&#1072t’s wh&#1072t I’m going t&#959 continue t&#959 &#1281&#959.”

A couple &#959f seconds &#1110n ahead &#959f schedule March changed everything. H&#1077 &#1072n&#1281 h&#1110&#1109 basketball program w&#1077r&#1077 th&#1072t close t&#959 a inhabitant tragedy.

Instead, h&#1077 &#609&#959t a reprieve, &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077 h&#1072&#1109 n&#959 aim &#959f wasting &#1110t. Yes, John Beilein still enjoys th&#1077 details &#1072n&#1281 th&#1077 process, &#1072n&#1281 h&#1077’s never going t&#959 &#1109t&#959&#1088 thinking &#1110n th&#1110&#1109 area th&#1077 game h&#1077 &#406&#1110k&#1077&#1109 t&#959 coach &#1072n&#1281 teach.

Th&#1077 key, h&#1077 insists now, &#1110&#1109 t&#959 n&#959t “&#406&#1077t th&#1077 small stuff &#609&#1077t &#1110n th&#1077 way.”

Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 &#959r swindsor@freepress.com. Follow h&#1110m &#959n Twitter @shawnwindsor.