The style of play in the Big Ten is different than what it was in the Big East with stubborn defense, methodical offenses and low-scoring games. Beilein wasn't unfamiliar with that, and he was often criticized at WVU for those very traits. He needed a few trips through the league and a few thumpings from Michigan State and Wisconsin and Ohio State to understand and adapt.
"I have changed, yes, but I have changed every year for 35 years," he said. "I began coaching 37 years ago, so I guess it's longer than that, but I've changed every year. Maybe that's why I'm still coaching.
"If you don't embrace that part of it, you're not coaching very long."
To win, Beilein had to fit in and has actually become quite fond of man-to-man defense. He still leans on the 1-3-1 zone and in last month's win against Pitt, a switch to the zone changed the game in Michigan's favor.
The array of Big Ten post scorers and the emphasis on guarding screens and rebounding missed shots forced Beilein to alter his approach.
"I went to a workout early in the preseason and he was doing more defensive teaching and coaching than I'd ever seen," Patrick said. "But he realizes great defense leads to offense and he's had guys buy in, especially with the talent and the length he has. I think you'll still see some 2-3 and a little 1-3-1 here and there, but they're really a big man-to-man team, which I think is fun for him. He always wanted to play that way."
John Beilein also had to crack the Big Ten defenses he was trying to mimic. Those teams sag off the perimeter and crowd the lane, not unlike what Pitt used to do with great success against Beilein's WVU teams. He was 3-7 against the Panthers.
"In the Big East, we were more pass-the-ball-around-the-perimeter players," Patrick Beilein said.
"We weren't really good off ball screens. He has a set of guys who are really good off of ball screens, which you have to be in the Big Ten because they pack the paint.
"The basic foundation of the offense and the cuts are still there, but it's more ball screen and off-the-dribble oriented. That's the biggest change and it all goes back to the conference. He tried passing it around the perimeter in the Big Ten, but the Big Ten sinks in and guards you and makes you shoot. It wasn't successful at the very beginning, so he went to the ball screen."
At WVU, players would catch a pass, reverse the ball and set a screen. At Michigan, players dribble behind screens for jumpers and around screens for drives. John Beilein's Mountaineers were institutional. His Wolverines are, at times, more individual.
"I think that as he's gotten so-called better talent, he realizes the game is always changing and he's giving these guys, I want to say, a little more freedom because he trusts them," Patrick Beilein said. "They've earned the trust. In practice, they listen to him talk and know what he's about and he watches them practice and knows what they're about.
"He's still in control with the offense, but this time around he has some players who make it a little dangerous."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.