Northwestern filled its vacant assistant coaching position with the hiring of Billy Donlon, as first reported by Scout.
Donlon was hired away from Michigan, where he worked one season under John Beilein. Northwestern had to fill the vacancy after former assistant coach, Pat Baldwin, took the head coaching position at UW-Milwaukee.
Inter-conference hirings are rare, and this seemed to be a special circumstance. Donlon and Northwestern head coach Chris Collins are childhood friends from Chicago. Donlon’s father also was an assistant coach with Northwestern from 1987-1994. Donlon even served as a ballboy for Northwestern during a time while his father was on staff.
By all accounts, this situation between Michigan and Northwestern was handled amicably. According to this report from MLive, both programs released statements and gave quotes indicating no hard feelings. Below is coach Beilein’s statement on the departure of Donlon, courtesy of a tweet from James Hawkins at Detroit News.
John Beilein on Billy Donlon's departure. pic.twitter.com/RCq6f51zea— James Hawkins (@jamesbhawkins) June 26, 2017
Previous to Michigan, Donlon was the head coach at Wright State from 2010-2016. He compiled a 109-94 record with the Raiders, and was named Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2013. Assistant coaching stops at UNC Wilmington, St. Peters and American precluded his time as head coach in Dayton, OH.
And what is Northwestern getting with Donlon?
He is primarily known as a perimeter-oriented coach, especially on the defensive end. He is credited with turning around Michigan’s defense (and its season) with intensive, on-ball defensive drills when the Wolverines were 4-6 in Big Ten play. They finished the season 12-3, bowing out in a close loss to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen.
That should mold well with Collins’ aggressive man-to-man defense. With long and athletic wings like Scottie Lindsey and Vic Law, and a rim protector like Dererk Pardon (1.8 blocks per game last season), there is much to work with in Evanston.
For Michigan, this puts the program in a difficult situation. It’s now the end of June and the Wolverines have two open assistant coach positions. Newly hired Butler coach, LaVall Jordan, hired longtime Michigan assistant, Jeff Meyer, last week.
Make sure to stay in touch with BTPowerhouse as Michigan looks to fill out its coaching staff in the remaining time before the season.