A tumultuous July resulted in DeAndre Haynes and Luke Yaklich finding their dream jobs in Ann Arbor. The two new assistants joined Sam Webb on WTKA to discuss their interview process, fit in Ann Arbor and recruiting philosophies on Tuesday morning.
It took recommendations from coaches across the country, including their boss at Illinois State, followed by interviews in hotel and airport restaurants and a few extra phone calls with the man in charge, but in the end Beilein tabbed Haynes, a point guard from Detroit, and Yaklich, a history teacher from Joliet, Illinois, as his new assistant coaches.
Haynes was hired after an interview in Atlanta before the Nike Peach Jam while Yaklich interviewed at the Peach Jam — changing into a suit for the interview just hours before the evaluation period, only to change back into Illinois State gear and make it to the gym — before sealing the deal a couple of weeks later while discussing defensive philosophies at an oyster bar in Las Vegas.
Yaklich’s defensive philosophy
Luke Yaklich’s role on the Michigan staff will be similar to Billy Donlon’s last season and it will start on the defensive end of the floor. John Beilein stressed that role during Yaklich’s interview process and the new assistant coach shared his primary philosophy on defense: “Contest every shot with every fiber of your being”.
Yaklich stressed simplicity in his message, noting that “if you emphasize seven or eight things, you emphasize nothing,” and said the most important element of his job is getting buy in from players on defense.
“We want to keep the ball in front,” Yaklich said. “You better be good at guarding the pick and roll. The key thing in my estimation that we really did a great job of teaching (at Illinois State) and – you can’t emphasize everything – for us it is going to be contesting shots. You have to make them miss not hope they miss.”
Evaluating last year’s Illinois State defense, a group that Yaklich called “string beans with a lot of length”, he focused on again on the ability to contest.
“We were a great help defensive team,” Yaklich said of the Illinois State defense which ranked 19th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. “We were very effective guarding the ball and did a great job of guarding ball screens and did a great job of blocking shots from the weak side. If there’s one adage and one mindset: The help never gets beat.”
Haynes to work with the guards
DeAndre Haynes’ role on the new staff will be to mold Michigan’s guards into better players. Haynes, who played professionally just five years ago, emphasized that he isn’t afraid to get out on the floor and sweat with the guys and he wants to continue in Michigan’s lineage of perimeter talent development.
“I’m going to be working with the guards,” Haynes said. “Coach is saying ‘hey, I’m trusting you to get these guys better’ which I love to do. I accepted the challenge and day one we walked in on the floor and got right after it.
“That’s one of my main duties and he’s also said there may be a time where he wants me to step in on learning the offense and doing stuff like that.”
Haynes marveled at some of the physical gains made by players who he evaluated as high school prospects during his time at Kent State and Toledo (Ibi Watson, Xavier Simpson) or even coached against (Jaaron Simmons).
“I know the guys,” Haynes said. “I know X (Xavier Simpson) really well, I recruited him. I know Jaaron (Simmons), we actually coached against him at OU…. I know a lot of the guys, I’m familiar with them.”
“Walking into the gym and seeing his development and his body. I think we have one of the best strength coaches. You see Jaaron now and his body is improving,” Haynes said when asked about the current guards. “Ibi’s vertical is improving. I’ve seen these guys in high school and everyone’s body has changed. The muscle mass they’ve put on and their vertical leaps. Seeing their skill level increase and I’m just ready to capitalize on that.”
Recruiting starts with relationships
Both DeAndre Haynes and Luke Yaklich bring a wealth of connections across the Midwest.
Haynes came up in Detroit and played for The Family, noting Durand “Speedy” Walker as one of his closest mentors. Now wearing a Michigan polo on the trail, he’s also not willing to limit himself to the area where he’s comfortable.
“Since I’ve coached in the MAC at Kent State and Toledo, I actually recruited Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Chicago,” Haynes explained. “We’re going to recruit everywhere. That’s just been my footprint and where I started and I have a lot of connections. I’ll go anywhere to get kids.
“We follow the talent. Wherever the talent is, we’re going to go out there. We’re going to want to bring the best talent to the University of Michigan.”
Yaklich has years of experience as a high school coach in the state of Illinois and brings another dynamic to the recruiting trail. He has connections to Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and the St. Louis area, but recruiting at Illinois State took him all over, including places like California, Colorado and Texas along with the junior college ranks.
His pitch revolves around building trust in the family.
“Four years ago when I started, I was a high school coach for 15 years so for me I just took the same philosophy,” Yaklich explained. “You have to simplify it to basic terms for me: what would a parent want to hear if they’re going to have their son go away from school. They need trust and they need to know their son will be taken care of. How do you do that? Relationships.”