By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
When Matt Beaudry was hired as University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Athletic Director in October, Taylor Langley began talking to him about the future.
Langley, entering the fourth month of his tenure as UM-Dearborn’s men’s basketball head coach at the time, had a big idea: he eyed the addition of a junior varsity men’s basketball team at the university.
“It was actually one of the things I began discussing when Matt Beaudry got hired. In our monthly meetings, it would be something I would bring up on occasion,” Langley said in an interview with the Journal Friday.
Langley’s wish came true Friday when he announced the addition of a junior varsity men’s basketball team on Twitter. The team will compete this upcoming season.
The addition of a junior varsity team and what it would offer became enticing for Langley, the athletic department and university.
“A lot of schools at our level and in our league are endorsing junior varsity programs,” Langley said. “They bring a lot of advantages, I think the first one is student outreach and student engagement. It’s just creating more opportunities for students at the University of Michigan-Dearborn to become attached to the university and participate in athletics.”
Langley said he is “actively recruiting” two-year college transfers and high school students with the hope of a 10-man roster. A tryout will be held for UM-Dearborn students for “an additional roster spot or two,” according to Langley.
With the season just over four months away, has Langley experienced any challenges assembling the team?
“There’s always challenges. Typically, the candidates who would qualify for this type of program all would be available right now because they’re under-recruited for one reason or the other,” Langley said. “We’re looking for young men who just want an opportunity, and we’re able to give that to them. I think with the education that we have to offer too, I think it’s a great package deal for them.”
UM-Dearborn’s junior varsity team won’t compete in the WHAC as there is no league for the level. But there won’t be a shortage of opponents. Langley pointed out that conference foes Davenport, Marygrove, Lourdes, Siena Heights, Indiana Tech and Cornerstone field junior varsity teams, as well as Northwood, Midland and Grace Bible College.
“There’s a huge selection of schools to choose from,” Langley said. “We have our (WHAC) coaches meetings this weekend, and one of the things that may be brought up is…looking into the future, the possibility of a j.v. league for the WHAC.”
While Langley won’t coach the junior varsity team, he will monitor it. There will be a “very strong connection” between the two teams in terms of operations, but they will have their own goals.
A coach has not been announced for the junior varsity team, but, according to Langley, there’s a good chance it will be someone within the varsity program.
“We haven’t announced who the coach will be yet, but the way it’s designed right now, it will likely be one of my assistant coaches,” Langley said.
As far as call-up opportunities from junior varsity to varsity existing, Langley noted they would be considered under the right conditions.
“Obviously, we’re always going to look from within to help develop our talent,” Langley said. “If a junior varsity player is highly motivated and develops into a high-quality player, a player that can really benefit the varsity (team), we would definitely take advantage of that and move him up on the varsity (team).”
The junior varsity team does much more than add depth to the men’s basketball program; it boosts the university as a whole. With the two teams playing on different days, more opportunities exist for students to catch games.
“It creates an opportunity to help develop our campus life, help develop that school atmosphere that we’re really working hard at the university to build,” Langley said.