As a freshman you have to take advantage of the opportunities that you receive and make the most of them. With Nik Stauskas out with an injured ankle Sunday and the Wolverines' coaching staff looking for others to prove themselves, Zak Irvin did just that. He walked off the floor with a solid performance of 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assist against Coppin State. Last week in a tournament in Puerto Rico it was tough on Irvin as his shot was not falling, but it is the confidence that his teammates have in him that allowed Zak to have a career night with hopes of many more to come.
"With (Nik) being out we needed someone to step up today," Irvin said after the game, "and I think our team was able to do that. I was able to get more playing time, also I was able to rebound -- I had 5 rebounds and I was helping the team out on the boards as well. My jump shot was falling today and my teammates were able to find me. I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates. They kept telling me to keep my head up and stay confident out there and I would knock down the next one, and I was able to do that."
This type of game is something that is expected of Irvin -- maybe not the 24 points every night but certainly his ability to shoot the ball from deep with consistency. If you look back at some of the shots Zak put up and missed in Puerto Rico, many were the same shots he made in this game. It was just a matter of him staying aggressive when one falls and then another; plus it is he confidence your teammates have to find you almost knowing what the results will be.
"Normally when I start knocking down a couple, Caris is able to find me open, I was coming off screens and they were also able to find me in transition. It is definitely a relief to finally see some shots go down, so I hope I can just continue to do this as the year goes on."
Things seem to be falling in place for Irvin with his play. He is more at ease out on the floor. These early games, and the playing time he is receiving, are giving him more experience.
"I am definitely feeling more confident out on the court having my teammates behind me and telling me to stay confident. That just helps me as the game goes on."
Head Coach John Beilein was very pleased with Irvin's performance, knowing the boast that that he gave them with Nik Stauskas out.
"This is a huge confidence boaster after last game I just have to stay level headed and be ready on Tuesday."
"Zak made a big shot to end that game down in Puerto Rico, and to have that coming off the bench as a reserve for Nik, Caris or Glenn is huge for us. When he came in the game the floor expanded. When we were playing with the two big guys we did okay, but we couldn't expand like we could in that zone and he was great."
This was a good game for Irvin to have because this Tuesday he goes down to an environment that is that is unlike any other.
"This is a huge confidence boaster after the last game. I just have to stay level headed and be ready on Tuesday."
The Duke game should be interesting for Zak Irvin -- the competition will be better, the stage will be bigger. This will be a chance for him to show a little more consistency to his game and not get caught up in last night's outing. The Duke game should be a good measuring stick to see how he handles success and matures into the player Michigan knows he can be.
Irvin has a big game for Michigan
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