Irvin: More 'Confidence' in Hot Start

Zak Irvin scored 23-points in Michigan's 77-53 win over Bucknell to lead the Wolverines.It was his second straight 20-point performance this season.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Zak Irvin isn’t a role player anymore – he’s more like the leading man.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore is coming off a game-high 23-points on 8-of-13 shooting -- including 4-of-5 from three-point range -- in Michigan’s 77-53 win over Bucknell on Monday night. That gives Irvin back-to-back 20-point outings for the first time in his career. He scored 21-points in U-M’s season opening 92-68 win over Hillsdale College on Saturday.

“I’m being put in opportunities to be able to score the basketball,” Irvin said, when asked about his two game performance thus far.

In his freshman season, Irvin was the seventh man in the rotation, averaging 7.9 points. He was mostly viewed as three-point specialist, and finished second on the team with 62 made three’s at a 42.5 percent rate.

“Zak Irvin now, he only shot it when he had it last year,” U-M coach John Beilein said. “Now it’s a different deal. He’s seeing the floor. He’s doing some good things. He’s driving down the lane kick it in the corner. There is a whole development going on. It’s what teachers love to watch it.

“Even though it’s painful at times.”

But this season it’s a different Irvin, he’s become more of an all-around player and has embraced the opportunity to become an everyday starter. Through two games, he averaging 22.0 points, shooting 64.0 percent from the field and had made seven 3s.

“I have a lot more confidence than I did last year,” Irvin said. “It’s not only coming from the coaching staff, but my teammates as well. I am definitely hearing a lot from Caris [LeVert] and Derrick [Walton Jr.] to just keep taking my next shot, even when I do miss. To always have the next shot mentality.”

“If know Zak, and if you have been following him, he’s never been shy [of shooting],” Walton Jr. said of Irvin. “He come into the game and makes big shots for us.”

And that confidence has been showcased by the 25 shots he’s taken in the first two games.

“I just want him to take open shots,” Beilein said.”He’s going to be a volume shooter. And he’s going to do it all year long. And he’s going to have great nights. I’m sure he’ll have some nights where he wished made more.”

Michigan (2-) plays host to Detroit this Thursday at 6 p.m.

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