ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Well that came out of nowhere, and if anyone did see a night like that coming from Max Bielfeldt, head to Las Vegas as soon as possible.
Four-points, that was the previous career-high for Bielfeldt heading into Monday’s 77-53 win over Bucknell.
Consider that smashed as Bielfeldt finished his night with 18-points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in just 16 minutes of action.
Inserted into the game ahead of all other big men on the Michigan bench, Bielfeldt stepped onto the floor and instantly knocked down his first three-point attempt from the top of the arc.
“I got in a rhythm and the shot was feeling good,” Bielfeldt said afterward. “Just got in a rhythm and did the best I could. I was at the top of the key and opportunity was there and I just took it.”
It wouldn’t end there, Bielfeldt knocking down his other two attempts from three-point land as well, no one able to confirm whether or not any actually even hit the rim.
“I’ve been putting in work with that,” Bielfeldt said. “I think also with the surgery I think my balance in my shot is better, I’m not favoring a side or anything. It’s just feeling a lot better.”
Bielfeldt underwent left hip surgery back in April, forced to miss a large portion of the summer and unable to play in Michigan’s four game Italy exhibition tour in August.
Originally redshirting as a freshman because of that hip issue, along with a knee injury, Bielfeldt says his body is feeling great.
“They just went in and shaved off part of the bone,” he said. “I had a torn labrum so they fixed up the labrum as well.”
According to both Bielfeldt and John Beilein, the only reason No. 44 didn’t leave the bench is to allow the freshmen more minutes on the floor.
But things changed quickly between Saturday and Monday, Beilein making the call to get the man they call the ‘Moose’ some early time.
“If you look at Max’s whole this year, we go to Europe he would’ve had a great opportunity to play but he could not play,” Beilein said. “And then he was not really in shape -- he just made his sprints maybe 10 days ago so he wasn’t in that type of shape. But he still wasn’t outstanding in practice.
“And then the last couple of days in practice he’s virtually been a man child playing with our guys. He’s just been very good. So, after yesterday’s practice where the Bucknell scout team beat Michigan, and he was the star on that team, I said I don’t care.
“He and I met today to go over a couple plays to make sure he knew it, and he didn’t know (this), but I made my mind up early yesterday; he’s the first big man off the bench.”
An injury riddled career, Bielfeldt was actually reclassified from a redshirt junior to a senior in the off-season. Because of that, the Illinois native is in his last year in the Wolverine’s uniform, handling the switch well according to his coach.
“Like a champ, absolutely like a champ,” Beilein said. “And it’s a great opportunity for him cause he can actually go somewhere and play in his fifth year if he wants to but he really played great today.
“It was really great to see this because he’s got another level; think of the people he’s sitting behind, (Jordan) Morgan, (Jon) Horford, (Mitch) McGary, now he’s got a chance and he’ll get another opportunity.”
Bielfeldt is just hoping that opportunity isn’t wasted the rest of this season.
“Long season ahead of us and a lot of games,” Bielfeldt said. “If that was the highlight of my senior season then I don’t want that to be my highlight. I’ve got to capitalize on that and keep doing what I can do when I’m given opportunities that I am.”