Beilein Sees Added Depth in Frontcourt

Michigan head coach John Beilein reflects upon his team's 77-63 win over Bucknell. After keeping Max Bielfeldt on the bench for the entirety of the first game he gave the veteran big man minutes in game two. Beilfeldt responded with an 18-point explosion.

Opening statement ... "Like I mentioned with Hillsdale, we're playing against teams that really have good programs. You're not playing against just a team, you're playing against a program and that's going to be very good for us. We played a great first half and in the second half, we certainly weren't going to duplicate that. But at the same time, we have a lot of respect for Bucknell. (Chris) Haas from Pellston (Mich.) had a tremendous game; he's a tremendous shooter. It shows you that good players are all through division one. They weren't going to give in; they were going to hang in there with us because they have pride and they have a plan. They have had a very good basketball program for years. We're pleased that we could get away with a win and we could get a guy like Max Bielfeldt to have the opportunity that he had, as well as getting our veterans that have not played big minutes a lot of minutes and still continuing to feed the young guys as they try to get their feet on the ground."

?On Max Bielfeldt's involvement in the game ... ?"If you look at Max's whole year, when we went to Europe he had a great opportunity to play but he could not play. Then he was not really in shape. He just made his sprints maybe ten days ago, so he wasn't in that type of shape. But, he still wasn't outstanding in practice. In the last couple of days of practice, he's been a man-child playing with our guys. He has been very, very good. So after yesterday's practice when the Bucknell scout team beat Michigan, he was the star on that team. He and I met today and we went over a couple of plays to make sure that he knew it. He didn't know it, but I had made my mind up earlier yesterday that he is the first big man off the bench."

On possible changes in the front court ... ?"I would like to see this consistently in practice over and over again. But we know that this has been the issue. He (Bielfeldt) hasn't been comfortable getting into the game and having a lot of time. So I think he had great confidence today and sometimes as a senior that just happens. We'll wait and see how it plays out. I won't be making any knee-jerk reactions, but I would assume that he'll be in the game with Detroit."

?On avoiding another slow start ... ?"We talked about it. We had great shots the other day and we missed all three. They made a couple of really tough shots, so it wasn't like we came out there without energy. At the same time I talked about that. I said 'We're in a championship right now. We're trying to win the Legends Classic and to do that; we have to win all four. Let's get this first win, but champions don't come out slow. Champions come out from the get go.' We did that."

?On (Derrick) Walton's rebounding performance ... ?"Instead of sending our guards out to the outlet, we send them to the backboard because there's so much cleanup. You can see his vertical and you can see that he gets up. He has a high care level to get rebounds. So you're going to see him being a leading rebounder many times while the other guys may be just blocking out other players."

??On distributing the basketball ... ?"There were a couple of plays there that were really good. We had step-in threes instead of guarded threes. When you have Derrick (Walton) and Spike (Albrecht) out there, that's not a big back court but that's a smart back court. I loved seeing the development of Zak Irvin right now, seeing the floor. Caris (LeVert) has 15 assists and no turnovers in two games, but Zak only shot it when he had it last year. Now, it's a different deal. He's seeing the floor and he's doing some good things. He's driving down the lane and kicking it to the corner. There's a whole development going on. This is what teachers love, to watch it, although it's painful sometimes.

?On Zak Irvin's play ... ?"I just want him to take open shots. He's going to be a volume shooter and he's going to do it all year long. I'm sure he'll have great nights and I'm sure he'll have some nights where he wished that he had made more. But, this is the way practices have been and the way it was in Europe. He's going to get a lot of looks. He has the ability like (Tim) Hardaway to get his shot off, and now we're continuing to work to get him good shots."


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