Beilein: Play 'Good' To Get Freshman Time

John Beilein discussed what U-M needs to do to get its freshman more playing time versus NJIT.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With NJIT next up on Michigan’s schedule, the Highlanders could give key Wolverines’ some much needed playing time.

Specifically freshman Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who both have played in five of U-M’s seven games this season with limited minutes early on their careers.

But could that all change on Saturday?

Well, maybe, that will depend if No. 17 Michigan (6-1) is playing its best basketball against NJIT, U-M coach John Beilein says.

“Only if we’re good,” Beilein said. “I mean, if we’re playing well and get ahead of them. NJIT and Coppin State are two games I bet people are saying ‘Maybe they get a chance.’ But you just don’t know in this business. I wouldn’t think Eastern Michigan, SMU and Arizona are games that everybody is saying, ‘that guys who don’t play are going to play.’

“So with this game with New Jersey Tech, we got to come to play.”

While both players seem likely to play against NJIT (2-5), a big reason behind their lack of playing time is Michigan’s jam packed schedule to start the season.

“Because we had all those games in a row,” Beilein said. “We saw they got stale in their development. We had those three games in six days. Another three games in six days. So they worked out for a half hour [on Thursday]. They are working out extra right now as we speak before our film. Will find out, I see it in practice they are getting things.”

Getting a comfortable lead to get the younger guy minutes is an extra motivation versus NJIT, Zak Irvin says, who noted they’ll need the freshman to contribute more further down the road.

“We can’t take any game lightly,” Irvin said. “You know the opponent we got coming up [on Saturday] is going to be big game for us. Hopefully we play well and can get the guys in the game so the younger guys can get some more experience. Because we got a big one coming up against Arizona.”

The one thing Dawkins and Abdur-Rahkman have grasped early though, is the ability to defend in practice, Beilein says.

“Usually it’s defense, actually. I see the game slowing down for them there, then will see it more,” Beilein said. “But it may be one or the other or two as we move forward.”

Mayeb. As for now, No. 17 Michigan (6-1) plays host to MJIT (2-5) this Saturday at noon at Crisler Center.

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