Beilein Says Doyle Has Earned Starting Job

After strong performances off the bench in the non-conference, Michigan coach John Beilein confirmed freshman center Ricky Doyle will start Saturday vs. SMU.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The writing has been on the wall for quite some time.

Michigan’s backup center through the first 10 games of the season has been true freshman Ricky Doyle.

In that time, Doyle has shown flashes of consistent play inside on both ends of the floor and heading into a critical home match-up with SMU Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m., Michigan coach John Beilein is making the move, inserting Doyle into the starting lineup in place of redshirt freshman Mark Donnal.

“I think that’s what we’ll go,” Beilein said. “I think we watched film today and he’s played really very well. He’s improved in a lot of areas but that would be good to assume.”

And I don’t think Doyle will make a donkey out of you and me, coach.

No, Doyle’s numbers aren’t eye popping in the grand scheme of things, averaging just 6.9 points and three rebounds per game, actually leading the team in offensive rebounding by a wide margin (19).

Looking a little closer, Doyle is also shooting 69-percent from the field, good for the best percentage on the team for a player with a minimum of 36 attempts from the field.

“I feel that he’s played the best of any of the big guys so far,” Beilein said. “We tried one thing, and let’s just try it with the five guys that have played the best on the court right at the beginning.

“And see if we can give Mark as well, more comfortable with a role of here’s what I do, I go in and this is what I do and I’m going to do it well and I’m going to play as many minutes as coach will put me in there for.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, Doyle averages 16.8 minutes per game compared to Donnal’s 13.8.

With standout performances including a 10-points, three rebound showing in Michigan’s win over Oregon in Brooklyn on Nov. 24. Against the most formidable frontcourt the Wolverines have faced this year outside of Saturday’s loss at No. 3 Arizona, Doyle scored 12 and grabbed six boards in a home win over Syracuse.

Praising Doyle’s energy and aggression off the bench early in the non-conference season, Beilein now hopes for the same spark from the tip as he manages the Florida natives’ minutes.

“I think he plays very hard,” Beilein said. “He’s in good shape and he’s improving everyday but his body, the way his body is, it’s tough to be an antelope.

“Just running up and down the floor for him is a little bit more difficult than it would be for Caris (LeVert), just cause of his body type.”

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