ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- For the first time all season John Beilein had another wing scorer to go to on Michigan’s bench.
“That’s huge for us to get guys who can make shots like that,” Beilein said. “And as I’ve said on the air with most freshmen it’s not a matter of making shots it’s a matter of playing defense early in their career.
“He continues to learn so much about defense, we haven’t been able to get him in there as much or just learn the nuances of some things we do offensively. It’s huge just to have another guy that can stretch the floor for us.”
Dawkins scored a career-high 20-points including a blazing 6-for-8 on three-point attempts, keying a late Michigan run with two triples to send the game into extra time.
To put this night in perspective, Dawkins had scored just 15-points the entire season heading into Tuesday’s Big Ten opener.
“They always say be ready to the bench guys cause anytime something can happen in the game and you’ve got to be ready to play,” Dawkins said. “They always tell us to be ready and that’s what it’s all about, stay ready, stay focused on the game and keep our minds right, when your number is called, do your best.”
Heading into Tuesday’s win over Illinois, Dawkins had shot just 20-percent (2-for-10) from beyond the arc.
Looking for instant scoring off the bench in his limited role, Beilein admits patience is required for young players adjusting to it.
“Having guys that come off the bench and make shots is really difficult to do,” Beilein said. “Very few young men can do that. Just think about it, they’ve been starting their whole life. They’ve got a usual warm-up. Now all the sudden it’s like get in there Aubrey and he’s handed the ball and he’s open.
“It’s difficult. Few people can do it really well and that was very encouraging for Aubrey today and I think you’ll see him in that role more often going forward.”
Teammate and now sophomore Zak Irvin spent his entire freshman season coming off the bench, doing so in very productive fashion.
Turns out, Irvin has offered some advice to Dawkins on how to be ready to come in and contribute.
“We see it everyday in practice,” Irvin said. “His nickname is automatic cause whenever he shoots it it’s going in. It’s nice to see all that hard work he’s been putting in in practice and on his own is paying off.”