ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan basketball team will open its Big Ten slate against Illinois on Wednesday. After having it easy for the past handful of games in the non-conference schedule, U-M head coach John Beilein knows that the competition will be much stiffer.
However, that doesn't stop him from being pleased with what he's seen so far.
"You look at our numbers right now and they're really good," Beilein said. "They are numbers that are great quality but its non-conference. If you ever have those numbers in the conference we're vying for a championship. Keeping those numbers up now when the talent is better is going to be hard."
Beilein was asked if he saw a certain statistic that stood out to him above others. He wasn't exactly surprised with what he saw on the stat sheet as he knew what he had with the team.
He did, however, mention areas that needs work.
"I was real pleased with our stats when they came out," Beilein said. "There was nothing that really jumped out that I think I didn't already realize with the team. I do know that one stat that jumped out, and I think I might've mentioned this, when we got under 40% defensive field goal percentage, that was like fifth or sixth in the league. There's people that were at 35... Our offensive rebounding numbers are really low but so is Maryland and Maryland has a heck of a team. You sort of look at it and say 'okay, this is who we are' we can't change some of these stats that we have, what can we do to work on with these blind spots."
An important piece to the road to success in Big Ten play will be on the shoulders, or back, of forward Zak Irvin. Of course, Caris LeVert cannot be forgotten, but a healthy Irvin can certainly make his mark on the court.
Beilein doesn't expect Irvin to return to full health this season.
"He's really looked good in practice," Beilein said. "I don't think he's going to be 100% the whole year from where he left off last year. I think that another summer of getting his body right again will probably get him back to 100% where he was. He's probably much better where he was as a freshman, however, that one summer that he spent here. That was really helpful for him to get him jumping, rebounding and his quickness, defense and everything."