November 30, 2012
Borton's Blog: Eyeing big feat
Playing on the No. 3 basketball team in the nation is a lot of fun. Not playing a lot on the No. 3 team has to be less so, but redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt isn't complaining. He's just working.
Bielfeldt, the 6-7, 245-pounder out of Peoria, Ill., gets to go home tonight when the Wolverines head for a match-up against Bradley tomorrow. The second-year Wolverine knows he'll have plenty of supporters in the stands, citing his mom as the point woman for securing tickets.
U-M head coach John Beilein insists Bielfeldt isn't that far from seeing more than the 5.5 minutes of court time he's presently averaging. But when you've got a veteran starter in redshirt junior Jordan Morgan, a 6-10, 250-pounder in redshirt sophomore Jon Horford and another 6-10, 250-pounder in freshman Mitch McGary in front of you, minutes aren't easy to come by.
"Max Bielfeldt is really playing well," Beilein said. "We're trying to get him in there, somewhere, but he's got some pretty good guys that have been in front of him. He's right there - at least in practice. He hasn't gotten the opportunity in games yet.
"He shoots the ball well, he rebounds it well. It's like the backup quarterback who is really good, but there's also a pretty good quarterback in front of him. When do you take minutes away from someone? He's just got to hang in there and keep working. He's probably 6-7, and he plays an awfully big 6-7 in practice."
Bielfeldt says he embraces the challenge, but that it is a tough lineup to crack.
"At the bigs, we've got so much size and talent and experience," Bielfeldt said. "It's tough to get in there. With us being a really successful team so far, it makes the minutes not as painful. Obviously, I want to work in there more. It's tough, but it's a lot of fun.
"Those guys are my really good friends. It's fun competing against them. It's a great time."
The redshirt freshman also echoed Beilein's recent words about the competitiveness of Michigan's practices this season.
"We have the scout team beating the first team, it seems like almost every day," Bielfeldt said. "The talent we have, and everyone can turn the switch on. It makes it really fun, and makes it really competitive as well.
"Everyone, especially the guys who aren't getting the minutes, are fighting for spots. The guys who are know they're not that far behind them. They're fighting to keep their spots and show what they can do. Practice is really competitive, and it just makes us a better team."
Bielfeldt insists he's just trying to fit in with the team, despite sporting different shoes than the rest of the Wolverines. His extra-wide feet make it extremely tough to get him outfitted properly.
"He'll probably never wear the same shoes the team wears," Beilein noted. "The ones from Maui, the aqua ones? He's been wearing those for a year now. We finally found some for him. He'll have these gray shoes on a great deal."
Bielfeldt wants to get those shoes onto the court with increasing frequency. On a team with front-court depth unprecedented in the Beilein era at Michigan, that's a tall task.
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