Michigan Wolverines: Max Bielfeldt

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Visions of Mitch McGary’s past came bubbling up Saturday afternoon as he stood waiting to set a screen for his point guard, Trey Burke.

The Michigan freshman forward stood firmly, and Briante Weber had no chance. He ran right into the Wall of McGary and crumpled to the ground for a little while, unable to get up.

The hit, crushing Weber and part of VCU’s spirit in Michigan’s 78-53 win in the round of 32, harked back to a former life for McGary -- and another sport, football. A 6-foot-6, 190-pound tight end as a freshman at Chesterton High School in northwest Indiana, McGary loved playing football. Until he kept growing.

“My dad made me quit,” McGary said. “I was getting too tall.”

[+] EnlargeMitch McGary
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsMitch McGary's fierce play in the paint on Saturday helped deliver Michigan to the Sweet 16.
Michigan and coach John Beilein should be happy about that. McGary focused on basketball and a continual growth to the 6-10, 255-pound body of enthusiasm he now inhabits.

Devastating hits, such as what he did to Weber, are merely an energy point for Michigan. McGary is the Wolverines' bruiser and interior presence, something they have been waiting for in Beilein’s first five years in Ann Arbor.

McGary almost shrugged discussing the hit, with a sly smile yet insisting it was unintentional. That is part of what makes McGary a question mark for how good this Michigan team could be in the final two weeks of the season.

“Mitch, his confidence was incredible today, easy drop-offs and offensive boards that he got and he just kept going,” said Michigan redshirt freshman forward Max Bielfeldt. “He can go on a run, and he’s just very talented. When he gets his game going, he’s really, really tough to stop.

“He’s a guy, when he gets going, he’s going to keep going, and his enthusiasm keeps his game at a high level.”

This enthusiasm has been something Michigan has missed a lot of the season. Burke is a savvy, cool player who rarely displays emotion. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. feeds off emotion, but it comes in spurts.

McGary is like a loose pinball, bouncing all over the place, lighting up bonuses and giving everyone around him added bursts of energy.

Especially if he plays the way he did Saturday, with career highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds against the Rams on 10-of-11 shooting. Michigan reinserted McGary into the starting lineup in the round of 64 against South Dakota State, and he had 13 points and nine boards.

Saturday was something different, though. It was what Michigan had hoped for all along. Although the Wolverines have multiple contributors playing well, McGary is the one who turns them into a title contender.

“He now brings another element to the table,” Michigan assistant coach Bacari Alexander said. “Sometimes we joke about them guys being the Justice League.

“If Trey Burke is Batman and Tim is Robin, I’ll tell you what: Mitch McGary might be Hercules.”

WolverineNation Mailbag 

February, 27, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The NFL combine has come and gone and wide receiver Denard Robinson (still, so weird to write that) performed how most thought he would perform -- inconsistently. And because of Robinson’s appearance at the combine, that meant he was not at the Michigan basketball game this past weekend, but it didn’t matter because there were plenty of other football faces in the crowd that people wanted to know about. Overall, it has been a pretty good week for Michigan sports, so let’s chat about it.

Next week Mike will take care of the mailbag so send your questions to him (@MikeRothstein, michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com). And now, on to this week’s questions:

WolverineNation Roundtable 

December, 27, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- We’ve reached the end of Michigan’s season, as the Wolverines have one game to play and just a few more days of preparation for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.

Then there’s recruiting, Signing Day and the No. 2 basketball team in the country to chat about. Our staff takes a look at the Outback Bowl -- and a little bit of basketball -- in the final Roundtable of 2012.

1. So, who wins the Outback Bowl and why?

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WolverineNation Mailbag 

December, 19, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- I kind of felt like Santa Claus with all the questions/mail in my inbox. Only, instead of an iPod, everyone wants info. And I'm not expecting anyone to send me cookies if I answer your questions, but in case you do, feel free to just send them straight to Tom since he is our site's sweets connoisseur.

Next week Mike is taking care of the mailbag, so send your questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or tweet them to @mikerothstein. Now, let's get to this week's questions.

1) Kevin Ujvary via Twitter: Do you think Michigan will be able to get Derrick Green with David Dawson in the fold?

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For the first time since Michigan coach John Beilein has been at Michigan he’s going to have quite a few personnel options. The coach, who is known for his four-guard offense, now has enough big men in his program to run a stronger inside game with two primary post players.

“We have four or five, really six, that could play there at different times,” Beilein said. “That’s the versatility I love to have.”

[+] EnlargeJordan Morgan
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteJordan Morgan will get some help down low this season from four-star freshman Mitch McGary.
Between adding 6-foot-10, 250-pound freshman Mitch McGary to the roster and redshirt junior Jordan Morgan (6-foot-8, 250 pounds), who picked up the majority of the minutes last season, the Wolverines have two very strong inside players. The Wolverines also return healthy versions of redshirt sophomore Jon Horford and redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt. And on top of that, freshman forward Glenn Robinson III could be a Zack Novak-type player, with an extra touch of athleticism and finishing finesse.

In that group, Beilein has an arsenal of big-man weapons that rivals nearly every Big Ten school, and it could be the biggest key to this season.

“Offensively, it’s a lot of size and there are a lot of different guys who have different skills,” Morgan said. “Defensively, when you add that length and size when it comes to rebounding and contesting shots and just being a solid team overall it’s definitely going to help.”

Overall, it’ll make the Wolverines more difficult to game plan for. Opponents will need more defensive sets to counteract the threat of a two-post player offense from Michigan. And while that has been helpful, what Beilein likes most is how big of a presence his team has been on the glass so far.

Last season, the Wolverines struggled on the boards. Throughout the entire year, they were outrebounded and when it came to the offensive glass, Michigan accounted for 8.6 offensive rebounds per game, ranking 10th in the Big Ten. With the ability to grab those boards and either put back easy shots or kick it out to give the Wolverines an extra possession, Michigan will have an added element of offensive threats.

“It’s a different way of scoring,” Beilein said. “This is a good rebounding team. … It’s OK to score off an offensive rebound -- we haven’t gotten a lot of that. And if we can get 10 points off offensive rebounding, either through kickbacks or finishes, that’s a good thing.”

Defensively, the added length allows Michigan to have a bigger presence in the paint and force opponents to play the Wolverines differently. Michigan will be able to contest and alter shots more easily, and again, be a bigger threat on the glass.

But ultimately, until Beilein has more opportunities to really watch his team play together, he’s not positive how the addition of big men will affect the Wolverines’ total game. However, he did say that he spent more time cutting NBA game film of teams that featured two primary post players.

“I don’t know what were going to do yet until I can watch people over 20 hours and 20 more hours and 20 more hours,” Beilein said. “And then we get to the Big Ten schedule and we’ll be able to make other changes.”

WolverineNation roundtable 

October, 4, 2012
Craig RohAP Photo/Carlos OsorioDefensive end Craig Roh has 11 tackles and half a sack thus far in 2012.
Michigan's football season is nearing the halfway point and its basketball season is a week away from starting so Tom, Mike and Chantel jump in on three questions surrounding football, basketball and the omnipresent football recruiting in this week's WolverineNation roundtable.

1.) Michigan's defensive line has suffered several injuries in the two-deep this season. Which player is most vital to keep healthy through the conference season?

Tom Van Haaren: I know his stats aren't off the charts, but I think I might go with Craig Roh here. Nathan Brink is out with an injury and freshman Chris Wormley is out with a torn ACL. Behind Roh there isn't much outside of some true freshmen. They could move Jibreel Black over, but you're kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul with that. I think Roh has actually done a good job at his position and they need him to stay healthy.

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As Michigan basketball coach John Beilein and his staff return to the road for July's second evaluation period, he might not be able to talk with recruits but he has noticed a change.

Winning, facilities and renewed name recognition can do that.

“There’s been really positive feedback and people have great confidence we are heading in the right direction," Beilein said. "This facility and our success over the past couple of years helps that.”

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WolverineNation Roundtable 

May, 24, 2012
Roy RoundtreeRick Osentoski/US PresswireSenior WR Roy Roundtree will switch from No. 12 to the honorary No. 21.
Each week the writers at WolverineNation sit down and discuss three pertinent issues regarding Michigan sports. This week they look at the No. 21 football jersey, Michigan basketball coach John Beilein's system and 2014 football offers.

1. It was announced last week that wide receiver Roy Roundtree was given the No. 21 uniform, were you surprised to find that out?

Tom Van Haaren: No, I don't think I was surprised. I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be announced right now, but it wasn't surprising. I think there's some motivation factor with the jersey, and I think Roundtree has shown that he deserves that jersey. He's the most deserving on the team of the receivers, there's no doubt about that.

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John Beilein always wants to be in the Big Ten’s footprint.

As the sixth-year Michigan basketball coach discussed his recruiting philosophy during a wide-ranging conversation with reporters Thursday, he explained the states comprising the Big Ten will often be a focus of his recruiting.

“The footprint of where we are recruiting is still the Big Ten,” Beilein said. “Neighboring states are always good.”

Those neighboring states will make up much of the Michigan roster the next two seasons.

(Read full post)

Michigan roundtable 

April, 12, 2012
Joe BoldenMiller Safrit/ESPN.comFreshman LB Joe Bolden, an early enrollee, is a player to keep an eye on in the spring game.
The Michigan spring scrimmage is Saturday, Trey Burke is back for another season in Ann Arbor, and the Wolverines picked up commitment No. 17 on Tuesday night.

Just another week around the Michigan program.

However, there are many topics to discuss as the final week before the two big Michigan sports -- football and men's basketball -- officially hit their offseasons.

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Basketball banquet roundup 

April, 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After a season in which the Michigan basketball team won a share of the Big Ten title, the Wolverines' end-of-season banquet entitled a "celebration" seemed just that. It was jovial and lighthearted, jokes were made and shots were taken at teammates.

Even Michigan basketball coach John Beilein got in on the action.

While introducing each class he picked on juniors Matt Vogrich and Blake McLimans, telling the crowd both needed to get a hair cut. Later, he looked over at Vogrich and asked, "Have I really never started you? I must not know what I'm doing."

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QOTW: Pick your super power 

March, 5, 2012
Kevin KogerLon Horwedell/Icon SMIKevin Koger said his super power would be flight, which would make it easy to get to class on time.
Question of the week is a weekly feature at WolverineNation where we ask Michigan athletes and coaches all the same questions and publish their best answers each Monday.

This week's question: If you could have any super power, which would it be and why?

MATT VOGRICH, Michigan basketball player: “I would want to be able to fly, because everyone knows I can’t jump that high and it would be really cool to be able to jump really high and fly, basketball-wise. I think that’d be really helpful. Everyone knows I’m not the most athletic person on the team, so that comes to mind. I would also take being a mind reader because I’m always wondering what people are thinking and it’d be cool to know that at all times.”

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- He had hoped the pain would disappear. That it would stop. That the tendinitis plaguing Max Bielfeldt and his knees in high school would no longer be an issue when he came to college.

Then he arrived at Michigan this summer as a freshman. He tried running and jumping and playing basketball. And the pain that started after his junior year in high school wouldn’t go away.

If anything, as Michigan basketball coach John Beilein began instructing him on how to properly land and jump off of two feet, that pain intensified.

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Quick hits from Beilein presser

February, 17, 2012
Michigan basketball coach John Beilein just finished up his press availability before the No. 19 Wolverines face No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday night at 9 p.m. on ESPN, part of the College GameDay coming to Ann Arbor, Mich. this weekend.

The highlights, as always, are in easy to read bullet form:

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WolverineNation Mailbag 

February, 15, 2012
Denard RobinsonGregory Shamus/Getty ImageIt's safe to say that the tradition of Taylor Lewan throwing Denard Robinson in the air will carry over to next season.
Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and ate his or her fair share of chocolate and candy. Whether you enjoyed that day or not, I have a perfect way for you to celebrate the day after Valentine’s Day … Wednesday’s mailbag. This will help you get over your chocolate-induced coma or cry fest.

We love hearing from our readers. If you have any questions for next week’s mailbag send them on to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com.

Carol, DC alum: We’ve seen the pregame rituals with David Molk/Jack Miller and Taylor Lewan/Denard Robinson. Any thoughts on what we might see next year?

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Michigan C Cites Concussions In Decision To Quit
Joe Schad discusses how concussions and a concern over long-term health have helped Michigan center Jack Miller decide not to play football his senior year.