In some ways, Saturday afternoon belonged to Max Bielfeldt. In his final home game, Michigan’s lone senior earned his first career start and tallied his first career double-double, receiving numerous ovations in the process.

But the Senior Day festivities were overshadowed by a freshman, Aubrey Dawkins, who scored 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting with eight three-pointers — one shy of the program’s all-time record.

He capped the best performance of his young career with a thunderous alley-oop dunk, securing an eventual 79-69 win over Rutgers in the Wolverines’ regular-season finale.

“We have a chance against everybody,” John Beilein said about his team’s Big Ten tournament chances. “Obviously, if Aubrey is going to make eight threes every game, we have a much better chance.”

“Oh my gosh, that’s something else. Eight threes? That’s stupid. That’s ridiculous.”

As for Bielfeldt? He didn’t mind Dawkins getting some of the attention.

“He can steal my shine all he wants if he wants to do that the rest of the year and the rest of his career,” Bielfeldt said. “Oh my gosh, that’s something else. Eight threes? That’s stupid. That’s ridiculous.”

If you were worried Dawkins was a one-hit wonder after his breakout night against Illinois in December, the forward has given reasons to believe otherwise. In his last two games, he has scored 52 points, and he made 48% of his threes in Big Ten play.

Dawkins also finished Big Ten play with the best effective field goal percentage (63.3%) and true shooting percentage in the conference (65.8%) among qualified players.

Not bad for a freshman who figured to be a backup for much of the season and didn’t start until Jan. 20.

“There’s been tremendous growth in him,” Beilein said. “When he got here, he could shoot, but he had to get it off quicker. He’s worked hard at that. He has a short memory when it comes to when he misses. He gets back out there, loading the gun, shooting it again. He works really hard at this, really happy for him.”

Dawkins scored early and often against Rutgers, hitting his first four shots and adding a pair of free throws within the first eight minutes for 14 quick points.

He made three of the Wolverines’ first four buckets after halftime — two three-pointers and a layup created by a Spike Albrecht baseline drive — to put his team ahead by 23.

“There’s nobody in our practices that we can guard that can do that,” said Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan. “They were unselfish, they swung the ball, he had a hot hand. Game over.”

At that point, with 16 minutes left and six treys, tying Garde Thompson’s nine-triple mark set in 1987 became a very real possibility. Dawkins connected on back-to-back threes with 10 minutes left, but his attempt at the record fell short on a miss five minutes later.

“We have more games to come,” Dawkins said, explaining he’ll have more chances at the history books.

The next opportunity comes Thursday against the Illini in a must-win game for the Wolverines’ NIT chances. As Beilein explained, if Dawkins can keep up his hot streak, he likes their odds.

  • Champswest

    So are we going to get to enjoy Dawkins for 2 or 3 years? The way he is playing lately, you could make a case that he is already as good as GRIII was as a sophomore.

    • Nick

      That is funny. If I were a NBA GM with a choice between GRIII last year and Dawkins this year I would take Dawkins in a heartbeat.

      • I love the improvements that Aubrey has made, but I really think GR3 is one of the most under appreciated Michigan players in a while.

        Dawkins is still a shooter first and foremost (60% of FGA are threes) and while he has the athleticism, Glenn was on another level as a finisher around the basket. GR3’s ability to roam the short corner and provide himself for drop off passes and alley oops was extremely valuable and a reason that Michigan’s offense was so effective.

        Glenn wasn’t a great rebounder, but Aubrey is still a poor one and not to mention he was 30 pounds heavier.

        I would probably say the only thing that Aubrey does better than Glenn — right now — is shoot the three. And that’s not a knock on him, just a comparison of where he’s at in his development.

        • jlustig22

          I don’t really seem much of a comparison between the game of GR3 and Dawkins. If anything, Dawkins compares more to a young Hardaway. Hardaway shot the 3 extremely well his freshman year during the Big 10 season. He wasn’t much of a defender or rebounder and still had limited ball skills. Dawkins probably has even less ball skills than Hardaway as a freshman. He can score on catch and shoot 3’s, in transition and on a few pin downs but he’s not going to create his own offense very often.

          I don’t know that Dawkins and Irvin are the ideal starters as your 3 and 4 because of defense and rebounding limitations but they both need to play big minutes. I think Dawkins has a bright future and can be really good if he can improve his ball handling. I assume defense and rebounding will come. It took Hardaway and Irvin a while to develop into even average defenders and rebounders. Dawkins has a long way to go to even be an average rebounder but he has the athleticism now he just needs the mindset and strength.

          • I agree w/r/t Hardaway, the GR3 comparison is made more often because they play more similar roles in the offense.

            Hardaway had a great 10-15 game stretch where he thrived in the ball screen game as a freshman, but earlier on he was in a more similar role to Dawkins.

            The mental improvements he should be able to make on defense will be huge.

          • A2MIKE

            I agree that he has leaps and bounds to improve on defense, and unfortunately, he is not the only one. The team as a whole needs to improve a ton if they want to compete. We are never going to be as good on offense as we were last year.

          • The defensive mistakes we saw from MAAR/Dawkins this year are things that are certain to improve with experience.

            I don’t think we’ll be as good as we were on offense the last two years, but probably won’t be as bad as this year’s offense any time soon either.

          • Mattski

            Thanks for injecting some sanity into the constant harping about GRIII. Could be wrong, but sometimes there just seems to be a bit of a herd mentality on issues like this that severely clouds judgement. Our desire to discipline these guys, our weird ways of assuming we understand their emotions, development, or things pressing on them is something that somebody should write a dissertation about. Too strong a tang of Protestant severity about it all for my taste–we sit on our coaches and preach about how they should be more disciplined, kids who have already give their lives for the game wtf. The guy is STILL very young.

          • Mattski

            Will be interesting to see what happens to Glenn in Philly. Still don’t understand why I can no longer plus people?

          • Pretty sure you have to be registered/logged into Disqus now.

          • Mattski

            Logged in and working; thanks.

        • Chris De Sana

          I was hoping for far more from GR3 but it just never developed and I have a feeling the system probably did not help.

          • I think a lot of people feel this way, but I don’t really get it. Robinson was an elite finisher, double-digit scorer and super efficient for two years. He added the mid-range shot to his game as a sophomore and started every game for probably the best two year run Michigan has had in a long time.

          • Chris De Sana

            Dylan we agree and that is why I made the comment in regards to the system. How many opportunities did he have to show his mid range game, not many that I recall. We have talked about this before that he would have been a great candidate to come off those curl picks and cuts to knock down the elbow jumper but it never seemed to be part of the offense on a consistent basis.

        • MAZS

          Seriously, I don’t get why GRIII has become a whipping boy. Is it because he didn’t reach his perceived potential? Is it pique because he didn’t return? GRIII was an excellent player who, as you say, was an integral part of the best two years of Michigan basketball in the past 20 years. I have been stunned by Dawkins 3-point shooting, but he isn’t anywhere near the balanced player GRIII was as a freshman.

  • psickert1

    I really like the fact that coach Belien is considerimg bringing Back Max. That would be great. If not, I know that Max will have a superb year wherever he lands. Although the season didn’t go as well as some hope… I still love this team because the were very competitive despite the adversity and injuries.

    • JohnNavarreIsMyHero

      Well said. I almost wish that we somehow were able to retain Max. Very impressive young man and well spoken. He has worked hard and made himself into a very solid player. He will succeed in anything he does.

  • JJ3ball

    I think Aubrey Dawkins is a Jimmy King clone. Their games are very similar: athletic leapers, good set shot 3, need to work on handle.
    Long term, I think Dawkins might fare better, because he is getting superior coaching