Video: John Beilein, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin preview Detroit

John Beilein, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin met with media members on Wednesday afternoon to preview tomorrow’s game against Detroit. Beilein and Walton discussed seeing familiar faces on the Titans, while Irvin spoke about the improvements he has made to his jump shot. Watch them speak in the embedded media players below.

Walton and Irvin after the jump. [click to continue…]

A closer look at Zak Irvin’s hot start

Michigan 77, Bucknell 53-9

Zak Irvin is averaging 22 points per contest through Michigan’s first two games. He’s shooting 9-of-14 on twos and 7-of-11 on threes for a 78% effective field goal percentage.

His numbers through two games are not all too dissimilar to his statistics during Michigan’s Italian tour where he averaged 20.8 points per game with an 81.3 eFG%.

Against any competition, even against air, those shooting numbers are impressive. Irvin was locked in with his jumpshot last season, but now in a starting role he’s getting more shooting opportunities and making the most of them.

“I just want him to take open shots. He’s going to be a volume shooter, and he’s going to do it all year along,” John Beilein said after Michigan’s win over Bucknell..” And I’m sure he’ll have great nights, and I’m sure he’ll have some nights where he wished he’d made more. This is the way practices have been; this is the way it was in Europe. He’s going to get a lot of looks. He has a Hardaway ability to get his shot off. And now we’ll continue to work to get him those shots.”

The good news for Michigan isn’t so much that Irvin is making open threes, but that he’s becoming a more complete offensive player. Irvin hasn’t made a Nik Stauskas-type of jump into a primary ball-handler and creator, but here’s a look at how his points have been produced through two games and an exhibition.

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Five Key Plays: Bucknell at Michigan

Michigan had no difficulties dispatching Bucknell on Monday, jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead en route to a 77-53 win. Zak Irvin paced the Wolverines with 23 points, while Max Bielfeldt scored 18, a career-high. Here are five key plays from the win.

1) Michigan opens game with five defensive stops

After falling into an early nine-point hole in Saturday’s season opener against Hillsdale, the Wolverines looked more energetic on and off the ball defensively from the opening tip-off.

On the game’s first possession, Kameron Chatman and Derrick Walton trapped Steven Kaspar near the baseline, forcing a long pass to the top of the key. Despite a Caris LeVert foul, Bucknell eventually missed a jumper. On the next defensive opportunity, Mark Donnal got into position to draw a charge on Dom Hoffman, but the play was called as a travel.

Donnal and Zak Irvin both contested a Chris Hass three-pointer, helping force a miss, and then LeVert showed off his lateral quickness to help induce a turnover.

Following an inbounds play that had the 6-foot-5 Hass shooting over Irvin and Walton, the Wolverines’ defense had recorded five straight stops to begin the game, and, in turn, they had scored 10 points of their own.

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Max Bielfeldt shines in career night, but uncertainty remains in frontcourt

Michigan 77, Bucknell 53-23
Dustin Johnston

Max Bielfeldt didn’t just top his previous career-high scoring mark. He absolutely shattered it.

Entering as the first big man off the bench just three minutes into Monday night’s game against Bucknell, the senior made his presence felt immediately, knocking down an open three-pointer from the top of the key.

Less than three minutes later, he did it again, from the same spot on the floor.

By the time the first half had ended, Bielfeldt had tallied 13 points, more than tripling his previous game-high of four. He would finish the night with 18 points in 16 minutes.

“The last couple of days of practice, he has virtually been a man-child playing with our guys,” explained coach John Beilein. “He has just been very, very good.”

Bielfeldt’s surprising night was a welcome addition to the Wolverines’ offense. He scored more points Monday than he did in all of 2013-14 and also made as many three-pointers as he did last year.

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Game 2: Bucknell at Michigan Recap

Michigan 77, Bucknell 53-22

Michigan 77, Bucknell 53. Photo Gallery. Player Reaction. Beilein Presser. Box Score.

Max Bielfeldt wasn’t even in the conversation.

For the last six months we’ve picked apart seemingly every player and lineup combination that Michigan could feature. We wrote stories about returning stars, freshmen and returning stars. Bielfeldt’s name was mentioned only in passing, or when he underwent hip surgery.

He didn’t see the floor in Michigan’s season opener and it’s safe to say that more than a few eyebrows were raised when No. 44 got the call off the bench rather than Ricky Doyle or DJ Wilson.

Max Bielfeldt? The same player that managed just a 36% eFG% last season and recorded more than twice as many fouls as made baskets?

Bucknell freshman Nana Foulland appeared to feel the same way, immediately leaving Bielfeldt wide open for a pick-and-pop three-pointer from the top of the key. Then it went in. Then another went in. By the time halftime rolled around Bielfeldt had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. At the final buzzer Bielfeldt had a career high 18 points and had topped last year’s season totals of 15 points and six made field goals.

The 6-foot-7 Peoria native’s spark off the bench helped Michigan cruise to an easy 77-53 victory over Bucknell was never in doubt and added yet another layer to Michigan’s array of unproven frontcourt options.

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Video & Quotes: John Beilein recaps win over Bucknell

Michigan rode a 48-point first half to a 77-53 win over Bucknell on Monday in the first game of the Legends Classic. John Beilein wasn’t surprised by Max Bielfeldt’s 18-point performance, saying the senior center has been a “man-child” in recent practices. Watch Beilein’s postgame press conference in the embedded media player, and check out select quotes after the jump.

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