Michigan’s first true road game of the season, at Bradley, coincided with the first career start for freshman guard Nik Stauskas who is undoubtedly been the biggest surprise throughout the Wolverine’s 7-0 start. Normally not the most advantageous time for a freshman to hop into the starting lineup, Beilein, who admittedly wondered how the newly crowned Canadian sensation might handle it, was quickly assured by his young shooter that he was more than ready for the atmosphere.
“It was as loud as it was at many Big Ten arenas at the start of that game, and he just gave me a big grin like, this is what I’ve been practicing my whole life for,” said Beilein Monday. “Not just to be at home, to go on the road and quiet fans—and he did a good job of that.”
“Every freshmen—you just don’t know what to expect from him. I’ve tried not to be too surprised anytime really, but we’re really enthused with how he has handled (things).”
Based on Stauskas hot start—he finished with a career high 22 points in 36 minutes at Bradley—Beilein’s decision to insert him into the starting five was a wise one, but it also meant the disappearance of his instant offense off the bench. Although fellow freshman guard Caris LeVert was on track for a redshirt season sitting out the first six games, the 6’6 slasher out of Ohio got his chance against the Braves with seven minutes of P-T, right where Beilein expects it to be moving forward.
“I don’t know if it’s always going to happen, it depends on what’s going on late in the game, but that was our intention. That’s why we had to just make the move and put him in the top eight. If we added him we weren’t going to have a top ten or eleven, we were still going to stay with a top eight or nine—and he’s in there.”
“He’s really working hard and we’re giving him a lot of extra work. I didn’t realize how far he had fallen behind in some areas just by usually being on the scout team. That’s why we wanted to do it now and not in January.”
The extent of Michigan’s rotation questions doesn’t stop with the guards. With forward Max Bielfeldt gave two points and two rebounds in nine minutes in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois, the big man rotation changes on a daily basis.
“With Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, Max Bielfeldt and Mitch (McGary) that was another thing --- playing big or playing small,” said Beilein. “We got a lot in the package.”
“We had an all star game yesterday that is an evaluation of film, stats, and the whole thing. We’ll keep looking at that.”
While Beilein continues to tinker with the Wolverines, looking for the perfect victory blend each game, the giddy grin shines through when detailing the formula for success and mentality of his team that has the highest of expectations cast upon them.
“I have a lot of confidence that we’re all on the same page out there,” said Beilein. “We’re not coaching attitudes, we’re coaching just guys that want to win. We’re watching the action, seeing how we can teach it better, and see how --- the old John Wooden, you haven’t taught until they’ve learned.”
Next up, the Wolverines take the court Tuesday at Crisler Center for an in state match-up with the young but talented Western Michigan Broncos (6-1). Tip-off is set for 8:36 pm on the Big Ten Network.
To watch video of Beilein’s Monday press conference, press play below.