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Michigan Hoops Preview: The Vets | The Man, The Myth, The Bielfeldt

What kind of role will Max Bielfeldt have on a Michigan squad that could badly use veteran leadership on the front line?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sr. F/C Max Bielfeldt; 6-foot-7 245 lbs.

His Story

Max is entering his fourth year in the program and until the departure of Jon Horford this off season it looked like Bielfeldt would spend the entirety of his career as a rarely used depth player.  Of course, that still might be the case, but Horford's departure has Michigan's front line looking very young, swinging the door open for one last push from Max.

The Wolverines have four freshmen vying for time at the four and five spot.  Redshirt freshman Mark Donnal is joined by true freshman Ricky Doyle at the five with DJ Wilson and Kam Chatman, both true freshmen, looking to get time at the four (Wilson might also swing out to the five).  With any experienced depth at the position it would be likely that Bielfeldt would get buried once again.  If Michigan is to outperform expectations this year it would be a good sign for Bielfeldt to be confined to the bench in favor of the younger options.  But, he still on the roster, and could be a useful piece.

His Stats

These are few and far between.  Kenpom lists Bielfeldt as having played six percent of available minutes last year, somewhere between the cheering section and Spike in terms of time on the court.  He was used for over 10 minutes just twice: once against Stanford and again vs. Michigan State.  His offensive rating didn't go above 50 in either contest.  Small sample sizes abound, but that ain't good.

His Strengths

- Rebounding:  Despite his size, Bielfeldt has shown the potential to be a good rebounder.  He has a solid understanding of where to be, and gets good position.  His rebounding skill is never going to be through the roof due to size issues, but smart, physically-limited rebounders can still be effective (see: Morgan, Jordan) with a solid emphasis on body position and good rebounding angles.

His Weaknesses

- Offense: Bielfeldt hasn't shown much offensively.  It has been reported that his three point shot is good in practice, although his looks in games haven't been all that great.  He also hasn't been involved much at all even as a last ditch offensive option.  Unless his outside shot is truly good enough to stretch defenses, with his size he would seem to be an offensive liability.

- Defense:  Again, size is going to limit his effectiveness.  Bielfeldt just isn't big enough to take on larger players in the post and do anything but break even, and that is a best case scenario.

Outlook

No offense to Max, who I am sure is a good kid and a valuable part of Michigan's program, but if Michigan is serious about competing for a Big Ten title and another deep NCAA tournament run, it will need its young front line to quickly surpass Bielfeldt in the rotation.  Both Ricky Doyle and Mark Donnal have more size and skill.  It won't be too long before they both have more in-game experience.

Bielfeldt can be a nice piece to have when once or twice a year foul trouble becomes a big issue (and with two freshmen big men, that could be a more frequent occurrence this year), but as a rotation player he is limited given what we know about him now.  That changes somewhat if he is able to shoot the three effectively, but that still likely wouldn't elevate him past being an interesting bench option barring a complete collapse from Michigan's young interior.