That’s A Wrap: Max Bielfeldt

  • 04/11/2016 9:57 am in

Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our player-by-player recap of the 2015-2016 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Max Bielfeldt.

Bielfeldt (35 games): 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 58.2% eFG, 70.5% FT, 45.3 3PFG% in 17.5 minutes per game.

When Devin Davis and Hanner Mosquera-Perea were dismissed from the program last May, Indiana’s frontcourt depth for the 2015-2016 season appeared to be in major jeopardy.

Fortunately for the Hoosiers, Michigan made the curious decision to not bring Max Bielfeldt back for a fifth season despite having an open scholarship. And after Bielfeldt won an appeal from the Big Ten that allowed him to transfer within the conference and IU parted ways with Davis and Mosquera-Perea, the pursuit of the Michigan big man was on.

Things moved quickly from there as Bielfeldt announced that he would spend his final year of eligibility in Bloomington on June 2. Indiana beat out Iowa State, DePaul and Nebraska to land him and in retrospect, it was a major coup for Tom Crean and the IU coaching staff.

After battling injuries throughout his time in Ann Arbor, Bielfeldt was healthy for his final season and helped lead the Hoosiers to an outright Big Ten regular season championship.

Under the player development program at Indiana, he was given more freedom to be aggressive offensively and he made 29 3-pointers as a senior, more than his combined total in three seasons at Michigan. The differences in his numbers compared to his final season at Michigan are notable:

bielfeldt final

Some of the rise in numbers can be attributed to playing more minutes on a much better team, but Bielfeldt was certainly a more well-rounded and more efficient player at IU than he was at Michigan.

The result was Bielfeldt being recognized at the end of the regular season by the league’s coaches as the best sixth man in the Big Ten.

In addition to the statistical contributions, Bielfeldt also provided experience and leadership that was valuable in the locker room. In our recent interview on Podcast on the Brink, he recalled a text message that he sent to teammates before IU’s neutral court win over Notre Dame and also discussed his relationship with Thomas Bryant, who he helped guide through his freshman season.

Ultimately, things couldn’t have worked out any better for Bielfeldt, who won his third Big Ten title in his final season and experienced the most on court success of his career in his final season as a Hoosier.

Bottom Line: As much credit as players like Yogi Ferrell, Bryant and Troy Williams deserve for Indiana’s success this season, you can’t overstate the importance of the role Bielfeldt played for the Hoosiers. A selfless teammate who was well-liked in the locker room, Bielfeldt had several big performances that contributed to Indiana winning the Big Ten. In an early season win at Rutgers, he came off the bench and scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. In a win at home over Purdue, he had 10 points and six rebounds and was a major reason Indiana was able to combat the Boilermakers size in the paint.

Quotable: “I got a lot better with the coaching. I fit in really well with the guys. You guys saw it, when we were clicking and playing the way that we could play, it was pretty tough to stop. We had just so many weapons on the court at one time that I could get a wide open shot because you’ve got Yogi penetrating kicking to Nick (Zeisloft) who is wide open in the corner but my guy helps and I hit a 3 in the slot or something. It was real easy to play with these guys because they’re all offensive threats and we moved the ball so well. It was fun.” – Bielfeldt on his final season on Podcast on the Brink.

Previously: OG AnunobyJuwan Morgan, Thomas Bryant, Harrison Niego, James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson, Collin Hartman, Troy Williams, Nick Zeisloft

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  • IU1972

    Thank you, Max! You’re always going to be a Hoosier.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    much respect for MB, for his effort and dedication both on and off the court. what a contrast to what we could have been stuck with!!! imagine how differently this team would have looked. i have to believe the chemistry wouldn’t have been the same at all.

  • IU Cal 1809

    His leadership we’ll be missed next year! I truly enjoyed watching him last season and going to miss him next season!

  • IUBizmark

    I know he only played one season for IU, but his demeanor, dedication and leadership make him one of my favorite Hoosiers of all time. I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better calming influence for Bryant AND a tutor specific to the Big Ten schemes and opponents. Great pick up by the staff.

  • Arch Puddington

    I could almost make the argument that losing him is a bigger deal than losing Troy — almost. Obviously Troy is a really dynamic player who can take over a game (Notre Dame comes to mind, or the Maryland game), whereas Max is more of a glue guy. Nonetheless, he was a hugely important role player without whom we would have been lost at times. He is so solid and just so sensible in his demeanor and execution that even when TB went out we didn’t lose much. We’ll have DD next year, but he’ll have to be pretty darn good to play that role as effectively as Max did this year. (And yes, I know they are different players, but somebody has to hold down the middle when TB is on the bench, and I expect that DD will be that player on many occasions).

    In any case, a huge find by CTC, not to mention a great example of a player developing. I’ll think of him every time TB gets in foul trouble next year….

  • INUnivHoosier

    Still can’t believe that Beilein let this guy go. I’m sorry that he only had one year left!

  • TomJameson

    Really wish Max could return for 1 more year. With next years team set as it is now, with or without Troy, I would feel much better about a title run with Max on the team. Like Arch said, I will think of Max every time TB is on the bench.

    Good luck Max in whatever you want to do. I sincerely hope you get to wherever you want to go. Thanks for the fantastic year.

    Oh yeah, one more thing, IN YOUR FACE BEILEIN!! LOL

  • This team’s “next man up” mentality assumed another dimension entirely when MB came off the bench. On a team with nothing but great team players, he was one of the best. We’ll definitely miss him.

  • Fifer39

    There were so many games where we got off to slow start and/or TB was in early foul trouble where it was Max that came in and steadied the ship by establishing a presence underneath the basket. As Alex says, you can’t overstate the importance of Max’s contribution to this team. Thanks Max (and of course Jim Beilein :))

  • iubase

    Max was awesome…didn’t realize he was instrumental in nurturing Bryant along. That mentorship is valuable. He was also a work horse and steady. Great fit and clearly helped to stabilize the ship when it started getting rough. Outstanding yr – and well deserved…

  • Kyl470

    It’ll definitely be different next year when TB gets in foul trouble and we have a freshman coming in for him instead of an experienced senior like Max. Max was so fundamentally sound and at times I thought our offense actually flowed better with him in the game instead of TB. He will be greatly missed.

  • RDD#76

    Yes, considering they had a open scholarship. Wonder what they thought as year went by and what kind a player he developed into at IU! Thanks Max!

  • BL

    After losing HMP and DD, I remember being thankful we picked up Max but also bummed knowing our backup at center would be 6’8 and a cast-off from another BIG school. Man, never could have imagined he’d make such a big impact. Four major contributions next year’s team will have to replace off the bench: (1) experienced leadership; (2) physical low post defense; (3) low post offense; and (4) 31 made three’s at a 45% clip. That’s a lot to ask of DD as a freshman. Reminder that once again, we’ll be much better late in the BIG season than early on; especially factoring in the need to install a new PG.

  • Koko

    Hopefully we will be much better after the pre-B1G games going into the B1G season. A slow start in the conference won’t bode well.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Max was a huge upgrade over what IU had last season in the post. i took some flack for saying that he would be much better than HMP and he was. Good luck to you Max.

  • There’s probably some debate we all could have over the significance of the adjustments that CTC made to his coaching style as the pre-season wore on last year. Personally, I think there were a few, from more reasonable practices physically to a focus on team defense to better in-game adjustments, and that they combined with player improvements to result in the turnaround we saw following the Duke game. Assuming that those coaching adjustments stick (and these players continue last year’s work ethic and team orientation), I’m thinking we won’t have such an incredibly slow start in the pre-season and that will lead into a faster start in the B1G.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Max hit huge 3s when w needed them on more than one occasion

  • StudentHoosier

    Gonna miss this guy.

    PS, how about those sisters?

  • Bballpop

    Can’t help but think that with the way Beilein used Max and then how Crean gave him much more freedom to be a part of the offense (especially with how many more 3’s he took) that has got to help in recruiting.

  • Shaggy_C

    If Crean isn’t already doing it, he really needs to be pushing the Kelley Direct program for grad transfers. 100% online courses taught only in the evenings means lots of free time for workouts and practice. You have to think both Max and NZ took full advantage, given how rapid their development was in such a short time on campus.

  • Shaggy_C

    I don’t know what it will take for the “Crean can’t develop big men” accusations to fall by the wayside but Max seems to be a shining example for Crean’s coaching. In one year he turned a guy who had a pretty middling B1G career into 6th man of the year. Those year over year defensive improvements (350% increase in steals, 100% increase in blocks) are just absurd.

  • Bballpop

    And look how much Bryant developed just this year too. He was a different player from when the season began.

  • FKIM01

    I don’t ever want to hear again that Beilein is a better coach than Crean. He simply is not and this is exhibit 1A as to why not.

  • Hardwood83

    Yeah, I’ve kinda wondered about the Beilein reputation too. No doubt they do run some effective offensive sets- I’d love to see IU steal some of that lane action that gets their big men so open. Still, he’s been successful when he has really talented players….like just about anyone else is. When he had Trey Burke and Stauskas (and Max!) he won the B1G and made the Final Four. Without those guys he’s middle of the pack. Not implying he’s a bad coach, just I don’t think he’s really a difference maker.

  • BL

    Yeah, on the positive side, It’s highly unlikely we’ll be relying on a small lineup and TB will be a sophomore so we should be much better defensively than early last year. However, lot of big losses and new roles for players. Who will settle in as the new PG and who will be the go to guy late? Anyway, I’m ready to be patient with the start, if necessary.

  • Jeffery W. Johnson

    Thanks Max! You were a credit to the program. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Agreed, hopefully Morgan gets healthy and can back up TB; since he will have surgery on his shoulder, maybe he can work on developing those legs to be like the tree trunks Max has for legs.

  • There was also that little 28-point run thing…in Ann Arbor.

  • I was initially a doubter. I was wrong. Max single-handedly won the Rutgers game early in the conference season, preventing a collapse in team morale and starting the conference season with a bad loss to a horrible team. Few players have had the impact he has in only one season. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors.