In snap decision, UM burns Moritz Wagner’s redshirt

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — There wasn’t much suspense in Michigan’s opening victory over Northern Michigan on Friday.

But there was one thing.

Particularly, folks were on the lookout for German freshman Moritz Wagner, who still was being considered for a redshirt when the season opener tipped off.

The redshirt went poof in the second half when Wagner, all 6-foot-10 and 225 pounds of him, took the floor at Crisler Center with the game in hand.

“We have had a lot of talk about this,” coach John Beilein said. “The way things are today, the fifth year, it’s not like it used to be — a fifth year, sometimes he might not be playing with you or he might be playing somewhere else. I really wanted to see him in a game, and I loved what I saw.”

Wagner, 18, played six minutes, and scored the first two points of his college career, from close range. He missed his other shot, a 3-pointer.

Wagner also picked up two rebounds, and rebounding has to be better for Michigan this season.

“He’s active, he’s got a motor, he’s got some things he’s got to work on,” Beilein said. “He doesn’t have the strength to do (things) the way he’d like to in the Big Ten yet. That’s what we’re gonna work on.”

Players who are redshirting get to work out in the gym in hard-core sessions during games.

With Wagner’s redshirt burned, he will have to do more between games — without doing so much that he’s worn out for the actual games.

“We just kept looking at our team,” Beilein said. “We just watch him and watch him and watch him, and that’s a position we need right now to be better. We’ve gotta finish better, we’ve gotta pass better, we’ve gotta shoot better.

“He can do a lot of those things.”

Wagner played a year with ALBA Berlin, averaging 16.8 points and 5.3 rebounds.

He’s a forward, but he strives to be more than that, Beilein said. He wants to be an all-around player, and he’s not afraid to shoot from anywhere.

Michigan coaches gave him the confidence to do just that.

“When we asked him to get aggressive, he just became more aggressive,” Beilein said. “He’s changed his mentality. ‘I’m a big man who can shoot.’ ”