Beilein: Freshmen still ‘have a long way to go’

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan has an intriguing freshmen class with guard Xavier Simpson, wing Ibi Watson and big men Jon Teske and Austin Davis.

Michigan coach John Beilein said their development will play a vital role whether the Wolverines are able to take the next step and build off last season’s 23-13 mark.

So far, though, it’s been a slow process.

“Ten practices I've seen what I've seen for probably 42 years from first-year players. A lot of confusion,” Beilein said at Thursday’s Big Ten media day. “A lot of I'm a step late. I'm trying to figure this out. Wow, how can I do all these things? How can I think about all these things at one time? And the game is very rushed, and I can't quite catch up.”

Beilein said his first- and second-year players will need to step up in order to provide depth and potentially play starter minutes. And while the freshmen are still adjusting and have shown flashes, Beilein didn’t name any standouts.

“There's still a lot of fact-finding going on,” Beilein said. “They all look the same … They're confused with all of this, between playing hard every minute, having to think every minute, and then being coached by four guys that all have been in sync for me and making corrections on some things they already thought they were pretty good at.

“They thought they already played hard, but we're telling them you're not. All those things sort of blended in after 11 minutes, so there's still a long way to go in finding out who they are.”

Take a stand

As protests during the national anthem have spread throughout sports, Beilein said he expects them to take place during the college basketball season.

Xavier Simpson, left, defends Derrick Walton Jr. during a practice drill.

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But with three weeks left until the regular season starts, Beilein said he has yet to have any discussions with his team about it.

“We will have some real dialogue on that to make sure we give our guys a chance to express their concerns, be proactive, discuss how you can assist in changing the world in many ways,” Beilein said. “If one of my players gives us compelling reasons why he thinks this can be helpful, then I'll support it, like just about every coach will. It's America. That's your right."

Beilein added there doesn’t need to be a team protest and consensus among the players since some may not share the same beliefs and views.

“I don't think it has to be unified, but I do think you have to allow a young man to express himself,” Beilein said. “You’re not just going to do it because you saw somebody else do it. Let's have serious discussions among your teammates and among your coaches why you feel that way."

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins