Michigan's Max Bielfeldt returns home and plays a big role for the first time in his career
PEORIA, Ill. -- Max Bielfeldt said earlier in the week he had no idea how many members of his friends and family would be on hand Saturday for Michigan's road date at Bradley.
He eventually found out that, at the end of the day, it might have been half of Peoria.
"My mom said she managed like 70 some tickets," said Bielfeldt, a Peoria native who played high school basketball at nearby Peoria Notre Dame High School. "I wasn't worried about it, I was just worried about the game."
Playing in his hometown for the first time as a college player, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound redshirt freshman saw the most extended action he's received over the season's first seven games.
Bielfeldt finished with two points and two rebounds -- both offensive -- in nine minutes of action. He served as Michigan's third big man, a job he's currently competing for with sophomore forward Jon Horford.
"Max (was) home, he and Jon go at it every day and I almost asked Jon to step back (Saturday)," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Max was going home, so we said 'let's put him in there,' and Jon's a good teammate.
"And I thought Max answered the bell."
Bielfeldt opted to redshirt last season as a true freshman, spending most of his time getting healthy again from a bout with knee tendonitis.
He continues to be plagued by foot issues this season, but has been able to overcome most of the problem by wearing special supportive shoes.
And now, he seems to be on the verge of breaking into the team's rotation for the first time in his career.
"It was a great option, to be here and kind of show myself," Bielfeldt said. "I think I did pretty well."
Regardless of the extended playing time, though, Bielfeldt said he was just excited to get a chance to play in front of his hometown once as a collegiate player.
Bradley drew a whopping 11,019 fans Saturday, the program's largest crowd for a non-conference game since 2007 -- providing a fired up atmosphere.
Bielfeldt had plenty of friends and family in attendance, and was even honored in the Bradley student section by a fan that was armed with a giant cutout of his mugshot throughout the game.
On Saturday, Bielfeldt went home.
The extended playing time was just the cherry on top.
"It was awesome, I never played here, (our high school team) didn't make it to state," he said with a laugh. "It was kind of cool seeing all the guys.
"It was really nice."