IU Player Profile: Max Bielfeldt — Leader by Experience and Example


Max Bielfeldt

Senior, PF/C #44

2015-2016 Role: Leader by Experience and Example

This post is the first in a new offseason series in which I will discuss the role I expect each IU player to have on next year’s team.

We’ll start with the seniors (Yogi’s next!) and work all the way down to the freshmen.

Each analysis will be broken down into the following categories:

  • Offense
  • Defense
  • Best/Worst-case scenario
  • Final thought

Starting things off, we’ll discuss the newest addition to the IU team: Max Bielfeldt, which the guys recently discussed on this episode of The Assembly Call.

Speaking of new additions, that describes me as well. If you’re wondering who I am, and how I became the latest IU student to write for The Assembly Call, here is the introduction interview I did with Will.

Max is transferring in from Michigan, where he spent three years on the court after a redshirt year. Due to a scholarship scrunch in Ann Arbor, Max was free to transfer anywhere and play immediately after graduating last month.

Max has tons of experience playing in both the Big Ten and NCAA tournament. He even played in the Final Four his freshman season. He chose Indiana due to the competitive roster for next season and the Kelley School of Business.

Max adds inside depth and a volume rebounder while coming off the bench for the Hoosiers. For everyone watching the NBA finals, Max is a Tristan Thompson-type player. He grabs boards, plays defense, and sets good screens. Thompson has been very successful playing with great shooters, which is just what Indiana has.

Considering the recent departures of Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Devin Davis, I am thrilled to have Max in Bloomington for his final year of college basketball.


Max will have a limited role on the offensive end when he is on the floor. He’ll likely not have plays drawn up to get him the ball, as he did not display much of a post game while at Michigan. His role on offense this season will be simple: set screens and get rebounds.

I watched some game film of him from the past two years, and I did see some nice touch around the rim and decent athleticism off the pick and roll.

Max sets hard screens, using every ounce of his big frame. He also did shoot a couple from beyond the arc in the games I watched. He is capable of shooting threes, shooting 28.2% over his past two years at Michigan. While that isn’t fantastic, it could factor into his role in Tom Crean’s spread offense.

Max should able to pair with Emmitt Holt and keep the offense in rhythm when the bench is on the floor.

Here are the numbers he produced at Michigan:


Even though Bielfeldt will not fill up the stat sheet with points, he can still have an impact on the offense while in the game.

His role will be to set screens, finish lobs, and go hard to the glass on every shot. He will score points on open dunks and while finishing offensive rebounds underneath. If he accepts his role, Bielfeldt can be an asset to what should be an explosive IU offense by rebounding and setting screens.

Max should also be able to help with his high basketball IQ. He is comfortable with the ball in his hands and is a good passer who doesn’t turn the ball over. In this way, he can have an impact similar to what Collin Hartman had last year by making smart decisions and moving the ball effectively.


Max should be a big defensive presence off the bench this year for the Indiana Hoosiers.

He’ll be a useful post defender and rebounder coming off the bench — which the Hoosiers desperately needed once Mosquera-Perea and Davis were dismissed. Indiana struggled down low last season and will face some tough post players this season. Max is capable of guarding any post player and then boxing out to secure the rebound.

One matchup that I was sure to watch was Max against Purdue and their twin towers.

He was able to deny Hammons the ball while battling for position on every possession. He drew an offensive foul against Hammons on the third possession after he entered the game because Hammons couldn’t get the positioning down low and was frustrated.

Max also showed a propensity to rebound well last year, grabbing 10 rebounds per 40 mins last season. Rebounding is something Indiana cannot have enough of to ensure they do not give up extra possessions.

The one downside of Max on the defensive end is that he will not block many shots.

He averaged 0.2 blocks per game last year. His 245-pound frame makes him a below-the-rim defender. Despite the lack of blocked shots, Max does show the ability to play smart help defense.

While Max should be a solid defender during his time on the court, he also could have an impact on the defense while not on the court. He can help guide underclassmen like Thomas Bryant, Emmitt Holt, and Juwan Morgan to play better, smarter defense Hopefully some of Max’s experience and wisdom will rub off on the younger Hoosiers.

Last season there wasn’t a defensive stopper to show the Hoosiers the way to play good defense. Hopefully having Max in practice and available off the bench will provide that leadership by example.

Best-case scenario

The best-case scenario for Max is that he plays 10-15 minutes a game while allowing Thomas Bryant consistent rest, with the ability to play more should Bryant get in foul trouble.

6.5 points to go along with 4 rebounds would be a great line for Max.

Those stats, combined with his leadership, can help guide the Hoosiers through the rigorous Big Ten schedule and to a deep NCAA tournament run.

Worst-case scenario

The worst-case scenario for Max is that he gets lost in the transition.

Max is a very smart guy, but Tom Crean’s system can be complicated, with multiple sets on offense and varying defenses that could be too much for Max to pick up.

If he doesn’t pick up the systems and adjust to the style of play, he could get lost in the rotation with forwards Emmitt Holt, Collin Hartman, and Juwan Morgan all looking for playing time down low behind Bryant.

Final thought

Max will spend one year in Bloomington, but it could be the best year of his college career. He has struggled with injuries and had a hard time finding consistent playing time over his tenure at Michigan.

Bielfeldt has a lot of potential for a 5th-year senior.

He showed flashes of that potential last year, but that was after Michigan’s season was decimated by injuries, and Max was then told that his services wouldn’t be needed after the 2014-15 season.

Max should be a valuable addition to the Indiana roster as both a depth guy and a leader assuming he has the will to do all the small things, on and off the court.

Next week, I’ll break down Yogi Ferrell and his role on next year’s team …

Check out the other posts in this series:

Yogi Ferrell — The Alpha Dog

Nick Zeisloft — The Lethal Sniper

Max Bielfeldt — Leader by Experience and Example

Troy Williams — The Difference Maker

Collin Hartman — Jack of All Trades

James Blackmon Jr. — The Hinge

Robert Johnson — Silent Killer

Tim Priller — Program Booster

Emmitt Holt — The Solid Contributor

Thomas Bryant — The Missing Piece

Second Half Struggles Nothing New for IU Under Crean … But it’s Worse This Year (Here’s the Data)


In the notes section of our latest subscriber-only analysis on the Wisconsin game that we sent out this morning (get it immediately here), I referenced a couple tweets lamenting IU’s second half struggles in recent games.

The most notable among these came from Evan Hoopfer, who pointed out that IU was leading at halftime in eight of its last nine games. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers have emerged victorious from just three of those contests.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at the last few seasons to see what trends might exist. I know I’ve often questioned Coach Crean’s ability to make halftime adjustments, but I had never looked at the data to try to back that up.

[Read more…]

IU-Penn State Postgame: Hoosiers Play ‘Afraid to Win’ … So They Don’t

The Indiana Hoosiers blew a 54-41 second half lead tonight.

At home.

To Penn State.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Indiana was up 61-51 at the under-4:00 timeout. Yet they lost, 66-65. And for the last three minutes of the game tonight, Indiana looked afraid to win.

Which is why they didn’t.

Andy, Ryan, and I do our best to break it all down on this episode of The Assembly Call. Read below for Zach’s synopsis.


And here’s the video:

[Read more…]

DocLibby’s Crossover: My Son Yogi’s Hard Work Paid Off in Big Win Over Michigan

[Editor’s note: On Wednesday, February 5th, @DocLibby sent out this tweet. Two days later, I am extremely excited to introduce her as our newest columnist here at The Assembly Call. You may be familiar with her son … he’s the one who drained seven 3-pointers on Super Bowl Sunday to lead Indiana to a victory over Michigan. 

In her first post, Dr. Ferrell describes what it was like to be there in Assembly Hall watching her son play the best game of his young career.]


yogi-ferrell-and-mom“So Tom, what’s the plan for the game on Sunday?”

This is the question I casually asked Coach Tom Crean, referring to the Michigan versus IU game. He let out a slight laugh and leaned in.

“Do you promise not to tweet it?” he asked.

His plan worked to perfection. [Read more…]

Special Edition: Interview with Alex Bozich of Inside The Hall

alex-bozichEarlier today I interviewed Inside The Hall founder and editor Alex Bozich about a number of topics, including:

  • Indiana’s current bubble status and what the Hoosiers need to do from here on out to make the NCAA Tournament.
  • Yogi Ferrell’s emergence as one of the Big Ten’s best players — is he better or worse than Alex thought he’d be at this point in his IU career?
  • The overall job Tom Crean has done during this up and down season — and was it okay for IU fans to boo during the Michigan game?
  • The future of Noah Vonleh, both for the next month as a scoring option and as an NBA draft prospect (including an interesting comment that would seem to support Ryan’s belief that Noah will stay two years)
  • How Stan Robinson, Troy Williams, and Will Sheehey will impact IU’s success the rest of this season.
  • And much, much more.


[Read more…]