Freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis doesn’t look like a player in his first season of college basketball.
Brazdeikis has started every game this season and has looked ready to be a key player for Michigan this season. Against Chattanooga Friday afternoon, he had 20 points for the second straight game.
He’s playing with confidence six games into his career with the Wolverines.
“Just being aggressive out there,” Brazdeikis said. “I’m picking my spots I feel like a lot better. I’m attacking the offensive glass more. I feel like I’m getting to the free thow line. I’m just playing loose out there. I feel free and that’s my kind of game.”
Against the Mocs, he made six of 10 shots and two of four from three. His jumper looked smooth.
“It’s feeling really good,” Brazdeikis said. “I feel like it’s getting better every single day. I’m working on it with Coach Beilein. Every single day, I’m getting my reps up, focusing on a lot of different things. But the most important thing for me is confidence and I feel like I’m shooting it with confidence.”
Brazdeikis also is improving on the defensive end. Against Chattanooga, he had the highest block percentage on the team.
With Michigan’s defensive scheme, he’s getting acclimated quickly.
“I feel like it’s improving a lot,” Brazdeikis said. “We have very complex concepts on defense and it’s different every single game. Coach Luke does a great job of teaching me and we have again X and Charles are always keeping me accountable and teaching me the ways of defense. It’s mostly just intensity and always listening to the coaches.”
His teammates are noticing how well he’s playing.
“He’s balling,” sophomore forward Jordan Poole said. “A lot of the guys did the same thing with me last year. He’s definitely doing good right now from rebounds to being aggressive in the paint. He adds an extra dynamic to our team.”
While Chattanooga wasn’t a challenge for the Wolverines, up next is North Carolina in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Last year in the challenge, Michigan fell on the road to the Tar Heels 86-71.
They are looking to get some revenge this Wednesday.
“It’s what we want to play basketball for,” Poole said. “We have a lot of competitive guys on the team and going to North Carolina last year and losing like we did is definitely something we didn’t expect to happen. We get another chance to beat a really good team and we’re excited to play the teams we have coming up.”
Brazdeikis will have a critical matchup with UNC’s star freshman Cobi White. With two strong games in a row, Brazdeikis should be ready for that task.
“It’s huge,” Poole said. “Especially as a freshman, his confidence is up there. So, being able to go and play big time teams like this is definitely huge.”
He’s prepared for what awaits him after these last two games.
“I feel like that’s important for all of us to play that well, but for me it was nice because it gives me a confidence boost,” Brazdeikis said. “We’re going into big games and I’ll just be ready for that.”