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December 20, 2012Michigan redshirt sophomore forward Jon Horford went down in a heap against West Virginia last weekend, a knee injury that prompted some to believe he might be lost for some time. Head coach John Beilein put those fears to rest Wednesday before U-M's practice in preparation for Thursday night's game with Eastern Michigan.
Trainers and doctors have reported a "very vague timeline," he said. Horford missed two weeks earlier this year after hurting the same knee.
"I don't think we have a definite time, but he won't be playing in this game," Beilein said. " Who knows if he'll be ready for the next game? I don't think we'll know until the swelling is all down. What we've seen so far, we're very hopeful he will return.
"He is walking around. I'm not sure about the injury, but same knee he had injured before. The lack of news is good news. We're waiting for some things, but we're very hopeful right now he can return healthy as a horse."
Redshirt freshman Max Bielfeldt will likely see more time in the interim, having recently recovered from an ankle injury. Senior Blake McLimans, too, could see time as a zonebuster against EMU's Syracuse-style 2-3.
Bielfeldt's vertical isn't what it was before the injury, but he does give U-M its best offensive post presence, Beilein said.
"Max can help in other ways," he said. "He can't block shots like Jon does, doesn't eat vertical space like Jon, but he's good horizontally and very good in the post, one of our best post scorers. There are different things we'll have to address to make up for it, but he has different strengths that allow us to do good things, too."
Freshman Mitch McGary, too, should get some more time if he can stay out of foul trouble. He's been hampered recently by fouls away from the rim.
"The things he is doing, they're not overly physical," Beilein said. "It's just a common way the game is called. You've got to learn about what they call, what's actually happening. That was a very, very physical game [against West Virginia]. Trey was on his tail a lot but only shot a couple foul shots. There are ways people can be physical without fouling, of fouling without being physical. Mitch is still trying to learn those differences."
"I've talked to a couple guys about things they showed," he said. "They may not be hitting the wall, and lazy is not the right word, but maybe they're not as prepared in a stance, doing things you have to do. It's usually a sign that wait a minute, we've been going at it for a while. We all need a break over the holiday. When you have that many freshmen playing, I know they'll cherish those four days at home."
"I don't think it's ever good to have a bad game unless you learn from it, but he didn't have a bad game," Beilein said. "He made tough foul shots to help us, a couple big threes we had to have. It's all part of the process."
Sophomore guard Trey Burke, meanwhile, keeps getting better because he just hates to lose.
"We had different scrimmages - each one he's the one telling our guys, 'were going to win this one,'" Beilein said. "That's his approach. My guess is it doesn't have anything to do with who we're playing - it's how he plays. The better the challenge, the more he responds individually.
"His poise is what we're seeing right now, his will to win and not to give in to fatigue. It's remarkable. He'll score with a body on him with pretty strong sometimes and he's on the ground, pushing the ball up the floor - he plays beyond his fatigue level, beyond his years."