Derrick Walton Jr.

Spike Albrecht
Associated Press

Hip issues to sideline Michigan’s Albrecht for remainder of season

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Michigan guard Spike Albrecht was one of the Wolverines impacted by health issues last season, playing though hip injuries that would require bilateral hip surgery during the offseason. Unfortunately for Albrecht and the Michigan program the recovery process has been a slow one, with the senior using practice time for recovery and rehabilitation and attempting to tough it out in games.

Friday morning the program announced that Albrecht will miss the remainder of the season, focusing on getting back to full strength. As a result, Albrecht has played his final game as a Wolverine.

“This has been the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Albrecht said in the release. “After taking a hard look at what is best for me, and this team, I will be stepping away from the game that has meant so much to me.

“I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my career and in particular over the last year while I was dealing with this injury. I just have a little more to go and I really need to take the proper time to finish my rehab.”

After playing 32 minutes per game as a junior with Michigan being without both Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert, Albrecht was down to just 8.6 minutes per contest in eight games as a senior.

Without Albrecht the Wolverines’ point guard depth takes a hit, with Walton Jr. now without a true backup. Walton’s had his own health issues this season, as he’s missed Michigan’s last two games due to a sprained left ankle. With Albrecht no longer in the rotation, LeVert is another candidate to see time on the ball moving forward.

Michigan’s core getting closer to full strength

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Zak Irvin is ready for Michigan to play at full strength again at long last.

“I just can’t wait for everyone to get healthy,” Irvin said. “We’ve at least had an injury I think all throughout last year.”

Irvin’s back problem is the last major issue the Wolverines are waiting on after an offseason in which several key players needed to work their way back from injuries. Michigan held its media day Thursday and allowed reporters to watch an hour of practice. Irvin was able to do some light shooting and participated in other drills as well.

The school announced in early September that Irvin was having back surgery and would miss 6-8 weeks. The Wolverines open the season Nov. 13 against Northern Michigan.

“I’m definitely not going to go out there if I’m not 100 percent – with my back 100 percent, also being in shape,” the 6-foot-6 Irvin said. “I can’t just get back on the court and not be in shape.”

Irvin is showing patience with his recovery, and guard Spike Albrecht continues to make progress with his. Albrecht had hip surgery in the offseason and is almost back to full strength.

“Obviously I’m not where I want to be,” Albrecht said. “I think it’s been a little bit tougher than I expected, just because I kind of jumped back in and just kind of expected myself to be right where I was, skill-wise and shooting the basketball and things like that. I’m not there yet.”

Caris LeVert (foot injury) and Derrick Walton (toe problem) both missed significant time last season, but they’re back now.

Those four players – LeVert, Irvin, Walton and Albrecht – give Michigan a talented, experienced core that should help the Wolverines recover nicely from missing the postseason last season. And the injuries that made 2014-15 so difficult allowed some of Michigan’s younger players more minutes. Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman started 13 games apiece.

“I think that our skill level, as far as seeing the floor, understanding offense and defense, is at a different level than it was last year,” coach John Beilein said. “We’ve worked a lot on it, all last year, but the Aubreys and Muhammads and guys like that, the game was moving so fast. The game has slowed down for them.”

Beilein said Abdur-Rahkman has “his work cut out for him” if he wants to play as much as he did last season. For once, the Wolverines aren’t dealing with a major exodus to the NBA – and that depth could certainly be an asset.

“Our best teams had two or three guys that we could go to late,” Beilein said. “Caris is certainly going to be one of those, but I don’t think he’s like the only option late in a game.”

Zak Irvin expected to return for start of season

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Michigan was plagued by injuries last year. But when the Wolverines take the floor to open the 2015-16 season, John Beilein expects to have a healthy lineup, which includes Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr.

He also expects Zak Irvin to be ready to play when Michigan opens the season against Northern Michigan on Nov. 13 in Ann Arbor. The junior wing underwent back surgery on Sept. 9. The procedure put him on the sidelines for 6-8 weeks.

“He is getting better every day,” Beilein said Friday morning in a radio interview with WTKA 1050 AM, transcribed by Brendan F. Quinn of

“He can’t do anything yet, but he’s very vocal and leading,” Beilein said Friday morning. “We feel really good about what we said, (that he’ll return) somewhere here in the start of the season and we expect him to be back out on the court for us.”

Irvin was the most recent Wolverine to be bit by the injury bug. LeVert missed 14 games with a left foot injury Derrick Walton missed all of 13 games his own foot injury. Spike Albrecht managed to play through pain before undergoing offseason surgery on both hips. Beilein said LeVert and Walton have are playing with “no restriction” on Friday afternoon, according to Quinn. Albrecht says he’s hoping to get to 100 percent within the next month.

The 6-foot-6 Irvin averaged 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds last year.

Michigan standouts expected to be cleared medically by July 1

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Last season was a tough one for the Michigan Wolverines, as injuries had a major impact on a team that was expected to at the very least be in the mix of teams behind preseason favorite Wisconsin. Two of the players impacted by health issues were guards Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr., with LeVert missing the final 14 games of the season with a fracture in his left foot and Walton Jr. missing 13 games due to issues with his right foot including a badly sprained toe.

Their health is key for a team that returns every key piece from last season’s rotation and has hopes of making a run at early Big Ten favorite Maryland in 2015-16. And in a radio interview Thursday, Michigan head coach John Beilein provided an update on the status of both LeVert and Walton Jr. and stated that he expects both will be a “full go” by July 1.

“Walton is all but back, he practiced without any restrictions today and really did a good job,” Beilein said. “LeVert, when people see him, they’re really going to be surprised the strength in his upper body. When you have a foot injury, there’s not much you can do in the weight room except work on your upper body and he is so much stronger. When he pulls himself on his jump shot, he’s got even more lift on his jump shot.

“When those guys get shut down, I think they get really hungry for the game and really miss it. I expect them, both will be full go by July 1. Those two months of July and August will be so important for them. Because they really have had sufficient rest where they shouldn’t have to hold back at all in the summertime.”

Obviously the summer is an important time, as players use those months to improve their individual skill sets. Having to worry about rehabbing an injury takes away from the time that can be use to do so. Given how deep the Big Ten sets up to be in 2015-16, having LeVert and Walton healthy is of great importance to the Wolverines as they look to rebound from a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.

Michigan head coach John Beilein remains ‘hopeful’ that point guard will return this season

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With starting point guard Derrick Walton Jr. having missed the last seven games with an injury to his right foot, Michigan head coach John Beilein hoped that there would be progress from a health standpoint. Unfortunately for Michigan, Walton was able to go just 15 minutes in a workout on Thursday before having to cut the session short.

And according to the Detroit Free Press, that makes it unlikely that the sophomore will play at No. 14 Maryland on Saturday. But even with this being the case, Beilein holds out hope that his starting point guard will be able to return to the court at some point this season but refuses to rush Walton back onto the court before he’s ready.

“We’re hopeful he’s going to play again this year. We’re hopeful of that. But it’s tough to tell the extent of the injury. When you get down into the foot, it’s difficult.”

“At one time, I thought maybe he’ll be back for Ohio State (last Sunday), but he wasn’t,” Beilein said. “OK, maybe the week off will help. But we’re not going to play him when he’s injured.”

Without Walton junior Spike Albrecht has taken as the team’s primary ball-handler, and his play was a major factor in the Wolverines’ win over Ohio State on Sunday. Albrecht played 38 minutes in the 64-57 victory, scoring 16 points while also grabbing four rebounds and dishing out five assists without committing a single turnover.

If Michigan is to have a shot at knocking off the Terrapins Saturday they’ll need a similar performance from Albrecht, as Maryland is also led by one of the nation’s top freshmen in point guard Melo Trimble.

Report: John Beilein optimistic Derrick Walton Jr. will return this season for Michigan

Derrick Walton Jr. (AP Photo)
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source: AP

Michigan has been dealing with significant injury losses this season and sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr. has been out of the lineup for the last three games while dealing with a foot injury.

The 6-foot-0 Walton missed a game in late November with a toe injury and played on it for a few months before his foot became too painful to play on. Michigan head coach John Beilein also didn’t make Walton’s injury sound very good when he said Walton would be out for the “forseeable future” last week.

But good news came on Saturday as Walton doesn’t have a broken foot and just needs to rest, rehab and recover.

Beilein told the Detroit Free Press’ Mark Snyder on Saturday that he’s hopeful the guard will play again this season.

“That’s the hope,” Beilein said to Snyder. “When he’s in that boot and I believe when he can walk pain-free again, then we’ll start looking at (a return.) We’re doing therapy in the pool, we’re different things with him. But we’re very hopefully that he can return as some point this year.”

Walton is averaging 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3 assists per game in his sophomore season and the Wolverines could use his leadership and overall floor game with its inexperienced roster.