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 MLive.com.
“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 had former New York Yankees great Derek Jeter as a special guest on Saturday during its 31-0 drubbing of BYU in the Big House. The future Hall of Fame shortstop received a special Michigan football jersey from Jim Harbaugh and Jeter also got to spend some time with men’s basketball head coach John Beilein.
While this has little to do with helping out Beilein with basketball, Jeter is one of the most revered athletes in recent sports history. Beilein spending some time with Jeter certainly can’t hurt in recruiting.
Hit hard by injuries a season ago, Michigan is already dealing with health issues before the 2015-16 season has even begun. Wednesday night the school announced junior guard Zak Irvin will be sidelined for six to eight weeks as a result of a back injury that requires surgery.
Should the recovery process take the full eight weeks, that would mean Irvin wouldn’t be cleared to go until just over a week before the Wolverines begin their 2015-16 regular season schedule. That being said, head coach John Beilein expects Irvin to make a full recovery from the procedure.
“We expect a 100 percent recovery for Zak after this procedure,” Beilein said in the release. “We will not rush his return; but given Zak’s work habits and determined attitude, we anticipate he will be back on the court and at full speed sometime near the beginning of our season.”
Irvin averaged 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest as a sophomore, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. Irvin was one of two Wolverines to play in all 32 games last season, with forward Kameron Chatman being the other.
Beilein’s Wolverines struggled with injuries throughout the year, with guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert missing significant amounts of time and Spike Albrecht playing through hip issues that would result in two surgeries this offseason. With the majority of their rotation back on campus, Michigan is expected to bounce back from a disappointing 2014-15 season.