to play football, not to play trumpet
Despite losing star guard Caris LeVert for a month due to injury, Michigan currently sits in fourth place at 7-2 in the Big Ten; after a so-so non-conference showing, the Wolverines’ strong start to conference play has allayed any concerns about missing the NCAA Tournament. Still, there’s a lack of clarity with this team – even disregarding the uncertainty regarding LeVert’s return and ability to quickly and seamlessly reintegrate into the lineup.
With the notable exception of the win over Maryland, Michigan still is essentially a team that’s beaten the teams they should’ve beaten and lost to the teams they should’ve lost to (two neutral site games, UConn (loss) and Texas (win), were the only two against opponents close to U-M in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings). For the most part, the Wolverines’ wins in the Big Ten have been rather pedestrian: Rutgers and Minnesota were uninspiring home victories over terrible teams, sweeping Penn State isn’t a notable resume event, and the road wins in Big Ten play – over Illinois and Nebraska – were against teams that will surely miss the NCAA’s.
Still, between that win over the Terrapins, the complete lack of bad losses, and the tantalizing potential of adding an All-American level player to a team that’s already playing pretty well, there’s reason to hope that Michigan can round into a formidable squad heading into postseason play. The schedule from here on out in the Big Ten is undeniably harder – starting this week with home contests against Indiana and Michigan State. After Michigan’s solid start to the conference season, there are a few things we can point to as pretty important moving forward:
[After the jump, those things]
Derrick Walton will be on BTN's "The Journey" Saturday night, rougly 8PM ET after the b-ball game against Minnesota, so if you're recording the game, add an hour. Repeats at 9PM and 10PM ET may be delayed by how much the game goes over 2 hrs.
There are also repeats Sunday morning at 1:30AM, 2:30AM, & 3:30AM ET which might be on time, if they cut the 11PM repeat of the game to fit the 2-hr window.
Profile on Michigan's Derrick Walton who has tackled the task of filling Trey Burke's shoes, see the special bond between Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery and his brother, & why Indiana basketball plays such a big role in John Mellencamp's life. Plus game highlights from Wisconsin/Iowa and MSU/Michigan.
John Mellencamp?!?! Um, OK, then...
Sweep the Spartans!
My family and I were at the Georgia World Congress Center Friday enjoying the Final Four festivities of Bracket Town, when we ran into two future Wolverines in Michigan's Mr. Basketball runner-up Derrick Walton and Indiana Mr. Basketball winner Zak Irvin who apparently were in town for a high school three point competition. I happen to notice them fairly quickly and proceeded to congratulate them on their respective successes and also expressed how excited I was that the two will be attending Michigan in the fall. They were humble and respectful and very accommodating when I ask for the two of them to take a picture with me. Talking to them, they seem like two really great young men and guys who Michigan fans will be proud to call their own. Coach Beilein has done a fantastic job of recruiting guys like Zak and Derrick who are not only talented individuals, but great representatives of the university as well, to bring Michigan back to the forefront of college basketball. With young men like these two, along with the others, Michigan will remain among the elite for years to come.
Now one thing that struck me was the size of Derrick Walton who most recruiting sites estimate to be 6-0. Well I am a legit 6-3 and as you all can see, he is closer to my height than not. So he is at least 6-1 or better. Zak Irvin however is a legit 6-7, and when he hits them weights, he is going to be a beast.Now considering I missed the opportunity to attend the teams pep rally held at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Smyrna, and according to my brother who did attend, meet Fab Fiver Jimmy King, I thought meeting the future of Michigan basketball was a great consolation, and definitely grounds for my very own "cool story bro". Needless to say, my family and I had a blast! We sang "Hail To The Victors" with the team after the shoot around and from what I can tell Michigan is well represented in the Atl for this monumental event. You all should be proud. Thanks for letting me share, and let's hope they take care of business vs Syracuse today. Go Blue!
Many of you probably also follow UMHoops.com. They recently posted UM PG commit Derrick Walton's senior year highlights. He's the favorite for Michigan POY.
If you haven't watched this video yet - watch it. It is hard to find a better highlight video for a true point guard. *
First, I hope Trey Burke comes back next year. Second, if I were his father, I would tell him to get his butt to the NBA. He is ready. Assuming Trey is gone....
I think UM reloads with Derrick Walton - I'm really excited about Derrick Walton next year. His game is amazing and in many ways closely resembles that of Trey Burke. His vision is outstanding. He not only finds the open man, but can find them in a lot of traffic and delivers the ball at the best location for the shooter. His jump shot looks more than smooth - very Burke smooth. Great handle on the ball. Oneof the things I was most impressed with was his ability to play under control - something that Burke has really improved this year. He has a very nice little bunny floater that Trey has utilized all year - it might be Trey's best shot this year. His body control while driving to the basket is phenominal.
I love true point guards - those that really can control the game, have high assists, and make their teammates better. We've had plenty of good point guards lately, none better than Trey Burke. We might be getting spoiled, in fact, but I don't mind. Looking at Derrick Walton, I feel that we will have another point guard who will be able to equally measure the quality we've been expecting from that position. Assuming only Burke leaves, next year should be a great year for UM basketball:
1. Walton / Spike
2. THJ (B1G POY candidate) / Levert / Zac Irvin
3. Stauskas / Levert / Zac Irvin
4. GRIII / McGary
5. Morgan / McGary
Am I really talking about next year? Better than watching that painful MSU / Wiscy game. But I'm not bypassing this year. This Sunday is the biggest regular season game we've had in decades.
*disclaimer: highlight tape viewed / lowlight tape not viewed.
It looks like ESPN updated their 2013 basketball recruiting rankings. All 3 Michigan guys make the list:
Zak Irvin-21 (3 away from 5 star status)
Both Irvin and Walton moved up, while Donnal took a fairly significant tumble. Michigan also has the top 2 commits in the big 10 at the moment (although people think MSU has a pretty good shot at #1 overall Jabari Parker). Another great year for Beilein in terms of talent evaluation.