Hello! Derrick Walton is part of a Relay for Life team. Just posted this donation link on his twitter. Given what I've seen this board do for fundraising efforts that do not involve one of the most important Wolverines of the past decade, I thought maybe we could help him reach his goal.
Link to his twitter (I do not know how to embed): https://twitter.com/DerrickWalton10/status/847469746350022660
Again the donation link: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?px=45201300&fr_id=81497&pg=personal
Matt Painter sips his coffee. The mug clatters softly as he shakily sets it on the coaster. He is trying to read the Washington Post in his hotel suite as his assistants speak in hushed tones in the other room. The only other sound is his son, sitting on the bed, playing games on his iPhone. He listens for a moment. He shudders as hears the muffled but unmistakable announcer's call: "He's on fire!"
Not NBA Jam. Not today of all days.
He sets down his newspaper and calls to his assistants. "Hey, Jack, do you have the scouting report for tomorrow?" He tugs his collar nervously.
"Right here, coach," says Jack Owens, setting the packet on the table. It is newly printed, but there are already smudges of dripping sweat and creases where Owens was gripping the pages.
Painter picks up his coffee and opens the cover sheet to glance at the opponent rundown.
Painter's mug plunges from his hand. It strikes the table and shatters, lukewarm coffee splashing everywhere. The packet falls to the floor, eluding his desperate swipe to catch it. His son looks up from the game. "You ok, Dad?"
Painter stares at the packet for a moment. "I'm fine, son, I'm fine." He picks up the packet and mutters unintelligibly under his breath. He rubs his eyes. He opens the cover and looks again.
He catches the nervous glance of Owens through the door, and they hold eye contact for an extra moment. He looks away and tosses the packet to the side.
His mouth twitches involuntarily.
Derrick Walton has stepped up in the latter half of B1G play [Bryan Fuller]
If you’re looking for Ace’s preview of tomorrow’s contest against Purdue, it’s linked here.
As an addendum to that, here’s how dominant Boilermaker big man and probable All-American Caleb Swanigan is on the glass:
Fortunately Michigan is indifferent to the offensive glass so Swanigan’s dominance in preventing second-chance opportunities isn’t quite as significant; still, he’s a phenomenal rebounder even though he’s not much of an above the rim player. His strength, positioning, and ability to go get the ball (even without a great vertical leap) is impressive to watch.
Swanigan’s player comparisons are pretty insane as well:
Swanigan is a Jared Sullinger who’s 30 pounds lighter, can pass the ball extremely well, and shoots 47% from three. Needless to say, Michigan needs DJ Wilson (and Moritz Wagner, probably) to somehow neutralize him – the Purdue big man is a much more physical player, so staying out of foul trouble is a major key.
Anyways, there are some graphs of Michigan’s scoring and efficiency trends after the JUMP:
Damned Twitter embed:
As Michigan moves into the fourth year of the Derrick Walton / Zak Irvin partnership, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the two. They were both high-priority and well-regarded recruits (Irvin was slightly higher in the rankings) and were key rotation pieces as freshmen – Walton started and played more, Irvin was a deadly shooter off the bench – on an elite team. Derrick’s sophomore season was ruined by injury, and Zak eventually recovered from early-season struggles to show signs of a developing all-around game as he became the focal point for Michigan’s offense. Irvin was the injured one during the beginning of his junior year (and it wrecked his jumper for a time) but continued to show the same pick-and-roll gravitas of other former Michigan wings, and Walton improved his offensive rating by 10 from his sophomore to junior years on the same level of usage.
After the LeVert injury, we saw what it was like with Zak and Derrick as 1A and 1B for Michigan, a role that they were always destined to have as upperclassmen at Michigan. Though each player’s development tracks took some sideways turns, they were ready enough, as their 22 games in charge went okay: 12-10, kept their heads above water enough in conference play to get a huge upset over Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament to make it into the NCAA’s by the skin of their teeth after a lackluster non-conference season. Sure, it was a largely disappointing season that was marred by the losses of Caris and Spike (and several home blowout losses), but ultimately Michigan did avoid the dishonor of the NIT.
Walton was critical in making that happen. He’s a unique player, the rare 3-and-D point guard. His two-point shooting has been very poor over the last two seasons, but he makes up for it by shooting well from the free throw line and taking half of his shot attempts from behind the arc, where he hits a very respectable 39%. Derrick’s good in the pick-and-roll, but is best when he’s kicking it to shooters, as he doesn’t have the size to get great angles for dump-offs to the big man or to finish at the rim himself.
Defensively, he’s the best on a bad team – in some games locking up offensively potent guards, in some getting blown by routinely by lesser players. Walton’s steal rate was the best on the team by a sizable margin. His defensive rebounding (a unique skill, the basketball thing he’s probably best at, despite his size) propped up Michigan’s defense in ways poorly understood by the box score, and his defensive impact is probably underrated in that regard.
[More after the JUMP]
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]