According to a report relayed by Terrance Payne of NBC Sports, the Michigan Wolverines could be with star junior wing Zak Irvin sooner than initially anticipated.
Zak Irvin expected to return for start of season http://t.co/OLqoxsmqL7
— CollegeBasketbllTalk (@CBTonNBC) October 3, 2015
On Sept. 9, Irvin had surgery to correct a back issue. His original timetable to return was 6-8 weeks, but Wolverines coach John Beilein said Irvin could be ready for the season-opener Nov. 13 against Northern Michigan.
“He is getting better every day,” Beilein said Friday morning during an interview with WTKA 1050 AM (Ann Arbor), according to MLive.com’s Brendan F. Quinn, per Payne.
“He can’t do anything yet, but he’s very vocal and leading. 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.”
Note: Coach Beilein addresses media on Friday, Oct. 2–the start of practice–during a session at the Crisler Center. Matt Pargoff of Maize and Blue News highlights the health of the Wolverines with this video.
In 2014-15, Irvin averaged 14.3 points per game, second to only junior guard Caris LeVert, who is also recovering from injury (ACL). Junior guard Derrick Walton has nursed a bad foot for months and senior Spike Albrecht had hip surgery (both sides) during the offseason.
So, needless to say, the Wolverines are going to need every bit of Irvin, who added five inches to his vertical leap between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. During the same interview on media day 2014, Irvin–who last measured in at 6’6″ and 215 pounds–spoke of adding more muscle mass and becoming more comfortable with playing in the paint.
The benefits of more strength and bulk were evident during this past season, as he eclipsed 20 points five times and scored a career-high 28 during an 82-78 road loss to the Northwestern Wildcats. He also improved his ability to drive, which will be important.
But make no mistake; he’s a high-scoring shooter–and those are worth their weight in gold to a coach like Beilein, whose offenses are predicated on such players.