As a freshman, Irvin was used as a spark coming off the bench as legitimate three-point specialist. During the Wolverines’ 2013-14 Big Ten regular season championship run, he averaged 6.7 points, he shot 42.5 percent from the 3-point range and finished second on the team with 62 three-pointers made.
However, heading into his sophomore season, Irvin’s role is expected be different. No longer a role player, Irvin is now expected to be a top scorer and starting guard for the Wolverines.
“Last year I was one dimensional,” Irvin said. “Just coming in shooting [and] bring energy off the bench. I want to be able to do more this year.”
Irvin’s hard work this off-season is already paying off. At 6-foot-6, he has gained 5-pounds and is now up to 215-pounds. His vertical leap has gained five inches, too. He is now up to 35-inches.
“You know, just getting better and better each day,” Irvin said. “You know, I dedicated my summer and spring to staying up here and getting better [with strength coach Jon]Sanderson. Just working my game out on the floor. Hopefully it all pays off during the year.”
Besides his physical growth, Irvin has also made strides in his willingness to be more aggressive offensively, Michigan coach John Beilein said.
"You'll see at practice, Zak is taking the ball to the basket better, he's rebounding more -- he did not rebound last year,” Beilien said of Irvin, who averaged 1.3 rebound last season. “And he's becoming a defensive stopper. He has some ability to do that. I don't think he's proven that in games yet, but most freshmen don't."
Irvin appeared in all of U-M’s 37 games last season – all off the bench – but never had a bench players mentality, according to sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr.
“He always had that mentality [of a starter],” Walton said of Irvin. “So the transition wasn’t as big [this season]. It’s just about him getting reps now. So the last couple weeks he’s been doing a great job. I expect him to do a lot of great things this year for us.”
And if Irvin is going to be successful, he know he will have to attack the basket more.
“Not even going in there to score, which I am mostly trying to do is score, but also find my teammates,” Irvin said. “We have a lot of good players on this team. Just [want to try to] make us a great team.”
Michigan opens its season at home with an exhibition contest versus Wayne State on Nov. 10.