Walton Growing Every Day

Michigan sophomore point guard Derrick Walton is growing increasingly comfortable with his elevated role of this year’s team. The second-year floor general took time out recently to discuss his increased assertiveness, the leadership he and other returning Wolverines are providing, and more.

Question:  Obviously, you guys don’t have a lot of juniors and seniors.  What is it like for you sophomore guys to have to take more of a leadership role even though you have only been here for a short time yourself?

Derrick Walton:  “You just got to grow up quick, just knowing that at the end of the day you one of the most experienced guys on the team, taking ownership of the team.  As a young player you just want to be successful.  You do what’s asked.  We need leadership this year and that’s what the younger guys are going to do.”

Question:  Coach Beilein address that to you guys that there are only a couple of junior and seniors out here, so it is on you guys.

Derrick Walton:  “Yeah, he jokes about it a lot of the time.  I feel like the younger, but older guys take it upon themselves to do it each and every day because we know how important it is for our team to be successful.”

Question:  It seemed like the second half of last year, at some point you just got more comfortable with spotting up and shooting it.  Was there something in particular that clicked to help you get to that point?

Derrick Walton:  “I understood there were guys like Nik and Glenn and Caris, guys that waited there turn and it was there time to do the things that they sat and watched other guys do.  I was very comfortable with letting those guys make the play and just contribute to the team in any way that I could and that was one of the ways.”

Question:  When you did start shooting what prompted that switch?

Derrick Walton:  “Just started feeling more comfortable, just getting back to doing the things that I’m used to doing.   I was just happy to contribute any way I could last year.”

Question:  Have you gotten very comfortable with what Coach Beilein was talking about, getting more comfortable with being assertive on the floor and shooting more?

Derrick Walton:  “Of course I have.  We talk about it every other day, every day just how important it is for me to be aggressive this year.  I want to be successful, so I take it upon myself.  My teammates encourage me every day, I think I’m doing a good job with it.”

Question:  That balance of being a point guard, knowing when to set other guys up, what about that piece of it because obviously you still have a lot of talent around you as well.

Derrick Walton:  “I try to find my balance and just know other guys are very capable of making plays.  It all depends on the situation.  It’s hard to predetermine what may happen, so I just try to play it as is.”

Question:  Coach Beilein talked about like Ricky Doyle having a jump hook.  You guys having guys to dump it down to in the post, are you working on post entry and stuff like that a lot more this year than say last year?

Derrick Walton:  “To be honest, we did the exact same thing as last year.  It just so happens that this year we’re actually getting the ball into the post more.  It’s the way it has been thus far.  I was able to see a big difference from what we saw last year and this year.  Guys actually getting more looks.”

Question:  What is the biggest difference in your comfort level with the system this year as a sophomore, do you have greater knowledge of the system being around for another year now?

Derrick Walton:  “Yeah just knowing all the ins and outs of the offense, knowing how and when to pick my spots, just having a year under your belt in this system is a big leap.  As I can say coming from freshman to sophomore year, there is a lot of stuff that I really didn’t recognize last year.”

Question:  You get to play on the ball a lot more.  You had Nik last year handling it a lot with on the ball.  How much of that is transitioned to you and how do you think you’re handling it in terms of facilitating the offense?

Derrick Walton:  “That’s kind of been my MO my entire life, just having to sit back and watch another guy do it wasn’t a big deal.  I’m just capitalizing on the opportunity that I have right now.”

Question:  So this is more of a return to what you’re used to and last year was prohibitive for you?

Derrick Walton:  “It was different in some ways, but like I said, I was just focused on winning and helping the team in any way.  That’s the role I was given, so I just tried to excel as much as possible.”

Question:  You mentioned coming on to a team that had a lot of defined guys as far as performance and leadership.  Now you’re one of the veterans, are you more vocal as well as being more assertive on the court?

Derrick Walton:  “I’m trying to be.  Each and every day is a growing pain for me.  Coach Val and Coach B are doing a great job with me (with) making sure that my voice is heard out there on the floor.  It is just a day-by-day thing.  I’m trying to grow in that area every day.”

Question:  What kind of leader is Derrick Walton, are you a guy that encourages, are you a guy that scolds; how do you lead when guys need to be led?

Derrick Walton:  “Depends on the circumstances.  It may be encouragement (or) it may be a little more hands on, it just depends on who the guy is and what the situation is.”

Question:  Do you have the Derrick Walton, Sr. in you?  Can you get in guys like your dad can get into guys?

Derrick Walton:  “I don’t really take it to that extent.  I make my presence felt when it needs be.  Like I said, it depends on the situation and the player.” 

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