Injuries/Illness Mounting, U-M Now ‘Hunting'

Michigan coach John Beilein is searching for healthy and able bodies, adding more names to the injured/ill list on Monday. Heading into Rutgers Tuesday, the Wolverines lineup could look very different.

Michigan basketball is fighting through so many injuries and illnesses right now the idea of John Beilein or an assistant coach suiting up becomes more realistic by the day.

Okay, no, obviously that’s not going to happen but the Wolverines (11-7, 4-2) are calling in reinforcements to practice Monday prior to heading to Rutgers Tuesday night.

“There’s a great rule -- no I will not be (playing) -- but there’s a great rule where we can occasionally use a former player to come in so David Merritt is going to practice with us today,” Beilein said in a conference call Monday.

“We’re going to try to put on a squad list a couple of managers who played in high school and hopefully Duncan Robinson is ready to go shortly.”

Add Robinson -- a transfer forced to sit out this season after transferring over from division three Williams College -- to the growing list of Wolverines sidelined for various reasons.

At Sunday’s practice, Michigan was without the participation of Derrick Walton Jr., Spike Albrecht, Ricky Doyle and Kameron Chatman.

“I think we have more injured or sick players than we have healthy players right now,” Beilein said.

Chatman’s recent absence due to injury creates yet another hole on Michigan’s roster.

“Kameron Chatman aggravated his knee when he went in there,” Beilein said. “He sort of came off awkward on a lay-up and he’s got some mild swelling in there and was not able to go.”

“We’ll see what we have,” added Beilein. “We may be way down in our healthy roster and we just press on and do the best we can.”

With Rutgers (10-9, 2-4) waiting in New Jersey Tuesday night, Michigan’s lineup could look drastically different when the Wolverines take the floor.

Asked what way he could turn with the starting lineup against the Scarlet Knights, Beilein himself didn’t even know.

“A lot depends on Spike Albrecht’s status today,” Beilein said. “I think he’s been cleared to give it a shot and see how he feels. Derrick Walton, I’m not sure what he’s going to be able to do in practice today because that foot was very sore yesterday. It looks to me, with Kam’s current condition that Aubrey Dawkins and Zak may go at the forwards.

“We’ll see with Kam’s situation, which brings Sean Lonergan, who knows both positions fairly well as a backup in the event Kam can’t go. We’re hoping that Ricky can go and we’ll stay with that same rotation in the middle.”

Lonergan of course is a 6-foot-5, 200-pound sophomore walk-on that has appeared in five games this season, boasting a career-high two-points in Michigan’s win over Nicholls State.

Short on players and depth of any kind on the roster, this again raises the question on the status of freshman D.J. Wilson.

Originally set to seek a redshirt this season after suffering a knee injury in December, that plan could change depending on several different factors.

“He’s not still been cleared to go full court yet,” Beilein said. “We were hoping to after the Rutgers game get some type of clearance on that. We’ll definitely consider that, however it depends a little bit on what Kam’s injury is here as well.

“If we were going to burn the redshirt on him, I would like to be able to tell him with 12 regular season games to go that we’re going to be able to play him 15-20 minutes a game. I don’t think I can do that yet until I know this injury situation right now.”

The broader situation right now is that Michigan will have an uphill climb the rest of the regular season with 12 conference games evenly split between home and away.

This position, a position of doubt and adversity, is one Beilein is very familiar with, hopeful his guys can embrace it to find success.

“I always feel like I’m a better coach when I’m hunting and we’re certainly hunters now for the rest of the year,” Beilein said.

“That’s our only approach that we can use is try to find edges here and there, get our kids with that chip on their shoulder and go in and do the best we can in every practice, that way we’ll do the best we can in every game.”

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