Michigan seniors Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht are ready to lead a group of wiser Wolverines in 2015-16.

Michigan seniors Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht discuss the progress and identity of the Wolverines.

After surging to a 6-1 start in 2014-15, Michigan hit a dead end in on-conference play.

Starting with a less than flattering home loss to NJIT, the Wolverines went on to lose four straight games including a 45-42 defeat at the hands of crosstown rival Eastern Michigan.

Unable to regain it's stride the rest of the way, eventually dealing with crippling injury issues as Caris LeVert was lost for the season with a broken foot, Derrick Walton Jr. also dealing with an ongoing toe injury.

The result was a 16-16 finish and a postseason miss after spending two straight years in the Elite Eight or better in the NCAA tournament.

Now turning the page to 2015-16, Michigan is looking to forget about the misfortune that came a year ago, instead peering onward and upward with optimism ripe inside Crisler Center.

"I think we're a lot wiser than we were last year," LeVert said Thursday. "Last year we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into, especially the young guys. They didn't really know how to win basketball games, how to play hard, and I think we went through some losses last year.

"I think you grow more in losses than you do in wins and we obviously had a lot of losses last year."

Michigan's first test of the new season comes in the form of Northern Michigan Friday night in Ann Arbor, that one tipping off at 7 p.m.

In place of LeVert and Walton Jr. last year, several young guards had the chance to see the floor before their time, playing meaningful minutes and hitting big shots as a result.

With a year of seasoning and a hefty amount of experience, the Wolverines will spend the early season in search of an identity.

"We're still a young team so we're just fighting everyday to get better," LeVert said. "That's our identity really, just playing hard each possession, not taking any possessions off and being a tough team to play against."

Although Michigan enters this season with a near 100-percent clean bill of health across the board, junior wing Zak Irvin remains sidelined following back surgery, while senior guard Spike Albrecht will be limited in the early going.

After undergoing hip surgery in the off-season, Albrecht has responded well to the treatment and recovery that comes with post operation therapy, the only problem is the Indiana native didn't have an adequate amount of time to get his conditioning to the level necessary to log heavy minutes.

"It's just taking a little bit longer than I had hoped," Albrecht said. "Nothing with the surgery or anything like that, more just shaking the rust off and getting my leg strength back having not played in five or six months."

Albrecht said he is still experiencing some pain on the floor but not from his hips, mostly just dead legs.

Hoping to be back to full strength soon, Albrecht said the goal is in the next few days or maybe a week. While some things change, others stay the same though so even when Albrecht has his legs under him again, dunking likely won't be on the agenda.

"I've never been able to," Albrecht said with a smile.


The Michigan Insider Top Stories