ANN ARBOR, Mich. – If Derrick Walton Jr. can’t play moving forward, star guard Caris LeVert will take on the brunt of his role at point guard, says Michigan coach John Beilein, noting that Walton Jr. is questionable as U-M prepares for Houston Baptist today.
Walton Jr., who sustained the ankle in jury in U-M’s 66-59 win at N.C. State on Tuesday, has started seven games for the Wolverines this season, averaging 9.6 points, 4.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. So his production on the court will be missed, however, that’s where LeVert steps in, says Beilein.
“He’s got to play the point guard right now,” Beilein said of LeVert. “He’s going to be the point guard and be the primary ball handler and scorer. But that’s where he has to do during this time, where Derrick is certainly a pass first point guard who we want to shoot more. But Caris now would be more of a scoring point guard when he’s at that position.”
Through seven games this season, LeVert leads Michigan (5-2) in several categories. He leads U-M in points (18.4), rebounds (5.1), assists (4.4) and minutes played (31.7) this season. He has also scored in double digits in every game this season, and is coming off a 18 point, nine rebound performance against N.C. State.
Slowing down the Wolfpack
Michigan was able to keep N.C. State’s offense in check in Tuesday’s win, and a big reason was U-M’s ability to keep star guard Anthony “Cat” Barber to below his season average in points (16) and foul shots (four). He came into the contest averaging 21.0 points and 11 foul shots per game.
“We tried to contain knowing that (Antony) Barber wasn’t an outside shooter,” Beilein said of Barber. “ The tough 2s, make him shoot tough 2s. Quit chasing him around, he doesn’t turn the ball over much, he’s ultra quick, so just stay between him and the basket more, as opposed to the normal tactics we use in ball screens or even screens away.”
Robinson and Wagner Finding their way
“Both those guys if you watch them in preseason, both of them had really good qualities but they weren’t necessarily swaging about it,” Beilein said fo Duncan Robinson and Moritz Wagner. “They were just out there making shots. They would miss a couple and hang their head a little bit like it was the end of the world. We’ve tried to encourage them to this, ‘Hey, we’re going to throw you the ball. You can do this. You wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe in you, just go out and do your thing.’
“And they’ve really responded.”