ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tuesday night's 77-62 victory over Northern Kentucky marked the much needed return of Michigan's junior guard Derrick Walton to the floor.
Walton, who didn't appear to be hampered much by the ankle injury, finished the night with 16 points and added three rebounds in the Wolverines' winning effort. When asked if Walton was at all surprised he came out looking so sharp, he felt like he was prepared to play.
It also helps getting the blood pumping, too.
"Not really," Walton said. "I knew adrenaline would help me a lot, getting the blood flowing really helped me a lot. My trainer did a really good job of taping me. The last couple of days we just did some things that made me feel really comfortable and get me moving like I was not really moving. Going into tonight, I had no thoughts of lingering pain or how I was feeling. It was just going out and playing."
Despite being put in a good position to play relatively pain-free it doesn't mean Walton is completely out of the woods just yet, he's not quite ready to label himself completely healed just yet. Walton is more concerned about being ready and fresh for conference play.
"Of course it's not 100 percent right now," Walton said. "But with each day that passes it gets a lot better. That's that, I'm just staying the course and working on it every day so I can be 100 percent by Big Ten season."
The team will need him to be healthy now more than ever after senior captain Spike Albrecht announced that he is ending his playing career at U-M. For Walton, he doesn't feel added responsibility to fill Albrecht's shoes. He knows he's still going to be around.
He's putting more responsibility to be more vocal.
"Not more so resposibility, just a sense of urgency knowing that we lost one of our leadiers," Walton said. "His leadership can't be replaced on the court but of course he's with us out there off the court and in huddles. It just gives me a sense of urgency that I need to step up vocally, the way I carry myself. With Spike being out its really unfortunate, he's with us every day and we decided to do something special for him."