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January 4, 2014

News and Views: Robinson questionable for Northwestern

Michigan head coach John Beilein doesn't like to talk about injuries, and he wasn't exactly candid in describing sophomore Glenn Robinson III's status for Sunday's game with Northwestern (Noon, BTN). Robinson appeared to turn his ankle in a win at Minnesota, sidelining him for the second half.

"I can't give you much of an update," Beilein said. "He did rehab all day yesterday, but we'll know more for sure then. We'd love to see him out on the court. Yesterday his rehab was good rehab but as you can tell by me, don't like to give much info on injury, you and I and everybody will know tomorrow."

Views: Beilein wouldn't offer an opinion and whether it would be a long-term deal or any other details. If Robinson couldn't go, they'd decide tomorrow who would take his place in the starting lineup.

"The other day we used Zak Irvin in there most of the game. Jordan Morgan has been the other, right side wing if needed him to, as well," Beilein said. "Those are our only options right now. We're diminished now down to eight scholarship players if Glenn cannot play. The bench is shorter, but more people get a chance to play.

"Pretty much the way we've always worked with injuries or not is what's important right now. That's to get this team ready with the roster we have without Mitch McGary, maybe without Glenn, and prepare the best we can. If both were healthy right now, it would be the same situation with them - who do we have right now healthy and how do we put them in the best position to win? It doesn't bother me one bit. It's a job to put the puzzle together despite any adversity you face. This time it's through injury."

Reading the tea leaves, the guess here is Robinson rests. Northwestern under new coach Chris Collins is a bit of a hot mess at 7-7 with no signature wins, though there are some capable pieces.

The question is, how long would Robinson be out? We'll know more tomorrow - maybe - but the Wolverines might just have to take their chances with the Wildcats for the good of the long run.

News: Freshman point guard Derrick Walton showed poise on the road in a big win at Minnesota, notching four assists to one turnover.

Beilein: "Both he and Zak have gotten significant minutes so far to be able to do this. They've had typical freshman outings, some much better than typical freshman. The last game was one of those for Derrick. He really did a great job, made two big foul shots

"He's growing. He's understanding there are certain angles to the offense that are very important, and he may not completely understand the angles to defense, as well. He's learning on the fly. We're really blessed he has such a high IQ. He can't get an A on the first test every time, but his grades are growing and he's moving forward."

Views: Walton is a great passer who is still learning how to get himself in position for assists. It's the angles he takes that are preventing him from maximizing his potential, Beilein noted, and the fact that he's seeing different defenses every day.

He's also struggling to finish, though part of that is knowing when to try and when to pass it out.

"It's like a quarterback in football, a rookie," Beilein said. "It's timing and sometime the reads are so hard, but pretty soon it's going to get to be much different.

"When you drive and see there are two men waiting for you, too, you have to know there are another four teammates. He took a couple shots with guys on him when he should find other people in situations. He's learning all these things, and we're excited to spend the next four years working with him."

He has a great teacher in coach LaVall Jordan, and Thursday's win was a big step in his development. When he's confident, Walton has the ability to be one of the Big Ten's better freshmen. They'll need him to be in order to contend in a tough Big Ten.

News: Jon Horford took a huge step forward against the Gophers with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Beilein: "That's what he's been working for so hard. The game continues to slow down for him, and he gains more confidence in what he can do. His rebounding and one particular pass he threw are signs he is playing bigger. He's getting more 50-50 balls, is in the right spot at the right time. All he needs is continued minutes so he can continue to improve as overall player."

Views: At the same time, Beilein added, it was only one game. The Wolverines will need Morgan to step up at times, too, and who plays more will depend on the match-ups.

"We have to hold on and watch what he does, but it was a really impressive performance," Beilein said. "It's whoever is playing best and what the best matchup can be. Sometimes if there's a stretch five, it may dictate who we play defensively, and it depends on foul trouble issue with both of those guys."

Both, though, have stepped up in McGary's absence. If it continues, the Wolverines will have a shot to finish with an impressive Big Ten record.

News: Mitch McGary is slated for surgery next week on his lower back and is expected to miss the year.

Beilein: "I'm not sure how that got out there. All we'll say is he'll have surgery soon, and we'll make sure we update you."

Views: Will he come back for another year? It depends, but it's very possible. Some scouts have said they want to see him go through one more healthy year before they'd take a risk on him with a first round pick - more than anything, though, we wish the big man a healthy and speedy recovery. He's everything that's right with college basketball, and the game needs more like him.


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