Ann Arbor — With Michigan mired in a losing streak, coach John Beilein could have used some encouraging news.
Having played the last six games without starting point guard Derrick Walton Jr., the Wolverines have struggled, including Tuesday's 80-67 loss to Michigan State at Crisler Center. The small flicker of light at the end of the tunnel was that Walton possibly could return this season and give a late push toward a turnaround.
But Beilein said after the loss to MSU that he wasn't sure whether Walton — who has been out because of turf toe and a subsequent foot injury — could come back in the final four games of the regular season.
"I'm not really confident we'll see him really soon, but it could be," Beilein said. "It could be a day where, all of a sudden, he feels great."
Beilein's plan was to see when Walton could be pain-free in practice and let him build up his conditioning so that he could play a few days later. Apparently, that hasn't come to pass, as he's continued to be out, since the overtime loss against Wisconsin on Jan 24.
"He's been trying but it hasn't gone as well as we'd hoped as far as getting him ready for any of these games," Beilein said. "You just don't know if the soreness that comes with the injury is part of not working out or it could be it's still injured. We're trying to figure it out and they're doing the typical types of examinations to see what it is."
Walton averaged 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3 assists in 19 games.