UM's Walton will travel; status still uncertain
Ann Arbor — Michigan sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr. made some progress on his injured foot by getting around in two shoes instead of a walking boot last week.
But whether he's able to return to the lineup when the Wolverines face No. 14 Maryland today still is unclear. Coach John Beilein said Walton will make the trip but given his limited workouts this week, he's not likely to play.
"We're going to try to do a few things with him today; we did (Thursday) and it wasn't promising," Beilein said Friday. "But we'll see how his foot reacts after yesterday's very light workout. He'll make the trip but I'm not thinking right now that he'll be available."
Walton has missed the last seven games because of foot injuries. Initially, he had turf toe, but he sustained an additional injury after he continued to play on it.
Without Walton, the Wolverines have gone 2-5, ending a five-game skid with Sunday's win over No. 24 Ohio State.
If Walton is able to play, it would be his first game since Jan. 24, a 69-64 overtime loss to Wisconsin. He's averaging 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3 assists in 19 games.
Beilein said Walton had a light 15-minute workout on Thursday, but had some trouble completing it as he would have liked.
He added part of the difficulty in assessing the extent of the injury because it's in Walton's foot.
"We don't know whether it's soreness of not working out but we'll know more (Friday)," Beilein said. "Hopefully, he's going to play again this year.
"At one time we thought he'd be back for Ohio State but he wasn't," Beilein said.
"(Then) maybe the next week or a week off would help. We're not going to play him when he's injured."
Michigan has three games remaining in the regular season: at Maryland, at Northwestern and the home finale against Rutgers before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 11.
One of the biggest question marks about UM"s future is whether Caris LeVert will return for his senior season. LeVert suffered a season-ending foot injury and is recovering from a second fracture in as many years to a bone in his foot.
LeVert, a 6-foot-7 guard is projected as a late-first-round pick by some analysts but after having his stock evaluated following last season, he has a good indication of what he needed to work on to prepare for the NBA.
Beilein said he's only begun the process of working through that process with LeVert.
"We've begun just preliminary talks as we go forward and we'll do more after the season ends. We're always looking for feedback on where he'd be projected," Beilein said. "My job is to help his gain information so he can make an educated decision.
LeVert had been using a knee scooter just after the injury, but has been using crutches as the foot has been in a walking boot in recent weeks.
Both Michigan and Maryland are coming off big wins last week. The Wolverines topped Ohio State and Maryland dealt Wisconsin its second Big Ten loss. Michigan ended its five-game skid and is holding on to slim postseason hopes, needing a couple more wins in its last three games.
That could get the Wolverines to the NIT — and with three wins and a run in the Big Ten Tournament — a potential NCAA bid.
"They'd have to make a really big step in these two road games — Northwestern is really playing well right now. For us to go and get either one of these, or both of these, road games is showing we've made huge steps," Beilein said. "That would be really big for us to be able to finish strong on this year.
"You need the Spikes to be incredible and everybody is going to have to play pretty well. We've shown we can do that but the other team is trying to stop us from doing that."
Michigan at Maryland
Tip-off: Noon Saturday, Xfinity Center, College Park, Maryland
Outlook: It's the first meeting between the two teams and the seventh overall (tied, 3-3). Maryland's lone home loss was against No. 2 Virginia.