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Zak Irvin eases way back on court for Michigan

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan put up 88 points and rolled all over Elon on Monday night, and the Wolverines’ most valuable player from a year ago didn’t score a point.

Not that Zak Irvin’s points are what matter, right now.

All that matters is that he’s on the court.

“He’s battled back here, all the way from July to August, September, October, now November finally being able to play a little bit,” coach John Beilein said. “It’s good we got him in there.”

The game was the first of the season for Irvin, the junior swingman who had back surgery in September.

He missed the opener against Northern Michigan, and was expected to miss much more than that — after not missing a single game his first two years at Michigan.

But Irvin told Beilein on Saturday that he was ready to play. Beilein, always cautious, told him to sleep on it, and the message was the same before practice Sunday.

Then, of course, during practice Sunday, he got poked in the eye by an assistant. When it rains, it pours, eh?

“It’s been a rough thing for him,” Beilein said. “He adds so many things to our team that are intangibles.”

Irvin entered Monday’s game at the 11:42 mark of the first half, and took his first shot 11 seconds later.

“I had a little space right when I got in the game,” Irvin said. “Go ahead and let it go.

“Once I got that first shot off, I felt pretty good.”

Irvin missed, and missed his other four shots, too. Beilein wasn’t concerned, saying Irvin, who averaged 14.3 points last season, will get his points — and that his shot actually looked good Monday.

Irvin did have one rebound and three assists in his 15 minutes, to go with his good defense that Beilein was very quick to point out.

Elon only had two field goals in Irvin’s first 5 minutes, 39 seconds on the court.

“I felt like it was my first college game, I’ve been out for so long,” Irvin said. “I had a little jitters when I got out there.

“I’m beyond that (the injury), mentally. All the rehab I’ve been going, it’s been great.”