In loss, it's clear UM's Albrecht, Irvin 'aren't there yet'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Zak Irvin has the ball knocked away in the loss to Xavier on Friday night.

Ann Arbor -- Xavier came into Crisler Center and bullied its way to victory over Michigan.

Xavier was tougher, stronger and faster in an 86-70 win Friday night.

"Their speed and strength was better than ours," Michigan coach John Beilein said.

But when asked if Xavier simply outhustled Michigan -- as it looked at several points, particularly on loose balls, or 50-50 balls -- Beilein wasn't ready to concede that.

It just may have seemed that way, he said, because Spike Albrecht (hip surgery) and Zak Irvin (back surgery), two of the Wolverines' energy guys, still aren't close to 100 percent.

Albrecht, who had been expected to be further along off the two, only played eight minutes Friday, while Irvin played 22.

"They'll get better," Xavier coach Chris Mack said of Michigan. "Obviously, Zak is coming off injury and he's probably practiced 40 percent of the time, same with Spike. They're a little banged up and he (Beilein) is trying to figure out his rotation.

"Hopefully he can figure it out after today. They're really good."

Albrecht finished with five points, including the only 3-point attempt he took.

Irvin finished with seven points, including a nifty 3-pointer on which he hopped from inside the line to outside and drained the shot.

But it's clear Albrecht still is laboring with his movements, and Irvin doesn't have quite the jumping ability he's used to just yet.

"They're trying," Beilein said. "They just can't get there."

Still, injuries aren't a good excuse for not getting to the 50-50 balls, Michigan players said after their first loss of the season.

It seemed Xavier got them all, some thanks to fortunate bounces, but many thanks to better hustle.

Michigan will try to improve on that starting Wednesday in the Bahamas, where some more good, tough competition awaits, starting with Connecticut.

"We've gotta be tougher," Caris LeVert said. "There's a 50-50 ball, there's no skill involved in that. We've just gotta go get the basketball."