Ann Arbor — Michigan coach John Beilein is getting asked a lot about Zak Irvin these days.
“If this is gonna be the drama all year long,” Beilein said, smiling, “it’s gonna be the drama all year long.
“There are a lot of players out there that will go through shooting slumps.”
Irvin’s slump, though, is quite the mystery, given he was such a threat from 3-point range as a freshman, but his percentages have steadily declined.
He’s been way off this year, making just 7 of 41 attempts — for a dismal make percentage of 17.1.
Michigan, as a team, has shot a splendid 41.1 percent from 3-point range. Just imagine if Irvin was actually making anything from beyond the arc.
“That’s a good thought,” Beilein said Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s final nonconference game against Bryant. “We’re going to keep working on it.”
Irvin, a junior swingman, shot 42.5 percent on 3-pointers as a freshman, and 35.5 percent as a sophomore.
He then had back surgery just before this season, which some think might be affecting his shots from long range. His vertical leap isn’t what it was before the surgery.
Beilein, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton Jr. said Irvin had a great shooting day at practice Tuesday, and the consensus it it’s just a matter of time.
Most say it’s confidence that’s the problem — it’s become a familiar sight to see Irvin pass up some good looks at 3-pointers — and not mechanical. Even if it was mechanical, Beilein said he’s not interested in tweaking anything because players have different bodies, hence different techniques.
“I’m sure he’ll break out in a game,” said LeVert, who has worked closely with Irvin as he’s shot before, during and after practice.
“Just seeing that ball go through the rim. As soon as he sees that first one go through the rim, the basket will be that much wider for him.”
Irvin has been an effective shooter inside the arc, and he’s passing and rebounding just fine.
Another thing he hasn’t lost: His attitude. He’s not fretting over this slump day and night.
“No, he’s a really confident guy,” Walton said. “No matter how many he misses, you can count on him shooting them agani. I don’t think it really fazes him.
“I think he’s about a game or two away (from busting out).”
Sophomore forward D.J. Wilson is recovering just fine from his sprained right ankle.
He showed that with a surprise cameo late in the Youngstown State game Saturday, when he scored 12 points in six minutes, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Wilson will play Wednesday, too, as he works toward being 100 percent. That’s a positive development for Michigan, which appears to be completely healthy with the Big Ten season right around the corner.
Wilson’s emergence could be particularly important, since Michigan’s three traditional bigs are struggling,.
“He is not a five-man right now, but he can do things we like our five-men do,” Beilein said. “Just trying to find his time and earn his time in practice.”
Specifically, Wilson needs to play better defense and rebound with more authority.
A fringe big man, he hasn’t had more than two rebounds in a game this season. Michigan’s rebounding is a huge concern, especially when Big Ten play starts.
That’s a wrap
No, Beilein didn’t join football coach Jim Harbaugh at the midnight “Star Wars” showing.
“I never understood the first one,” Beilein said, with a smirk.
Bryant at Michigan
Tip-off: 7 Wednesday, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor
Records: Bryant 2-9; Michigan 9-3
Outlook: Bryant has lost eight in a row after starting 2-1, though last time out it played Providence tough before falling, 74-67. Providence is now ranked 10th in the Associated Press poll. ... Bryant is located in Smithfield, Rhode Island.