Michigan might be receiving a delayed Christmas present this weekend.
According to coach John Beilein, junior center Moritz Wagner could make his return from a right foot injury against Jacksonville in the nonconference finale Saturday at Crisler Center.
Beilein said if Wagner gets the all-clear from doctors, it will be up to Wagner whether he plays.
“He was able to practice the last two days,” Beilein said on Friday. “It’s been, like, 16 days (since the injury), so he looked like he hadn’t played in a couple weeks.
“I think that there’s no danger — that we feel, the doctors feel of any further injury. However, there’s still probably some soreness there so we’re trying to measure if he should play and we’ll see in practice today a little bit. I think that it’s 100 percent up to him of what he wants to do.”
Wagner suffered the injury during the second half of Michigan’s win at Texas on Dec. 12 when he drove to the lane and awkwardly rolled his right foot after stepping on a defender’s foot.
He missed Michigan’s last two games — a 90-58 win over Detroit Mercy on Dec. 16 and a 97-47 win over Alabama A&M on Dec. 21 — with a bone bruise before returning to Germany for the holiday break.
However, Beilein is wary Wagner will not only have to shake off the rust and get back into game shape due to the long layoff, but get readjusted after the long travel, as well.
“There’s two things that are going together,” Beilein said. “We got to remember that he just flew from Germany, landed and practiced and then practiced again right after that. So, that and the foot are two different things. We’re very hopeful he’ll be back really soon, if not for tomorrow’s game.”
If Wagner is unable to go, sophomore center Jon Teske will take over the starting spot once again and give him an extra three days of rest before Big Ten play resumes on Jan. 2 at Iowa.
Regardless, the decision will ultimately be up to Wagner as long as he’s cleared to play.
“Unless there’s something else that comes from the doctors, I’m not going to let him play if there’s risk of further injury,” Beilein said. “But if there’s no risk of further injury and if he wants to give it a go, I’m all for it.”
Freshman guard Jordan Poole has played primarily at the three behind redshirt sophomore Charles Matthews, but Beilein said Poole could see some time at the two spot in the future.
“We’re trying to just flip (Poole) and Ibi (Watson) right now so that he can play two positions,” Beilein said. “Ibi can play two now but we’re trying to give Ibi more opportunities maybe as the three man. I think he’s more comfortable there and Jordan would more equate to a two man.”
With Matthews having to sit out and not playing at all last season due to transfer rules, Beilein said he felt that’s where the team might need Poole to play the most heading into the season.
But with Matthews proving he can handle major minutes — he ranks second on the team at 29.1 minutes — that has apparently changed.
“Now we’d like for (Poole) to be able to go in and play either one,” Beilein said. “It’s making good progress. In your first year, it’s not the easiest thing to learn two positions, but he’ll be able to do it and we’ll shorten his package.”
Jacksonville at Michigan
Tip-off: 6 p.m. Saturday, Crisler Center, Ann Arbor
TV/radio: BTN/WWJ 950
Records: Michigan 11-3, Jacksonville 5-10
Outlook: The Wolverines have won four straight and are 7-0 at home this season…Jacksonville is 0-6 on the road and could be without leading scorer Jace Hogan (17.6 points), who has missed the past three games due to injury.