The Wolverine

March 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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call. There's a time when you've ei‑ ther got to jump in the water or you don't jump in the water. You've just got to go. Can you swim or can you not swim? You've got to figure out whether you can do it and not look back. I want him to feel really com‑ fortable about it." Put yourself in LeVert's shoes. In three years, the future pro has suffered three significant lower leg injuries. That alone gives him "red flag" status among NBA organi‑ zations, especially if the injuries are related (for the record, Beilein wouldn't give specifics on the in‑ jury, noting it was a privacy issue and LeVert's prerogative to share details). Those questioning his heart shouldn't, Matt Shepherd, the voice of Michigan basketball, said. There's been no sense of frustration among coaches or teammates publicly or privately that suggest he wasn't do‑ ing everything he could to return to the court. "He's working exceptionally hard both mentally and physically to try and get back," Shepherd said Feb. 12. "I've talked to him, and I can tell you it's eating him up. He desperately wants be out there play‑ ing." Michigan can't reach its goals without him. Everyone benefited when LeVert was on the floor, none more than redshirt sophomore shooter Duncan Robinson. LeVert's ability to drive and dish created open look after open look for Robin‑ son, and LeVert also looked for the sharpshooter first in transition. One less playmaker on the floor had drawn that much more atten‑ tion to Robinson, whose shooting numbers have gone down in Big Ten play. Robinson was shooting 47.8 percent from three‑point range as of Feb. 15, but only 36.6 percent in con‑ ference games. "Knowing him, he'd be out there playing if he could," Shepherd said of LeVert. Beilein repeated his thoughts on LeVert Feb. 12, a day before the Wol‑ verines beat Purdue, 61‑56, to keep their Big Ten title hopes alive. There was no questioning his senior's intentions, he said. LeVert "wasn't ready" and would play when he and the coach thought it best. That day came 24 hours later, when LeVert returned to the court and notched five rebounds in 11 minutes. The buzz upon his entry showed just how much he'd been missed. "I'm really happy the crowd gave him a standing ovation when he came out," junior point guard Der‑ rick Walton said. "… It gives you some stability, one of our most expe‑ rienced guys and one of best players in the country out there with you. I'm just happy for him and ready to get him back on the floor for 25 or 30 minutes." ❏ Chris Balas has been with The Wolverine since 1997, working part time for five years before joining the staff full time in 2002. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at Balas_Wolverine.

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