Walton Starts, Shows ‘High IQ' in Win vs. WSU

Derrick Walton

Michigan coach John Beilein opted to give true freshman Derrick Walton the start at point guard for the Wolverines in their final tune up before regular season play. After a slow start, Walton found a rhythm on both ends of the floor.

ANN ARBOR—In Michigan’s second and final exhibition of the season Monday night against Wayne State, true freshman Derrick Walton got the start at point guard over sophomore Spike Albrecht.

“I wanted to give Derrick and Zak (Irvin) as many minutes as we could out there,” Beilein said afterward. “I think they needed to get out there and make some mistakes and have some success.”

Struggling to find a rhythm in their half court sets offensively in the early going, scoring just two points in the first four minutes of play, Walton got a breather and came back off the bench to provide a spark on both ends of the floor.

Zipping a pass to Nik Stauskas on the left wing for a three-pointer before knocking down a triple of his own, Walton appeared to settle in.

Defensively, Walton moved his feet well playing tough on the ball defense, nabbing a steal and going the other way dishing the ball to Stauskas again, this time for the lay-in and the foul.

“I really like his potential to play really good on the ball defense,” Beilein said. “And, they were running some action today that he had to think about it a little bit and he spotted it right away and called it out.

“It was really rare for a freshman point guard -- I think we’ve got a really high IQ player there.”

Walton finished the first half with seven-points including 4-of-5 makes at the free throw line to go with two assists and one turnover.

“I think our point guards do a really good job delivering the ball right where I need it,” Stauskas said afterward. “Really fast, too.”

Walton finished the night with seven-points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field with four assists and two turnovers.

Despite the turnovers, Beilein remains encouraged by Walton’s play in the early going.

“He really values the basketball so we want him, we got to teach everybody, how to go full speed and still keep your wits about you,” Beilein said. “So he’s learning and trying to pick those spots here and there and pick where his shots are, get used to the ball screen, and learn to use that more and more.”

Still unsure who might get the start at point guard in Michigan’s regular season opener this Friday against UMass-Lowell, Beilein is just happy to have a few different options.

“I’ll wait and see how it shakes out but Derrick, both of them have shown us great ability to just run a team and you can throw Caris in there for a few minutes if you want to as well,” Beilein said.

“It will shake out but Derrick and Spike, I just feel blessed to have both of them. I think there was a year two years ago where if Trey Burke got in foul trouble we were a far different team.

“And now, if somebody gets in foul trouble or having a tough game we can turn and we got not one, but two guys we can go to and that’s big.”

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