Michigan Basketball: 5 Things Zak Irvin Must Do to Meet Expectations

Daniel Stack@@stacdemonContributor IIAugust 8, 2014

Michigan Basketball: 5 Things Zak Irvin Must Do to Meet Expectations

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    If the Michigan basketball program is to compensate for the loss of guys like Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, some players will have to elevate their games, and one of them needs to be sophomore guard Zak Irvin.

    Blessed with a great touch from the perimeter and a body that is ready-made for the next level, Irvin could do a lot of good things on the basketball court. He had a fine freshman campaign, averaging 6.7 points while shooting .434 percent from the field and knocking down 62 of 146 three-point attempts. On a talented and veteran-laden team, he played more of a secondary role for the Wolverines last year.

    However, more is expected of Irvin this year. Here are five things he must do to meet expectations in 2014-15.

1. Keep Up the Productive Shooting

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    Suffice it to say, this will be the easiest thing for Irvin to do.

    He has shown he can shoot with the best of them, and with added maturity, he should only get better. And with Stauskas and Robinson III gone, his attempts should increase.

    With the increase in shots, hopefully Irvin can still have a respectable percentage from deep while proving to be the Wolverines' top secondary scorer to Caris LeVert.

2. Attack the RIm More

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    Irvin is a great shooter, but he is more than just a shooter.

    However, too many times he settles for taking jump shots when he should attack the rim more. With a body that is made for contact, Irvin has to be more than a catch-and-shoot player, as College Basketball Talk's Scott Phillips reported from last week's Adidas Nation events:

    Since Raphielle picked Kaminsky and Louisiana Lafayette’s Shawn Long only played two days of the camp, I’ll go with Michigan sophomore wing Zak Irvin, who didn’t appear to be much better than when I last saw him in Indianapolis during the Sweet 16/Elite Eight weekend. Irvin can still perform as a catch-and-shoot player, but after losing Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Irvin needs to step up this season and do more off-the-bounce. That didn’t happen at adidas Nations. Irvin struggled with two-dribble pull-ups and was stripped multiple times while trying to drive to the basket. Still plenty of time before November, but Irvin doesn’t look much better than last season.

3. Crash the Boards

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    With the Wolverines losing McGary, as well as Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, rebounding will be a concern for the team all year. With limited depth and experience along the front line, Michigan will need all hands on deck when it comes to rebounding.

    That said, the Wolverines will need to have a group mentality when it comes to rebounding this season. It's imperative that Irvin ups his rebounding totals (he averaged 1.3 in 15.4 minutes last year). At 6'6”, 215 pounds, he has the body to mix it up down low, and he will have to attack the glass more often this season to be a complete player.

4. Play Better Defense

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    Again, with the personnel they lost, the Wolverines need some of their studs to up their game, and that goes for playing defense as well.

    Irvin was by no means a slouch defensively last year, but in order for Michigan to be elite, it needs its stars to step up. In particular, Irvin has to be a more determined defender. With his body, makeup and skills, he has the chance to be an above-average defender.

    Look for Irvin to be up for the challenge.

5. Become More of a Leader

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    With all the early departures that Michigan has endured the last couple of years, the team hasn't had many senior leaders to lean on; therefore, the program has had to rely on some of its juniors and sophomores to lead the way.

    While LeVert is the elder statesman and de facto leader of the team, Irvin (as well as fellow sophomore Derrick Walton Jr.) have to embrace leadership roles as well.

    To be a well-rounded player, Irvin has to lead vocally or by example. 

    If he excels at the five things mentioned in this slideshow, he'll be in line to have a fantastic sophomore season.


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