Michigan’s Freshmen Have To Play Better

Brian Spurlock- USA TODAY Sports

If Michigan’s performance against Indiana on Saturday proved anything, it was that Michigan can only go as far as their freshmen take them, specifically Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III.

In the Big Ten showdown in Bloomington, both freshmen standouts struggled throughout the entire game.  Stauskas did not make a three pointer until garbage time and Robinson did not score a single point in the first 38 minutes of the game.  Stauskas missed some wide open three point shots, finishing 1-5.  In a game that was within one or two possessions for most of it, those misses really hurt the Wolverines.  Stauskas averages over 2.5 made threes a game, the Wolverines depend on that output mightily.  He is the guy who can stretch out the defense because they fear his three point shooting abilities so much.  But when he so obviously lacked confidence in his shot, as he showed by hesitating a number of times, the defense can compact more.

Robinson is the type of player who creates his own offense.  The team does not run specific plays for him, he does not even handle the ball very much.  Instead, he scores off of back cuts, offensive rebounds and by running in transition.  Robinson has averaged just below 12 points  a game as a freshman with this style.  But, it only works when he presses the issue.  Robinson has to go to out and make plays to be productive because the ball wont just come to him for him to take jumpers, or in the pick and roll.  Most of the game on Saturday, Robinson just stood around in the corner, where Indiana did not have to guard him and he was not a threat.  Robinson is too talented and too gifted of an athlete to just take himself out of a game.

Often freshmen contributions are a luxury that good teams can enjoy.  But for Michigan, they depend on the production of their freshmen.  They can’t be inconsistent and take games off, because so much of the team is predicated on strong play from the freshmen.  Michigan often has two to four freshmen on the floor at a time and at this point in the season everyone has to carry their own weight.  Mitch McGary delivered, playing decently against Cody Zeller.  However, Stauskas and Robinson did not really show up and that is a major factor in why Michigan lost.

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