12th Man Report: UM basketball…
More questions than answers
The University of Michigan men’s basketball team had the second-most successful season of any team in the nation a year ago — they made it all the way to the championship game, just coming up short against Louisville.
After Trey Burke’s departure, there was going to be an obvious gaping hole at the point guard position. Add the early departure of Tim Hardaway Jr., and you’ve got two veteran starters gone from a very successful team.
But a strong corps of players remained. Guys like sophomores Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. The point guard position was a question mark, but freshman Derrick Walton Jr. and sophomore Spike Albrecht looked like they were going to share time as the floor general, which they have.
Including a pretty impressive freshmen class and the returners, the Wolverines were a preseason top-ten team. But after a very rocky start — one that’s seen them lose to unranked Iowa State and unranked Charlotte — they’re barely a top-25 team, let alone a top-ten team.
Not to put the blame on any one person, but not having Trey Burke has completely changed this team. Sure his scoring was impressive — and he was always reliable down the stretch — but his ability to facilitate was more important to Michigan than his ability to drop 3’s.
Guys like Robinson III, who is supposedly a potential lottery pick, have looked lost this season. And the reason is because Burke got him almost all of his looks a year ago. Sure, Robinson III is a freak athlete and has a lot of potential. But without Burke making room and finding him for ally-oops etc., Robinson III hasn’t been able to create his own shot. And he’s not the only one on the team with that problem.
Besides Stauskas, who’s been Michigan’s go-to scorer, everyone else has done a lot more standing around than scoring. Supposedly sophomore Caris LeVert put on a bunch of muscle this off-season and transformed into a beast…I beg to differ.
Regardless of what’s happened so far, these early struggles might just be growing pains; this is a very young team. The team will mesh and the offense should settle into something other than give the ball to Stauskas or throw up 3-pointers. Until that time, I guess Stauskas will have to keep doing what he’s doing, and when McGary is completely healthy, he cant hurt the Wolverines’ cause either.