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5 Things We Learned: Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Patrick Barron/Daily
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By Daniel Feldman, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 25, 2013

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico —

1. Nik Stauskas is this team’s only consistent offensive threat right now.

This is an easy one to see. After averaging a tournament-high 23.3 points per game, leading to a tournament MVP honor, it’s clear that Michigan is relying on the sophomore guard a lot.

The first glimpse was seen Thursday, when Stauskas scored 24 points on 7-for-10 shooting. The trend carried over to Friday, when Michigan (4-2) trailed by as many 16 in the second half against Florida State.

Despite a cold first half in which he scored just three points, Stauskas was central to Michigan’s dramatic comeback, pouring in 16 in the second half and seven more in overtime.

And it wasn’t even from jump shots — he drove to the basket, he drew fouls and he attempted nine free throws in the game.

Michigan coach John Beilein has said that with Stauskas’s added weight and strength, he wants him to draw more fouls and take more contact as he puts the ball on the ground.

The issue is that he can’t do it all. And while it’s unfair to say that no one else is contributing for the Wolverines, it is fair to say that no one is playing on the level of Stauskas.

Looking down the road, the team as a whole will need to raise its level of play. Especially if Stauskas’s ankle injury — he appeared to twist it, though he did stay in the game — proves to be more serious than originally thought.

2. Glenn Robinson III needs to demand the ball more.

This year was supposed to be different for the sophomore forward after he averaged 11.0 points on just 7.5 shots per game while playing third — if not fourth — fiddle on last year’s squad. This year, as captain of the team, Robinson was expected to be more of a vocal and scoring leader.

But up to this point, the expectations have not materialized. Sure, he is averaging 11.8 points, but he’s only taking 1.7 shots more per game compared to last season. And upon further analysis of the numbers, we see that he’s averaging 1.5 more 3-point attempts a game.

Yes, the sample size is small, but for a player that decided to stay another year after flirting with leaving for the NBA Draft, he needs to be doing more on offense.

He’s still deferring on open looks and not showing the aggressiveness he should as the No. 1 or 2 option for Michigan.

Robinson still averaged 10.3 points in the tournament, a figure that would have been higher if not for the hard foul he took on his back on Sunday that limited him to nine minutes and four points. Clearly he’s still making an impact.

But the back injury could hinder Robinson’s assertiveness. Michigan coach John Beilein said in his postgame press conference Sunday that the team was following trainers’ advice to keep him moving. The forward did start the second half before coming out after three minutes because he didn’t feel comfortable.

If the injury becomes more serious, Robinson will lose precious time to define the role he will play this season before Big Ten play starts.

3. Mitch McGary will only get better as the season goes on.

The sophomore forward didn’t start any games in the tournament, but when he did enter, his presence was felt immediately.

Playing in just his second, third and fourth games of the season, McGary looked every bit like the All-American he was picked in the preseason to be. After playing just 14 minutes in Michigan’s win against Long Beach State on Thursday, McGary played 33 on Friday as he battled against a tough front line from Florida State.

Knocking down bodies, making outlet passes and dribbling the ball in transition, the forward looked in mid-season form in Michigan’s win.

Against Florida State, McGary attempted 15 shots, well above his average of 5.7 last year.

Going forward, Michigan will need to run more of its offense through McGary to establish more of an inside game. In the tournament, Michigan attempted 77 3-pointers – 10 more than the next team, Virginia Commonwealth. The Wolverines also made the most 3-pointers, and finished with the second-most points in the tournament.