Friday night, Duncan Robinson did his best Nik Stauskas impression.
After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Robinson made his long-awaited debut in an exhibition against Le Moyne. The redshirt sophomore guard entered the game with 13 minutes left in the first half, caught a pass from redshirt freshman forward D.J. Wilson on the left side of the arc and fired. Swoosh.
“Coming off the bench, I usually like to get a couple of minutes under my belt before I jack one up,” Robinson said. “But D.J. made a good pass on that first one, and I found myself open.”
Just 64 seconds into his Michigan career, the Williams College transfer looked to be as smooth-shooting as advertised — as Stauskas-like as advertised.
Truth be told, Stauskas wasted even less time introducing himself to Michigan faithful. On Nov. 1, 2012, in an exhibition contest against Northern Michigan, Stauskas debuted five minutes into the first half. Six seconds after coming off the bench, then-freshman forward Glenn Robinson III dished to Stauskas who drained a, 3.
A bit less time off the clock than it took Robinson, but that might be the only difference. Consider this: In Stauskas’ debut, he went 5-for-8 from the field, 4-for-6 from 3-point range and tallied 17 points in 19 minutes. On Friday, Robinson was 6-for-10 on field-goal attempts, 3-for-6 from deep and totaled 15 points in 18 minutes.
Robinson might be just the piece to fill the void Stauskas left beyond the arc. In the 2013-14 season, the Wolverines attempted 794 3-pointers and made 319 of them. Stauskas accounted for 29 percent of those made. Last year, after Stauskas left to the NBA, Michigan suffered from the perimeter — making 70 fewer 3-pointers and attempting nearly 100 fewer. In Stauskas’ sophomore season, Michigan ranked first in 3-point percentage in Big Ten games, but without him last year, it ranked eighth.
Take away two inches from Robinson’s 6-foot-8 stature and add three-finger goggles in front of his eye after a made 3-pointer, and you might not be able to tell the difference between him and the 6-foot-6 sharpshooting Stauskas.
Robinson might not have all the swagger that Stauskas had, but he does have one thing that the former Wolverine doesn’t: Michigan’s practice shooting record. Last December, Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein said Robinson broke the team’s practice shooting record that formerly belonged to Stauskas. Stauskas — now playing with the Philadelphia 76ers — told the Daily this summer he has heard that Robinson might even be able to take him in a 1-on-1 shoot-off.
One thing Stauskas had that Robinson doesn’t have yet, though, is a spot in the starting lineup. The last time he came off the bench was in high school; he doesn’t completely remember when. At Williams, Robinson was the only freshman starter who coach Mike Maker had in his six years there, and for good reason. Robinson led the Ephs to a 28-5 record and shot 45.6 percent from deep in his only year with the team. For now, Robinson is OK with his off-the-bench role.
“There’s definitely some advantages to coming off the bench,” he said. “You’ve got to get a feel for the game in the first couple of minutes. Maybe see what’s working offensively as a team, what (the opponent) is doing and stuff like that. (It’s a) new perspective, but I’m willing to embrace any role on this team.”
Any role. The reemergence of a Stauskas impressionist wouldn’t be a bad one for him to fill.
Correction appended: An earlier version of this story referred to the Williams basketball team as the Red Foxes. The team’s correct nickname is the Ephs.