- Teresa Mathew/Daily
By Steven Braid, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 17, 2013
With six minutes remaining in the first half of the Michigan men’s basketball team’s matchup against Penn State on Saturday, Glenn Robinson III darted across the baseline and rose up to corral a lob from sophomore guard Trey Burke. With ball in hand, Robinson reacquainted himself with an old friend on the flight down: the rim.
But that wasn’t the only highlight from the freshman forward on Sunday. Robinson — who had been struggling as of late to produce on the offensive end, brought life into the crowd with an aggression that hadn’t been seen out of him in weeks, throwing down a season-high five dunks en route to a 21-point, 10-rebound performance in Michigan’s 79-71 victory.
“I think my first (field goal) was the (alley-oop) from Trey and that got the place going,” Robinson said. “We started to play defense, get our hands together and (started) playing more as a team. (Those dunks) definitely got me going.”
Entering the contest, the Wolverines’ opponents had rendered Robinson ineffective on offense during the past two weeks. He’d been held under double-digit points in three of the past four games and hadn’t reached his scoring or rebounding averages in more than five contests. And even when he was getting chances, he wasn’t converting — he had shot less than 30 percent during that stretch.
But an electric Robinson showed up to play against the Nittany Lions. Using his energy and athleticism to attack Penn State’s zone defense away from the ball early and often, Robinson created easy looks around the basket for himself by using backdoor cuts and sprinting hard off screens. He connected on all six of his field-goal attempts, all of which were either dunks or layups, on his way to a season-best point total and his highest scoring output since the first week of the season.
“His game is so evolving and developing that we don’t even know where it’s going to go yet,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “By running the floor hard today, by knowing when to go for an alley-oop, and (by) just being active around the basket — that’s the easiest way for him to feel comfortable around the basket.”
The most telling part of Robinson’s aggressiveness might have been his numbers at the free-throw line. The freshman connected on nine of his 11 free-throw attempts, equaling his combined attempts from the previous eight games. On multiple occasions in the first half, he got to the charity stripe after gathering an offensive rebound. By the end of the stanza, he had gotten to the line six times.
“The coaches are always telling me, ‘Be more aggressive, try to get to the foul line — that will get you going more,’ ” Robinson said. “So that was something that I tried to do and it kind of just came within the flow of the offense.”
The growth in Robinson’s confidence throughout the game might have been best exhibited by a sequence early in the second half. Six minutes into the period, the Wolverines were leading 46-40 and Robinson briefly woke up the lifeless crowd with an exciting two-minute span. During the stretch, Robinson threw down two dunks and a three-point play to score seven straight points for Michigan.
“This game was huge for him,” said freshman guard Nik Stauskas. “He’s had a few games where he hasn’t played his best, so to come out — I think he had 21 and 10 — that’s a great game for him.
“He had a bunch of highlight dunks and that’s what we want from him. We want him to get easy baskets and dunks in transition. I know he’s happy and I know his confidence is definitely going to get boosted from this performance.”