- Allison Farrand/Daily
By Daniel Feldman, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 18, 2015
It was like Nik Stauskas hadn’t missed a step when he was told to go in a corner of the Crisler Center media room for an interview.
Into the far left end of the room Stauskas went, back in his usual spot for postgame interview sessions. The former Wolverine was at ease in his home for two collegiate seasons at Michigan.
It’s far different than the year he has experienced so far with the Sacramento Kings.
The rookie has averaged just 13.6 minutes per game so far while producing a mere 3.4 points per contest. To boot, Stauskas will now have his third head coach in 53 games with George Karl now on board.
The NBA has been a culture shock for Stauskas. No longer is he the No. 1 option on offense. Now, he’s lucky to get a couple of shots per game, or even a few minutes.
That’s why his little stopover in Ann Arbor means so much to him.
“It’s been different for me,” he said. “I’m used to being here at Michigan. For two years we had a lot of stability — coaches, a lot of the same players. It’s a different kind of look for me.”
Being back in Ann Arbor gave Stauskas the chance to emphasize the importance of the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State in a pregame speech to the current team.
While his main message to the team was to simply have fun, it was clear he still wished he could help the Wolverines, as evidenced by his joke that he wanted “to steal (Andrew) Dakich’s jersey for a couple of minutes and go out there.”
However, watching from the stands would have to do.
“It’s just one of those things when you see Michigan State on the other side of the court,” he said. “There’s a part of me that no matter what, I always want to go out there and have an effect on the game. That’s just what this rivalry does to you after a few years. It’s different being on the sidelines and watching the game there.”
Stauskas wasn’t the only former Wolverine who returned to Michigan on Tuesday. Also making a cameo was Glenn Robinson III, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Similar to Stauskas, Robinson has had to adjust to finding his niche in the NBA. While more was expected of Stauskas, the eighth overall pick of last year’s draft, Robinson, a second-round pick, is using this year to grow into his body.
When Robinson was at Michigan, fans consistently wondered about when he would leave for the NBA.
With Caris LeVert potentially facing a similar dilemma at the end of this season, Robinson wanted the junior guard to know that he should talk to him before making any final decision.
“I told Caris when that time comes at the end of the season, whenever that might be, to give me a call and we’ll talk,” he said. “I know how it is to be in that situation, the pressure that you feel.”
The third former Wolverine to return to Crisler was Jordan Morgan. While Robinson spoke with the team on Monday and Stauskas made his own speech prior to the game Tuesday, Morgan also wanted to make to sure the team understood the importance of the rivalry game when he spoke with the Wolverines before Tuesday’s game.
“I just wanted to stress to our team the importance of this Michigan State game and the fact that what you do in this game against Michigan State to everybody around these programs,” Morgan said. “This game means everything. It doesn’t matter what you accomplish that year, whether you don’t do well or you go to the championship, what people are going to remember is what you did in that game.”