As Michigan”s two leading scorers this past season, junior LaVell Blanchard and sophomore Bernard Robinson formed a dynamic duo that garnered respect from opposing defenses.
But the duo”s problem was that they didn”t always get along, and the respect for each other wasn”t at its best.
“The relationship wasn”t there like we wanted,” Robinson said. “But now it”s getting better and we”re working on it.”
Robinson said that the two didn”t talk very much last year and didn”t get a chance to build the chemistry they needed to be a forceful combination on the floor.
A mild-mannered and quiet Blanchard could easily have been misled by the body language of Robinson, whose off-the-court issues last season got in the way of Blanchard”s “team first” and “just win” attitude.
“I think were weren”t talking like we were supposed to,” Robinson said. “We weren”t speaking on another level with each other.”
Robinson said that things have changed and that he sees a closer-knit group of Wolverines that can translate to a better performance on the court.
“But now everyone, including me and LaVell, have come together and are so close,” Robinson said. “And that”s why we”ve been doing so well in practice.”
Blanchard agrees. He says that he hangs out with Robinson off the court sometimes, but mostly in a group setting with his other teammates.
Robinson “is a great player and hopefully we can play together and get some wins,” Blanchard said.
Robinson was suspended for last Sunday”s exhibition, and Blanchard sat out the second half due to a nagging ankle injury, but Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said he expects both to practice this week.
Making a point: Michigan”s starting lineup on Sunday was affected not only by Robinson”s absence, but also by Amaker”s assessment of each player”s performance in practice.
The Wolverines” starting five consisted of Blanchard, Chris Young and Leon Jones, along with Gavin Groninger and fifth-year senior Mike Gotfredson at the point a position which Amaker said is hotly-contested.
Gotfredson, a scrappy and defensive-minded guard who reminds teammates and coaches of former Duke antagonist Steve Wojciechowski, began the game at the point. But Avery Queen, who started the majority of the games last season, played 28 minutes.
“I like the fact that we”ve created a competitive environment between our practices and I think it sends a message,” Amaker said. “It”s important that our guys realize, with a competitive environment, you have to earn your stripes every day.”
Queen and Gotfredson each had three points and two turnovers, but Queen had six assists while playing 18 more minutes.
Long range: Over half of Michigan”s shots on Sunday were from behind the arc the Wolverines nailed 13-of-31 3-pointers, good for a 42-percent clip.
“We”ll take that shot if we”re open,” Amaker said.