After the amazingly first-class season last year, how much was genuinely expected from the Wolverines this year? Coming into the season, they had come off of a heartbreaking loss in the National title game vs Louisville last season, 82-76. Where Luke Hancock was preposterous in his scoring and shooting expertise. But in the end the Wolverines couldn’t handle the Cards and their explosive team.
The Wolverines came in, with pretty concrete expectations throughout all of it. Which is always challenging to deal with as a team. It’s a long season, and a season is far from decided in a 6-7 game span. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Last years success came mostly from the offensive side of the ball, putting in more FGs than any other team in the country last year. And of course, with Trey Burke playing impressively all season long.
Playing in the Big 10, the most challenging conference in the NCAA, with 5 teams ranked in the polls. Michigan coach John Beilein has to get the most out of this team each and every night they take the court. A hot streak put together, they can hands-down surprise folks again, and put them back in the snug drivers seat.
Led by sophomore guard, Nik Stauskas, who has been nothing short of fantastic this year, is knocking down everything he puts up, shooting 44% from behind the arc, scoring 17 a night and getting his teammates the ball, and keeping them involved as well with 4 dimes a night. Last year, he was known for the most part as the spot up shooter, coming off curls and popping up deep jumpers, this year he has greatly improved his ball handling skills and is creating a bit more for himself and his teammates off the dribble. Nik has to get to the next level and become the Wolverines leader on the court, be the man to take a team on his back and lead when the game gets tight.
Become the identity of the team. Much like Trey Burke did last year.
Despite losing 2 players to the first round of the NBA draft, with Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.,The Wolverines still are a powerful offensive team. Based off of harmonious scoring, even with Stauskas being their leading scorer, its very essential for them to keep the likes of Glenn Robinson and even Caris LeVert involved as well. They need to go on doing the important things like out-rebounding opponents. Which the Wolverines have been good at on the year, keeping opponents off the offensive glass, allowing only 9 a game.
The Wolverines need to become more aggressive to make a serious push in the tournament. They have to take the ball to the paint and get teams in foul trouble. And when teams know most of your shots are coming from outside, they will change up and defend accordingly. They have to break it down and not count upon the outside shots so much.
They have dropped in the polls, and seem to be in free fall from the radar for many. But I think that many folks are overreacting to the losses a bit as well. Hot shooting, and shirking defense is what has hurt the Wolverines of late. Most teams in the NCAA go through stretch where they struggle.
Most, not all, *cough* Syracuse.
The Wolverines may have a “less than amazing” team, but they still have a very good team. They have some issues, as does pretty much every other team, as well. I believe they can work through those, and can make a strong late season push to credibly go deep in the tournament.