It was on January 22nd that the Michigan Wolverines welcomed the Iowa Hawkeyes to town but sent the home with loss under the belt. However, this time it’s the Hawkeyes welcoming the Wolverines to town and there is no doubt they are looking for a little revenge. Just like last time, the Wolverines have another big and tough game on their hands but just like last time, they are more than capable of coming out of Iowa with a tough win. However, for them to do that, they must follow certain keys to victory.
Now, last time the Wolverines faced-off against the Hawkeyes, their keys to victory were rebounding, bench scoring and offensive efficiency and those keys haven’t changed much for this game.
Offensive Efficiency and Taking Care of the Ball
Offensively, the Wolverines must set the offensive tone and pace, if you go back to the Indiana game that they lost, you will see that they didn’t set their own offensive pace and tone, they can’t afford to do that against the Hawkeyes. The offensive goal should be for the Wolverines to take good shoots, connect on open shots and capitalized while in transition. They can’t afford to settle for a lot of three-pointers or contested jump shots, the Wolverines must move the ball, make the Hawkeyes defense work and I say again, take good shots and connect on those shots.
With that being said, the Wolverines must also get their two young stars going early, those two players being Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines must get Robinson III involved early and often, but for Robinson III to be successful, he must take high percentage shots and use his ability to get to the rim and create. I understand that Robinson III is adjusting to his new-found role and working on his perimeter skill set but he has to become a more consistent force. When it comes to Stauskas, they must get him involved early and often too but in his case, he must get going from three-point land but Stauskas must also be willing to attack the rim and take mid-range jump shots for him to be offensively effective.
Most importantly, Robinson III and Stauskas must find other ways to make an impact besides scoring, when it comes to Robinson III, he needs to hit the boards because his rebounding normally helps the Wolverines to limit their opponents second-chance scoring and it helps the Wolverines increase their second chance scoring. Then with Stauskas, he needs to also hit the boards but I also want to see him get others involved, I mentioned before that he is an underrated passer and I stand by that. I also would like to see Stauskas step up defensively in this game, he did a great job defending Aaron White in their first game against Iowa and he needs to do so again.
As always, the Wolverines must take care of the ball. Now that hasn’t been an issue this season, considering the fact that they handle defensive pressure well but that doesn’t stop me from re-iterating the fact that they must take care of the ball, especially against the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes have a lot of length both on the perimeter and the interior, so the Wolverines can’t afford any lazing passing or excessive dribbling. Plus you have to remember that the Hawkeyes are just as effective in transition as the Wolverines are, so the Wolverines don’t want to give them to many chances to score in transition by turning the ball over.
Bench Scoring and Rebounding
As I mentioned earlier, the Wolverines will also need a few role players and bench players to step up as in this game, whether it be Derrick Walton Jr., Zak Irvin, Caris LeVert, Jon Horford or Jordan Morgan. Now, I personally believe Walton’s effective play is always the difference maker for this Wolverine team because he has the ability to score, create and perform in the clutch, but going into this game, the Wolverines will need more than one difference maker, which is why I am turning my attention to Morgan, Horford and Spike Albrecht.
I feel Albrecht has the potential to be a spark off the bench. Last game against the Hawkeyes, he dished out seven assists and grabbed four steals, filling the void of Walton who was sick. If he can bring that similar type of energy and production in this game off the bench, the Wolverines will be in good shape.
When it comes to Horford and Morgan, they will be needed in a big way because Iowa is big and they rebound well. So they can’t allow the Hawkeyes to generate a lot of second chance points, so Horford and Morgan must hit the boards but to do that they must also be physical and box out. The Wolverines’ offensive rebounding will also be key in this game, because it helps to create second chance opportunities for the Wolverines and considering how much they like to shoot the three ball, they will want and need second chance opportunities at times in this game.
Overall, I expect this to be a tough and competitive game but I think the Wolverines will come out victorious. Playing on the road is never easy, especially when playing Iowa but it’s not impossible to beat them on the road and if the Wolverines follow the keys to victory above, there is no reason for them not to win.
Also be on the lookout for the great Michigan native talent in this game. On the Michigan side you obviously have freshman Derrick Walton Jr. who is a product of Chandler Park Academy and senior Jordan Morgan who is a product of University of Detroit Jesuit High School but don’t forget about the other Michigan native talent in this game. On the Iowa side, you have senior Roy Devyn Marble, who is a product of Southfield Lathrup High School, then you have sophomore Anthony Clemmons who is a product of Lansing Sexton High School. With that being said, never let anyone tell you that Michigan doesn’t produce great young talent, whether it be on the court or the field.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit