It’s almost March and the Big Ten regular season title is still available for the taking, and the Michigan Wolverines are more than capable of winning the Big Ten title and possibly winning the Big Ten tournament in March. However, the Wolverines have recently lost three of their last five games, and with an upcoming re-match against Michigan State this weekend, Wolverines have to start making some much-needed adjustments starting now before they face Michigan State and finish the rest of their Big Ten schedule.
One of the first adjustments that needs to be addressed is Glenn Robinson III. He has been to inconsistent this season and with March Madness being right around the corner, Robinson must play better. When it comes to the offensive side of the ball, Robinson III has no problem slashing to the rim and finishing against contact, the problem continues to be his jump shot.
Now I understand that Robinson III is adjusting to his new position on the perimeter and I have taken in consideration the fact that he played out of position last season but at this point, he needs to step up. When it comes to his jump shot, it goes back to taking good shots and executing on those shots. He has a tendency to either take bad shots or pass up on open shots and he can’t continue to do that.
Most importantly, Robinson must learn to let the game come to him and learn how make an impact regardless of whether he is struggling to score or not. When I say that he must let the game come to him, I am basically saying that he can’t go into a game thinking he has to score 15 or 20 points. He needs to be thinking about playing lock-down defense, controlling the boards and hitting wide open shots. As I mentioned before, he must also learn how to make an impact when he is struggling to score. Whether he’s got a good start or a bad start, he’s must get in the habit of continuing to look for his shot and be aggressive. While he is doing that, he needs to make a point to have an impact on the boards and defensively, if he can do those things, he will be fine.
I said this before but Robinson reminds me of how Tim Hardaway Jr was during his early years in Michigan. If you go back to Hardaway Jr’s early years, you will notice that he was similar to Robinson III, meaning he had a tendency to think too much and not let the game to come him but once he finally did, you saw a major improvement, see his senior year at Michigan as proof. I think if Robinson allows the game to come to him and starts to make an impact besides scoring, he will be fine and so will Michigan.
After Robinson, the Wolverines need to start focusing on improving their overall defensive play. Starting with their transition defense, which has been inconsistent all season. A lot of it really comes down to communication and not making a point to get back on defense after a miss shot.
When it comes to the communication aspect of it, the Wolverines need to be aware of the opposing player or players running free and make a point to call out who’s got who. The Wolverines have to be quicker when it comes to figuring out certain defensive assignments and they must be able to it quickly while in transition. Like I said above, the Wolverines must also be quick with getting down the court and communicating. To many times this season, opponents have taken open jump shot because the Wolverines are still down the court standing around and watching and that’s unacceptable as well.
Which leads me to the fact that the Wolverines need to continue stepping up when it comes to hitting the boards. At times this season, they have done great on the boards but they still haven’t been consistent enough on the boards. Honestly, a lot of their rebounding inconsistencies start with the interior defense. Guys like Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford must do a better job of being more physical in the paint because when they are more physical, their rebounding numbers improve.
Last but not least, the Wolverines must continue to have certain role players step up. I mentioned earlier that Robinson has to step up because we know Stauskas can’t carry the load by himself but that doesn’t mean Robinson is the only who has to step up, others have to step up as well. In particular, Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin.
When it comes to Walton, he has been really great these last few games, despite Michigan losing three of their last five games and if the Wolverines plan to keep having success, they will need Walton to continue playing well. Like I said before, Walton isn’t Burke, and he has never claimed to be but there is no doubt that Walton is key part to the Wolverines success. It starts with his ability to create and score, as of late, Walton has helped by taking on part of the offensive load and with his ability to shoot and slash, there is nothing stopping him from scoring consistently. Walton is the spark of this Wolverine team and if Walton can find a continuous way to spark a fuse, Michigan is in good shape.
As far as LeVert and Irvin are concerned, I would like to see both be more consistent with their jump shot. Like most young players, both have a tendency to force shots and they need to do a better job of taking open shots and executing them. If they do, it will be huge for the Wolverines. Besides that, they also need to continue making impact on the boards on the defensive side of the ball. The Wolverines must be able to count on other players besides Stauskas and those players are Glenn Robinson III, Derrick Walton Jr, Caris LeVert, Zak Irvin, Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan. Keep in mind that they all these players don’t have to score big numbers to help, they each have responsibility and roles, as along as they play their role consistently, Michigan will succeed.
Overall, the Wolverines are still in good shape, contrary to their recent struggles. Nik Stauskas continues to beat the blueprint and Jon Hordford is having an underrated seasons, considering the impact he makes on the defensive side of the ball and on the boards. Then you add that with the experience and great coaching that this team has and the Wolverines are in good shape, they just need to make few adjustments and they will be ready to go come March Madness time.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit