Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who deserves the most blame for Michigan's losses?


It’s been a tough stretch for the Michigan basketball team.
The Wolverines have now lost three of their last four and have four losses in the Big Ten.
Granted, Michigan played a gauntlet of top teams in their last four games, but an “elite” team finds ways to win some of the games the Wolverines have lost.
Tuesday’s loss at Michigan State was clearly embarrassing for the Wolverines. Not only did they lose, they were never in the game. Michigan State owned Michigan from the tip and all of the Wolverines’ flaws appeared at once.
Michigan is a better team than it showed on Tuesday, we all know that. But, in order for the Wolverines to reach the Final Four, they are going to have to beat a top-level team in an environment away from home. The NCAA Tournament may not be quite as hostile as the Breslin Center or Assembly Hall, but the games will have just as much, if not more, pressure.
Is Michigan choking in these loses? I don’t think the whole team is, but some clearly are.
John Beilein – It’s tough to take credit away from the coach, because he has recruited well and built the Wolverines into what they currently are. But, Beilein needs to pick up some marquee wins away from home to solidify that he is the guy that can take Michigan to a Final Four or more. Big Ten titles are good, but I think we all want to see Michigan reach a Final Four before we give them credit in the national picture.
Glenn Robinson III – Robinson has been a complete disappointment in the last three losses. He has a combined eight points in those games on 4 of 16 shooting. He also has just nine combined rebounds. He did have eight points in the loss to Ohio State and was more aggressive, taking eight shots. On Tuesday, it was like Robinson wasn’t even at the Breslin Center. It’s one thing to have a rough night shooting, it is another thing when you seemingly give up. Michigan is going to need Robinson to contribute come March Madness.
Nik Stauskas – Stauskas hasn’t been nearly as bad as Robinson in my opinion. He has bounced back from his scoreless effort at Ohio State, though that was pretty bad. Stauskas had 10 points on Tuesday and 10 at Indiana, but just five in the loss to Wisconsin. He has struggled with his 3-point shooting in defeat, as he is just 4 for 17 from beyond the arc in Michigan’s four losses.
Trey Burke – I know, I know. Burke has been amazing this season and the Wolverines would be half the team they are without him. I can’t say Burke deserves a lot of blame in these losses, but I do think he can play better than he has. Tuesday was his best showing in a loss, as he went 7 of 11 with 18 points, but he had just four assists, which is well below his average of 7. He also spent more time than Michigan can afford on the bench, due to foul trouble. At Wisconsin, Burke was just 8 of 21 shooting and also had just four assists. At Indiana, Burke was 9 of 24 shooting, but did dish out eight assists. At Ohio State, Burke was only 4 of 13 shooting with four assists and four turnovers. Burke is at his best when he has a balance of scoring and facilitating. He makes his teammates better most nights, which is why Michigan has been as strong as it has been this season. Sometimes Burke looks like he feels he needs to put the whole game on himself, and that leads to lapses in scoring for the whole team. Granted, his teammates need to step up to help him, but he also has to play at a higher level in these games. He’s an incredible talent, but he needs to lead this team to a big win away from home.

So, who deserves the most blame for Michigan’s losses? I say it’s Robinson, but it’s not 100 percent on him. What are your thoughts?

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