February 7, 2014 at 2:01 am

Terry Foster

Glenn Robinson III might hold key to Michigan chances for NCAA Tournament run

Glenn Robinson III scored 23 points and made 8 of 14 shots during a 79-50 rout of Nebraska on Wednesday. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)

Ann Arbor — There was something wrong with Glenn Robinson III’s shot. It felt awkward. He wasn’t getting on top of the ball. The follow through looked rough and the ball flat-lined more than it arced.

So he called his high school coach Dave Milausnic and they talked basketball. Robinson said Milausnic helped smooth out an “ugly” jump shot in high school. Now when Robinson needs a tweak or boost he returns to his old foundation.

They talked and then Robinson went to the practice facility late one night this week and shot jumpers with Mitch McGary until the follow through felt smooth and all the bugs were ironed out.

Two nights later on a cold Wednesday night at Crisler Center, Wolverines fans saw Robinson’s pretty jumper. They also saw how dangerous this team can be when it is angry and when Robinson is on his game. Robinson scored 23 points and made 8 of 14 shots during a 79-50 rout of Nebraska.

It's a puzzle

If teammate Nik Stauskas is the most dangerous man in the Big Ten, then Robinson is the most puzzling. The guy can really play. What he needs to become is consistent.

“I have been playing with confidence and I told you guys my shot would fall,” Robinson said. “I had no doubt in my mind. My teammates did a great job of passing me the ball when I was open and I shot with confidence.”

It is easy to be a one-hit wonder, especially against a team that struggles on the road. Robinson does not need to score 20 every night but he looked tentative during a nine-point outing against Indiana a few days earlier. The entire team looked flat during a 63-52 loss to the Hoosiers.

Robinson is still a young gun on this team but needs to lead more by example because Michigan has guys willing to follow. Indiana was one of those agonizing games during which Robinson disappeared. That happens way too often. Indiana bounced Michigan, and that fueled anger that brought Nebraska to its knees. It also continued a trend that makes head coach John Beilein smile. The Wolverines bounce back quickly when they get smacked. Following losses they thumped Long Beach State by 21, Coppin State by 45 and Houston Baptist by 52 points. Granted, none of those teams are much of a threat.

Well, what about a victory over Stanford after a heart-breaking loss to Arizona at home? That was a big victory over a quality opponent.

“If you can’t bounce back in this league you will be done quickly,” Beilein said.

Michigan is not just a good basketball team. The Wolverines are dangerous. Even if McGary does not return they can make a nice run in the NCAA Tournament. However, Stauskas must adjust to being a marked man. He’s being eyed as Big Ten Player of the Year. But he is also a mark.

Going pop

Stauskas is being bracketed and teams finally realize he not only can shoot the 3-pointer but can destroy defenses with back cuts and nifty passes.

The focus is not on Robinson. This is where a veteran needs to shine. This can become the Robinson show as sure as it can be the Stauskas show.

“As he goes, we go,” Zak Irvin said. “Him going out and knocking down shots gives us energy.”

I talked to Robinson about consistency. He is athletic and can shoot, which should make him a dangerous man. Sometimes he is. Sometimes he’s not.

“I hope so,” he said when asked if he can become a consistent scorer. “I have been putting up the reps and working hard.”

Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton Jr., Stauskas and Robinson are all capable of big nights. That is why Michigan is dangerous when it is angry and focused. When these guys are on Michigan goes into “pop-off” mode. In other words, they are chatting and having fun.

But Robinson is a key figure. It might be unfair but he is a guy Michigan must lean on when Stauskas is off or is becoming more passer than shooter.

“We have multiple guys that can score 20 each night,” Robinson said. “We call it popping off or talking smack. We execute best when we are having fun.”


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