UM's Robinson goes from overlooked to off-the-hook

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Division I schools never came calling, not once, when Duncan Robinson was in high school in New Hampshire.

How that's even possible, given his sweet stroke and his ability to take over a game with one 3-pointer after another, seems beyond comprehension.

John Beilein shed some light on that, though.

Robinson was only 6-foot-4 in high school, and didn't really hit a growth spurt, and shooting up to 6-8, until after arriving at Division III Williams College — where, yes, the Division I schools finally started paying Robinson some attention.

"I guarantee we weren't the only ones recruiting him after he wanted to leave," Beilein said Robinson's time at Williams, which included a spot in the national championship game. "Creighton and Davidson were two teams coming hard at him."

But Michigan won the recruiting battle.

And what a win that's turning out to be.

Outside of Caris LeVert, Robinson has been the Wolverines' go-to guy on offense, scoring 14 and 17 points in his previous two games before matching his career high with 19 in Saturday afternoon's 82-57 victory over Houston Baptist.

Robinson's confidence is growing with each game. You can see it on his skinny face, and in his shot. Not bad for a kid who didn't draw a lick of Division I interest just a few years ago.

"My whole thing was not really to prove people wrong," Robinson said. "But prove myself right, that I could play at this level."

On the season, Robinson is averaging 11.5 points and shooting 59.5 percent from 3-pointers.

And that's after he missed his first four chances Saturday.

He followed that up by making his next five.

His teammates continue to trust him, even when he's missed a few. That's because given his height and his super-quick release, he's simply tough to stop, even if a defender's on him.

"Two of his first four shots were not good shots. They were shots that we take when you just made four in a row; you don't take that shot when you haven't made one yet," Beilein said, smiling. "We believe in him and we're gonna find him whenever we can.

"It's a great story, and I hope it continues the same way it is."

Road to recovery

Spike Albrecht remains a work in progress. He rehabs his surgically repaired hip some days, and practices other days.

As a result, he hasn't made a major impact this season, though Saturday, there were a couple flashes of his old self.

Specifically, when he went leaping for a loose ball and landed hard on the court — even though the game was well in hand.

Health be damned, Beilein loved it.

"I don't think you can turn that on and off," Beilein said. "I want him out there to do what he just did."

Albrecht's 12 minutes were his most since the season opener, and were necessitated by the injury to Derrick Walton Jr. (ankle), who didn't play Saturday and remains day to day.

As for where he is right now in his rehab progress Albrecht smiled and said, "I don't really know what's going on right now." He maintained his hope is to be ready for the start of Big Ten play, which kicks off Dec. 30 against Illinois.

Doyle delivers

In the battle for big minutes among the big men, Ricky Doyle made quite an impression against Houston Baptist.

He had seven of the team's 33 rebounds.

That was his highest total this season, and second-highest of his two-year career, after he had nine in a game last season.

"They were two-handed rebounds," Beilein said. "Ricky has a habit of boxing out with one arm and trying to rebound like 'The Fugitive' ... you can't do it with one arm.

"Today, he made contact and went up and got it with two hands."

Three of his rebounds were offensive rebounds, besting by one the entire team's total against North Carolina State on Tuesday.

Slam dunks

While Beilein is quite impressed with the offense of Robinson and Aubrey Dawkins (16 points Saturday), he said both still have a long way to go on defense.

Dawkins also had two traveling calls that made Beilein cringe in the win over Houston Baptist.

... Meanwhile, Beilein is becoming more impressed with the defense of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who played a team-high 33 minutes. "If you can establish the trust of the coaching staff," said Beilein, "you're gonna play. He's earned that right now."

... Michigan on Tuesday will try to make amends for last year's 62-51 loss to SMU.