October 30, 2013

Robinson raises some eyebrows

Glenn Robinson III had a quick message for U-M point guard Spike Albrecht last night … and perhaps for the Big Ten and beyond. His 2013-14 debut will give a lot of people something to think about.

Somewhere along the way toward a 33-point night, Robinson knew his hands were about to spontaneously combust. He passed the info along to Albrecht, who fanned the flames.

"It felt great," Robinson said. "I told Spike, 'If you see me open, just give it to me. I'm feeling it right now.' That's what he did, he and Caris [LeVert]. I got them a couple of assists."

A couple, to be sure. Albrecht finished with four and LeVert a ridiculous 10, thanks in part to the sophomore forward's 12-for-15 shooting night, including 4-for-6 from three-point range. Robinson also dropped in all five of his free throws in Michigan's 117-44 decimation of Concordia, with three rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Yes, it was Concordia, which last made the NCAA Tournament … well, never. But for a first impression, Michigan's effort wasn't second-rate.

That means something to the 6-6, 210-pounder. He wanted to make a statement, individually and collectively with his teammates.

"That's our mentality coming out," Robinson assured. "We want to dominate, right from the start. We want to get out defensively, get steals, run, play our game. That's something we stay focused on, and we did a good job of that."

Robinson wants to take a leap forward from his rookie season, when he averaged 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, playing the power forward spot for the Wolverines. He's focused on the small forward this season, although John Beilein says those two are essentially interchangeable.

Mostly, Robinson wants to show he can do everything he needs to on the perimeter - hit shots, handle the basketball, rack up assists, and demonstrate the athleticism to defend. He felt like he took strides in all of those areas on opening night in Crisler Arena.

"I hope this is just the start," he said. "I've been working really hard in the offseason on my game. There is a lot more to come. A lot of people don't know my style of basketball or how I play, just because we had different guys who could do that last year. We have multiple guys who are capable of doing that this year, and I just have to have my nights where I have to step up."

He stepped up in a big way with the basketball in his hands. Last year, he shot a very strong 57.2 percent from the field, 32.4 percent from three-point range. He missed his first shot against Concordia, then went on an absolute tear.

U-M head coach John Beilein continually points out there are a couple dozen or more extra shots to be had per game, with Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., off in the NBA. Beilein assured that while Robinson showed great patience as a rookie, some of those opportunities will now be going his way.

Meanwhile, Robinson noted freshman point guard Derrick Walton started out a bit nervous against Concordia, but settled down to toss off four assists himself. Walton's slick passing efforts didn't go unnoticed by anyone in the building, and Robinson acknowledged those skills will make the rookie fast friends among the shooters.

"Oh yeah," he said, with a grin. "Oh yeah. Definitely. Just like Spike. That's why we all like them."

Robinson added that there's chemistry off the court with this team that translates onto the hardwood, evidenced by 26 assists in the rout.

"We all hang out, goof around in the locker room," he said. "These guys have a real good connection, just like last year's team. That's something that will help us greatly on the court."

It looks like Robinson will provide more than a little help himself. If the goal involved coming out dominating, there's one check mark already on a lengthy season's sheet.

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