Michigan head coach John Beilein is still tinkering with his lineups, looking for the right combinations. He talked about that and more Friday - we break down his comments in this News and Views segment.
News: Nik Stauskas was the focus of Duke's defense in a loss Tuesday and did next to nothing on a bad ankle.
Beilein: "They just face-guarded him in the corner. It's a box-and-one with man-to-man principles. They're going to want you to play four-on-four. There's very little you can do for him at that time."
Views: The game plan was to deny Stauskas the ball, Beilein continued, and it worked. Beilein acknowledged that Stauskas wasn't 100 percent but also admitted, "it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway."
They set more screens, etc., but the offensive action and timing isn't what it will be later in the year. Beilein acknowledged he'd continue to work with combinations to see what works best, but expect other teams to copy the Blue Devils' formula.
Caris LeVert stepped up, but others, especially Glenn Robinson III, will need to get better in order for the Wolverines to meet their potential.
News: Robinson III continues to work to find ways to make an impact on offense.
Beilein: "We're working on finding his niche, finding what is good for him. We worked all fall on it, we'll work every day from here on out. There's no magic formula right now.
"First of all, he's a very good shooter and he hasn't shot the ball well," Beilein said. "He's shooting 20-something percent on threes (7-28, 25 percent) and that's the thing that he'll fix. It's just, getting him comfortable in some action that he's really comfortable with. One of those things is flying around and being a slasher and a burner. That's what he's really good at. I think he's the best off-the-ball cutter anywhere around. So we're trying to do a lot of that with him."
Duke's game plan was to make Robinson beat them from the outside.
"Glenn has been a residual player since the day he's walked in here," Beilein added. "It's not a thing that all of a sudden he's going to become this immediate ball screen player that is just - the Tim Hardaway jumpshot - he's just not there yet, and he's working at it and he won't stop."
Views: But he can be a better rebounder and work like crazy on the glass when he's not a factor on offense, and that's something he hasn't done. Robinson III should get four to six points on offensive rebounds and stickbacks alone each game with his insane athleticism, and that's just grunt work.
Robinson's offensive game should continue to expand, but it's a work in progress. Steals and finishes, rebounds, etc. - those are effort plays he's capable of making in the meantime.
News: Mitch McGary continues to work himself back into game shape after being all but sidelined for three months with a back injury. The good news - the back isn't bothering him much anymore.
Beilein: "His conditioning is probably still a little bit below average. He's working really hard, but think about it. He did not jump in the air or run, except for the pool, for three months.
"We could work his tail off every day, but if we do that, he could be tired for the game. You just don't get a guy in shape right away, especially with that body and those responsibilities. The big man is now a sprint game. It's not an 'I'm going to wrestle with you in the post for 40 minutes,' it's 'go out, hedge a ball screen, run back. Go out, hedge or set a screen, run back, run back.' You all know those suicide sprint drills where you run the lines? That's what a big man does all game long. And it's hard."
McGary's getting his touches, but it's where he's getting the ball they're working on. Regardless, he needs to get in better shape.
"I did a drill with him yesterday and he was gassed in two minutes," Beilein said. "It was a hard dunking drill, but he was gassed in two minutes. It's going to take time."
Views: Conditioning affects everything - shooting, concentration, defense, name it. Michigan will be a much better team when McGary rounds into form. Big men Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford simply don't have McGary's offensive capabilities at this point, though they've shown flashes.
U-M needs better point guard play, more from Robinson and a healthy McGary to have any chance to compete for a Big Ten title.