For those of you who have happened to stumble across an article of mine before, you’d probably agree that my occasional use of allusions does not usually extend past everyday pop culture or the everlasting angst surrounding my complicated relationship with Atlanta sports. But today, as I scoured the Internet for some applicable cultural link to Michigan’s recent tribulations, I landed on an unexpected source:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
This could very well represent the apex of my referencing prowess, but more importantly, it accurately represents the past few weeks in the misleading funhouse of deception that is this season’s Michigan Basketball team. Never before have I seen a team display such incendiary offensive lethality while congealing defensively into an impermeable force, only to follow such an extraordinary performance with comparative incapacity in the very same aspects (season of Light and Darkness sums it up pretty well).
This season could be conveyed, like the Dickens quote above, as a series of juxtapositions, epitomized by the performance over the last week; a 30-point trouncing of Nebraska at home, followed by a conclusive 20-point dismantling at the hands of Iowa on the road. Understandably, there are a number of emerging issues that need to be addressed as the Wolverines approach the final stretch of their schedule, and begin anticipating for the tournament.
- The GR3/Irvin Conundrum: Some may say it’s too early to be having doubts about one of the team’s most productive offensive weapons, but the fact of the matter is that we are beginning to see a trend of Glenn Robinson III failing to show up in big games. 9 points at Indiana, 9 points at Michigan State (a win), and most recently, 2 points at Iowa. Consequently, the recent success of freshman Zak Irvin, who poured in 35 points through last week’s two matchups, should serve as a warning for Robinson, who, although in no danger of losing his starting spot, could (and in my opinion, should) see some rightful playing time given to Irvin as his hot shooting streak burns on.
- The Stauskas Sabbatical: Through the month of February, Michigan has played three games. In those three games, Nik Stauskas, team leading scorer and (by this point probably the former) co-Big Ten scoring leader, has cracked double digits on the score sheet only once. He notched 10 in the loss at Iowa, after a measly 6 at Indiana and 9 at home vs. Nebraska (though that game he did tack on an uncharacteristically impressive 8 assists). I will be frank. I am the absolute last person who is going to throw in the towel on Nik Stauskas. That is why I am labeling his offensive struggles of late as a mere ‘sabbatical’, until the Beast of the Great White North returns to his usual beastly self.
- Frontcourt Woes: Contrary to what most experts anticipated upon seeing Mitch McGary sidelined, the Michigan frontcourt has managed to achieve considerable success, perhaps factoring in the seemingly universal low expectations. Regardless, the duo of Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford has been more than adequate as the Wolverines cut through the thicketed jungle of Big Ten play. But as the season marches on, we have begun to see certain inklings of decline, indicating that the clock may be striking midnight on the seasoned frontcourt combo.
Things are not set to ease up for the Wolverines any time soon, as the team travels to Columbus to square off with longtime nemesis Ohio State Tuesday night. Michigan will look to bounce back, hopefully with strong performances from Robinson III and Stauskas.