Freshman Robinson Blending In For No. 2 Michigan
NOAH TRISTER,AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — From the moment Glenn Robinson III joined the Michigan basketball team, the freshman looked mature beyond his years on the court.
“There were some scrimmages early in the year, just intersquad scrimmages, he might not take a shot,” coach John Beilein said. “He just waits for the game to come to him and picks his spots.”
Robinson is making the adjustment to college look awfully easy for the second-ranked Wolverines, and Sunday was perhaps his best game so far. The 20-point, 10-rebound effort against Iowa was his first double-double — and after a couple energizing alley-oop dunks, it was impossible to ignore the 6-foot-6 forward.
The son of the former Purdue star with the same name, Robinson has been content to blend in quietly in his first season at Michigan, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t contributing. Nicknamed “Light Rob” because of his ability to score and rebound without much fanfare, Robinson cedes most of the attention to standout point guard Trey Burke and talented scorer Tim Hardaway Jr.
“A lot of people are going to kind of stay locked in on Trey and Tim, and I think that it’s my job — and a lot more guys off the bench — to score,” Robinson said. “I just take my opportunities and read the defense and try to help the team out as much as I can.”
At this point, Robinson might not even be Michigan’s most hyped freshman. Nik Stauskas is shooting 54 percent from 3-point range, while Mitch McGary brings physicality off the bench. But Robinson, a starter since the opening game, may be the most efficient of the three, averaging 12.5 points and shooting 59 percent from the field.
“He’s a team guy,” Beilein said. “He just really understands his role on the team and plays it extremely well.”
Robinson is also tied with McGary for the team lead in rebounds.
There was nothing subtle about Robinson’s performance Sunday, when he showed off leaping ability Iowa couldn’t match. He had an alley-oop from Burke in the first half, then another in the second. Robinson also made an early 3-pointer when the Wolverines were down 10-4 and reeling a bit, and he hustled down the court for a last-second layup to give them an 11-point lead at halftime. Michigan went on to win 95-67.
Michigan, which tied for the Big Ten title last season, now looks like a national championship contender. The Wolverines (15-0, 2-0 Big Ten) host Nebraska (9-6, 0-2) on Wednesday night.
A lot of Robinson’s success is because of the chemistry he’s developed with Burke, who leads the team in scoring and has become one of the nation’s top players. In his last 10 games, Burke has 79 assists and only 11 turnovers, and the list of maize-and-blue beneficiaries is a long one.
“We’ve got that kind of connection. In practice all the time, we practice lobs,” Robinson said. “I’ve played with some great point guards, but not like him.”
Robinson can play on the perimeter, too, going a solid 11 of 29 from 3-point range.
“He’s been shooting really well for us lately, and just doing whatever he can to help the team out,” Hardaway said. “Whether it’s defense, getting offensive and defensive rebounds and running the floor.”
Hardaway, a junior, may be the player Robinson is most similar to. They’re the same height and both are comfortable shooting from outside or finishing around the basket.
But right now, even Hardaway is a bit flattered by that comparison.
“Not the same exact player,” Hardaway said. “He’s way more athletic than I am.”
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