Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Michigan v Wisconsin

Michigan’s most important player this month? It’s not Trey Burke

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The most important player for Michigan as we head into Selection Sunday isn’t their Player of the Year point guard, Trey Burke, or their first-team all-Big Ten shooting guard, Tim Hardaway.

It isn’t Nik Stauskas and it isn’t Mitch McGary, either.

The guy that will be the determining factor in how far Michigan will end up going in the NCAA tournament is Glenn Robinson III.

And it’s simple, really. Michigan is not a very good defensive basketball team. They weren’t early in the year, and they’ve progressively gotten worse as teams have started to figure out where they are the most vulnerable. Just look at what happened to them on Friday. After Wisconsin started ice-cold from the field, scoring all of six points in the first 13:34 while shooting 3-20 from the floor, they still managed to take home a 68-59 win in the Big Ten quarterfinals. Robinson had eight points on 4-8 shooting, another quiet night that has become an all-too-familiar trend.

Michigan gave up 62 points in the final 26 minutes to Wisconsin, who shot 19-37 from the floor during that stretch. That’s bad.

So what’s wrong with the Wolverines? Well, McGary big and burly, but he doesn’t have the lateral quickness to guard in space. Burke can make plays defensively, but he gambles and can also be beaten off the dribble.

Perhaps most importantly, when Michigan is at their best, they have four perimeter players on the floor, meaning only one of McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford plays at one time. That puts them at a serious disadvantage in the paint regardless of who is on the court, whether Robinson is at the four or John Beilein is playing four guards.

Here’s the thing about Robinson, however: not only is he the biggest wing that Jon Beilein has at his disposal, but he’s also the most talented. So not only does he have the best chance at holding his own in the post and on the glass, he’s the most capable of taking advantage of a mismatch on the perimeter.

The problem is that he doesn’t do that often enough.

Robinson is a knockdown three point shooter that has terrific athleticism and length, and at 6-foot-7, he’s mobile enough to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim in a single dribble. But he settles, limiting himself to being nothing but a spot-up three-point shooter.

The whole reason that Michigan was considered a title contender was because they had NBA caliber athletes playing the same roles in the same offense that Beilein has always run. But when Robinson disappears and Michigan is forced to use Spike Albrecht at the two, sliding Hardaway and Stauskas to the forward spots, it takes some of that advantage away.

And it really hurts them defensively.

So unless GR3 decides to play like the potential first round pick that he is, Michigan is not going to live up to their potential.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Lonzo Ball struggled on UCLA’s Australian tour

Lonzo Ball (UCLA Athletics)
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UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.

This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.

It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.

There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:

– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.

– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:

UCLA needs to travel with more towels.

VIDEO: Mixtape for ton ten prospect Hamidou Diallo

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Hamidou Diallo is arguably the most in-demand scoring guard in the country.

He currently holds offers from Duke, Kentucky, Indiana and Louisville, among many others, and in the mixtape above, you can see why. He’s has explosive as any guard that has come through college basketball since Zach LaVine, which is why his mixtapes are so enjoyable to watch.

Plus, the beat that Ball Is Life uses here is sick.

LOS ANGELES, CA. JULY 26, 2016. The Academy. Hamidou Diallo #33 of Putnam Science Academy dunks. (Mandatory photo credit: Jon Lopez/Nike).
Jon Lopez/Nike

Former Michigan State star arrested for third time in four months

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Photo via Wayne County Prosecutor's Office
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For the third time since May, former Michigan State star Keith Appling has been arrested in an incident involving a loaded gun.

According to police, Appling was the driver of a car that was pulled over on Sunday night in Detroit. After an officer detected the scent of marijuana and requested Appling’s license, Appling rolled up his window sped off. He was stopped a short time later, but officers noticed that a Gucci bag that was in the back seat his car was missing. As they went over the route of the pursuit, they found the bag, which contained a loaded handgun and paperwork with Appling’s name on it.

In June, Appling was arrested when, during a traffic stop, he was in the back seat of a car where a handgun was found in the floorboard. That happened a month after he was arrested in the parking lot of a Dearborn, Michigan, strip club when a handgun and a loaded AK-47 were found in his car.

Tennessee football to honor Pat Summitt with helmet sticker

KNOXVILLE, TN - JULY 14:  Flower wreaths line the wall at Pat Summitt Plaza before the start of a ceremony to celebrate the life of former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt at the Thompson-Boling Arena on July 14, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Summitt died June 28 at the age of 64, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. (Photo by Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics - Pool/Getty Images)
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Tennessee’s football team will be wearing a commemorative sticker on their helmet this season to honor the late Pat Summitt.

Summitt coached the Lady Vols for nearly four decades, building the women’s basketball program into a goliath in the sport and simultaneously doing more than just about anyone to advance women’s athletics in this country while becoming the winningest Division I college coach of all-time.

“We’re excited about wearing a commemorative sticker on the back of our helmet to honor the late Pat Summitt,” football coach Butch Jones said. “We know everything she stands for. I think it’s very fitting that Tennessee football and Team 120 recognize her and everything she means to the University of Tennessee and state of Tennessee.”

The stickers will look like this:

Tennessee athletics
Tennessee athletics

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.