Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood. Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out. WHAT DOES MICHIGAN PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Production from Glenn Robinson III
- Why it will happen: Glenn Robinson scored a career-high 23 points against Holy Cross on Saturday, which followed a 17-point performance in a win over Stanford. And for one half against top-ranked Arizona, he was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field. Mitch McGary, a preseason All-American, is out indefinitely, electing for back surgery earlier this week, meaning the Wolverines will be looking for more from Robinson to go along with leading scoring Nik Stauskas. In four games since scoring just eight points in an ugly offensive performance against Duke, Robinson is averaging 19.3 points per game as the Wolverines are heading into Big Ten play.
- Why it won’t happen: Going back to two weeks ago when Michigan lost to Arizona at home, Robinson posted only four points in the second half – two of which came when Kaleb Tarczewski was holding his ankle on the other end of the floor. Earlier in the season he was clearly struggling without last season’s player of the year Trey Burke. Those struggles could continue into conference play, especially with Michigan balancing the point guard play between Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht.
WHAT DOES MICHIGAN SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF? Miss on opportunities to land marquee wins
- Why it will happen: The Wolverines entered a top-10 team, but without a healthy McGary, they have missed out on opportunities to defeat Iowa State in Ames, Duke in Cameron and Arizona at home. Heading into conference play — again without McGary — Michigan will have ample opportunities to land a win over a ranked opponent. The Wolverines will have four conference games — Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska and Penn State — to prepare before traveling to Wisconsin, the first of three games against ranked opponents (two of them on the road). Michigan could potentially play four more games against Top 25 teams in February.
- Why it won’t happen: Michigan has struggled without Burke, and now are without the inside presence of McGary. Michigan may have multiple chances to pick up quality wins, but those games could easily end with more tallies in the loss column leaving little room for error.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.