Nik Stauskas

Getty Images

Nik Stauskas trolls Ohio State fans, claims Thad Matta didn’t know who he was (PHOTO)


Former Michigan wing Nik Stauskas couldn’t wait for Throwback Thursday to irk some Ohio State fans.

The 2013-14 Big Ten Player of the Year posted this 2013 picture on his Instagram page on Monday afternoon. It shows him staring down Buckeyes’ head coach Thad Matta in No. 3 Michigan’s 76-74 overtime win over No. 10 Ohio State. Stauskas, then a freshman, had 11 points, including three 3-pointers.

The caption reads: “… P.S the day before this game coach Matta was interviewed and didn’t know my name and didn’t know who I was. I took it personally.” That part is inaccurate. Stauskas was a starter for the Wolverines. You’d hope Matta would be familiar with the starting five of a Big Ten rival, especially one his team played against earlier that season.

The actual quote Stauskas is referring to, according to Nick Baumgardner of, was “The wing, No. 11, I have trouble saying his name.” Matta also said that prior to Ohio State’s first meeting with Michigan that season, a 56-53 win for the Buckeyes on Jan. 13, 2013.

[h/t College Spun]

Zak Irvin will be good, but he’s not the next Nik Stauskas

Zak Irvin (AP Photo)
1 Comment

As a freshman, Nik Stauskas was the third or fourth option for Michigan, a sharpshooter used strictly to spread the floor.

An average offensive possession for Stauskas? Standing in the corner and spotting up, which would either create space for Trey Burke or Tim Hardaway Jr. to get to the rim or allow him a wide-open, catch-and-shoot three.

That was the role that he was asked to play.

The same can be said for Zak Irvin last season, another 6-foot-6 shooter that played limited minutes as a freshman whose primary role was spreading the floor for, you guessed it, Stauskas.

And as Brendan Quinn of laid out in this column from Tuesday, there are some expectations for Irvin this season, namely that he will follow in Stauskas’ footsteps and become the centerpiece for Michigan’s offensive attack.

That, frankly, is unfair for a number of reasons.

Let’s start with the obvious: Stauskas was the Big Ten Player of the Year, a second team all-american and a lottery pick. Asking any player to fill those shoes puts unneeded pressure on them. Irvin can get better as a player and have a productive season for the Wolverines without coming close to that kind of performance.

But that’s not all: Irvin and Stauskas are very different players. Stauskas is excellent in pick-and-roll situations. He could cross people over, he could beat people off the dribble and he was a very good passer. Irvin had just four assists combined in Big Ten play and the postseason. He’s not going to thrive the way that Stauskas did as the centerpiece of John Beilein’s offensive attack.

You know who will?

Caris LeVert.

If there is anyone on Michigan who is going to act as a replacement for Stauskas, it is LeVert. The 6-foot-6 combo-guard is not the same caliber of athlete and he’s not as good of a passer or a shooter as Stauskas, but he can take over games and he can make plays with the ball in his hands in pick-and-roll actions. And don’t forget about Derrick Walton, who is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign.

Irvin has a chance to be a very good player at Michigan.

Just don’t expect him to be the next Nik Stauskas.

Fascinating look at Michigan’s increased use of the pick-and-roll

John Beilein

Here’s a trivia question for you, one that I’m not sure that I could have answered until just a few minutes ago: Which team has posted the best single-season offense during the KenPom era (2002-2014)?

Give up?

It was Michigan this past season, as their adjusted offensive efficiency was 124.1, meaning, essentially, that on an average offensive possession, the Wolverines scored 1.241 points. That number barely beat out Chris Paul’s 2005 Wake Forest team and the 2012 Missouri team that won 30 games while playing with four sharp-shooting guards.

Crazy, right?

Perhaps what’s even more impressive is that the Wolverines were actually better offensively than they were when they had National Player of the Year Trey Burke, first round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr. and a healthy Mitch McGary during the 2013 season, when they “only” led the nation in offensive efficiency.

That’s not necessarily a huge surprise. Head coach John Beilein has been known as an offensive mastermind for a long time, and the last two years he’s coached two lottery picks — one of whom was National Player of the Year — two more first round picks and a trio of guards coming back this season that will have a shot at getting drafted in 2015. Give a brilliant x’s-and-o’s tactician NBA-level talent and the result is almost always going to be positive.

But what has made this offensive explosion so impressive is that Beilein has completely revamped the way that he coaches offensively. Back in his West Virginia days and his early seasons with the Wolverines, Beilein ran an offense that featured a two-guard front, plenty of movement and a number of different offensive sets. His first season at Michigan, the Wolverines used ball-screens just 4.6% of the time offensively.

And now, as beautifully lays out, the Wolverines are running ball-screens on nearly 30% of their possessions. It’s why they are winning, and it’s a huge reason why his players are getting drafted as high as they are.

In 2013, everything that Michigan did ran through Trey Burke. It was his ability in the pick-and-roll, and the fact that the Wolverines spaced the floor with a myriad of sharp-shooters, that allowed them to make a run to the national title game. His ability in ball-screen actions is what made him appealing to NBA team.

The same can be said for Stauskas. If he couldn’t operate in the pick-and-roll as well as he did last season, he wouldn’t have been the No. 8 pick in the draft. He might not have been a first rounder.

And all this came from a change in coaching philosophy more than three decades into Beilein’s career.