Caris LeVert is the most improved player on the roster from last season
Last season, Caris LeVert played marginal minutes, mostly as a defensive specialist.
This season, Michigan will be relying on him for scoring, rebounding and occasionally running point guard. A lot can change in one offseason, especially when a player puts in as much work as LeVert did. During Michigan’s exhibition win on Tuesday, LeVert finally got to show off the fruits of his labor.
The sophomore finished the game with 16 points, 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals in a little over 20 minutes. LeVert hit one 3-pointer, but most of his other points came off drives to the hoop.
“When you don’t have a lot of weight on your body, it’s not fun to go in and crash and go to the basket,” Beilein said of LeVert after the game. “I think he feels better that way.”
The Pickerington, OH native certainly looked more comfortable, especially when Concordia brought pressure. LeVert has point guard-level handle, displayed most effectively in a nasty crossover-eurostep combo late in the first half.
LeVert also showed off some improved athleticism, throwing down a couple of nice dunks on the fast break.
“That’s really a tribute to coach Sanderson, our strength coach,” LeVert said after the game. “I was really in there a lot this summer, working with him. That really helped us.”
Nik Stauskas is a more versatile player than last year
Nik Stauskas scored 24 points on Tuesday. Only six of them were from beyond the arc.
His box score was an indication of Stauskas’ improved versatility, as he manned ballhandling duties for much of the game and looked very comfortable creating opportunities on the perimeter.
According to Stauskas, that development has been a joint effort by him and Robinson.
“With Trey and Tim leaving, those were guys who got a lot of shot-clock plays, created off the dribble,” Stauskas said after the game. “Glenn worked a lot on his jumpshot in the offseason, and I worked on my jumpshot and getting to the basket. The fact that we were able to show that today is great.”
Stauskas was one of Michigan’s most efficient pick-and-roll players last season, and it’s clear Michigan coaches are going to try and place him in more of those situations. But it’s not just on offense that Stauskas appears to be much improved.
Often a liability on defense last season, the sophomore hopes to prove his defensive chops this year. He looked quicker on his feet against the admittedly far inferior Cardinals. That being said, Beilein has noticed a difference.
“Anybody who’s watched Nik can see that, like most freshmen who are now sophomores, he’s at a different level defensively,” Beilein said.