After questioning decision to stay in school, Glenn Robinson III hits his stride

Dylan Burkhardt

Michigan 73, Tennessee 71-20INDIANAPOLIS — Glenn Robinson III flirted with the NBA draft after last season, but opted to return to school. He vowed that there was more to his game that most hadn’t seen. He wanted to move to the three position and display his complete offensive game. (Photo: Dustin Johnston)

Things never quite went as planned. Mitch McGary got hurt and Robinson’s new role in the Michigan offense never materialized.

“At the beginning of the season, things weren’t going right,” Robinson explained on Saturday. “I was going to play the three and coach decided he wanted me back at the four when Mitch got hurt.”

The move was tough on the 6-foot-6 sophomore.

“I was kind of upset a little bit about that,” Robinson admitted. “I was kind of questioning my decision to come back.”

Michigan’s original plan was to play with two big men at the same, allowing McGary and Robinson to slide down a position from their freshman season. McGary sat out during the fall and Michigan was forced to work on a new plan.

“Because [McGary’s] injury happened early enough in late August, early September, we virtually did all of our individuals without him. We had a month of practice in October without him,” John Beilein said. “So we had that in place. When he came back, you know, then we started to work the other plan that we had over the summer. Then he went down again and we went back to plan A (without McGary). So it was a fairly seamless change back to the original plan that we started.”

For Robinson, a player eager to showcase his NBA capabilities, this was a disappointing blow. Not only was his best friend out of the lineup, he wasn’t getting the opportunity he felt he deserved. His uneasiness manifested itself on the stat sheet. He disappeared for long stretches, failing to reach double-figures in five of six games during Big Ten play, and received plenty of criticism from Michigan fans, NBA Draft ‘experts’ and the national media.

But recently Robinson has started to realize the opportunity in front of him and his play has followed. Robinson has reached double figures in 11 of his last 12 games. He’s 59 of 122 from the floor for a 52 effective field goal percentage.

“It was probably not until a fourth of the season [that I accepted it],” Robinson said. “And I just kind of let it go and decided to play my basketball. I had a great run actually for quite a few games there. I was like, ‘there’s nothing I can do about Mitch getting hurt, or playing the three’. Now I’m switching it up playing the four and three when Nik needs time out.

“I’ve done a good job of switching it up and taking my skills as a three-man and using it against slower four men like yesterday’s game.”

What’s been good for Robinson has been good for Michigan. Michigan is 10-1 since he’s improved his play and is back in the Elite Eight.

“To be able to make another tourney run is great,” Robinson said. “To get to play in front of all those fans for the school one more time and just being around my teammates.”

“Once you leave college you’re never going to be a part of a real team anymore. Guys are playing for contracts, for their families and everything. We’re actually one team that doesn’t care. We don’t care who scores or we don’t care who gets the credit. We are just out there to play basketball for each other.”

This Michigan team will have at least one more chance to play basketball on Sunday when it faces Kentucky for a trip back to the Final Four. For Michigan’s sophomores, leading a return trip to Dallas would be the ultimate validation after they supported Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. a season ago.

  • gobluemd16

    “To be able to make another tourney run is great,” Robinson said. “To get to play in front of all those fans for the school one more time and just being around my teammates.”
    He gone

  • guestavo

    Robinson said. “To get to play in front of all those fans for the school one more time and just being around my teammates.”
    Wonder what the draft committee tells him. I suppose if he leads UM to a title then his stock will probably bounce back nicely.

    • kam

      i honestly dont think he cares about what they say. i think he will leave either way

      • guestavo

        Can’t knock him for wanting to get paid.

        • kam


        • Indiana_Matt

          Plus I really think his stock could rise a bit after the combine, interviews with GMs and workouts. I think he finds a place late in the first round.

  • kam

    Sounds like he’s pretty much gone

  • tgio24

    Looks like the only question mark now is McGary…Stauskas and now GR3 are def gone

    • kam

      yup sounds like it.

  • gobluemd16

    I am surprised Glenn pretty much flat out said that. Saying “playing in front of those fans one more time” is about as close to declaring he’s gone as it gets

    • kam

      i felt it was pretty obvious he was gonna leave anyway

      • gobluemd16

        I mean, I thought it was probably closer to 50/50 than a sure thing. I definitely felt as if Nik was gone regardless

        • kam

          i figured he’d leave simply because all his instagram pics and tweets are about “dream chasing” and “getting to the money” cant really do that in michigan. i figured he was pretty much gone even when he was struggling. Mitch i kinda feel will leave too

  • JimmyZ5

    Definitely sounds like he’s leaning towards an exit. But I’m sure he’ll play the system like Burke did a few years back without jumping to a hasty decision. I’d bet that the NBA evaluation will still love his athleticism, and cut him some slack (or give him credit?) for basically playing out of position for two years.

    Plus if he’s a late 1st-early 2nd right now, then I think draft workouts will help him rise like THJ did. Natural talent, is probably an “A” player fundamentally after spending two years with our coaching — I imagine that helps in workouts where you’re going through tons of drills, and he’s a high character who’s shown he’ll play within a team.

    When it’s all said and done, I think he stays and goes before the 20th pick. Great size for a SG/SF, and has proven he can guard bigger players when called upon.

    He’s not all the way out the door yet though, so we’ll see. I have a hunch McGary will follow as well, FWIW.

  • Nick

    The thing is, he was back playing the four before Mcgary went out. I love Belein and the way he conducts himself, but telling Glen he would play the 3 this season was disingenuous at best. I know this constant turnover is a tremendous challenge but I hope we don’t see something like that again.

    • JimmyZ5

      Yeah. It’s a gift and curse.

      On the plus, we have players who are talented, developing, and performing at high enough levels to garner NBA interest. We’re winning a lot of games.

      On the minus, turnover does create roster uncertainty and makes recruiting difficult.

      As far as outlook, it’s tough to predict who’s going to emerge and leave early but I feel OK with our exits because these guys earned and absolutely deserve it. LeVert might jump next year, who knows. Irvin has physical talent, so he looks like he could be a 3&done guy. Chapman should be at minimum at 2 year guy. But I think that Donnal, Doyle, and Wilson are each four year players. And Walton is a bit small for NBA scouts to drool, but Trey Burke says hello. I think you can absorb exits at positions 2-4. It helps to have vets at PG and in the post, and we’ll have that. As long as we can continue recruiting scorers we will be in good shape.

      It certainly helps to say we develop PROS when you’re recruiting. So for the reasons I’ve mentioned…it’s a necessary evil right now. Michigan is in great shape despite early exits.

      • brian coburn

        It should make recruiting easier.

    • Mattski

      Lot of assumptions here. You don’t want to malign Beilein, I would think, unless you have pretty good access to what went down.

      • Nick

        I agree I’m making assumptions (who knows exactly what Belien told him). But I do remember GR3 at the 3 was the main talking point when he decided to stay, and I can’t believe that Belein honestly thought that they would do that very often after the great offensive year they had with him at the 4.

        • DingoBlue

          McGary was out at the start of the year, and he was probably the main reason why Beilein thought they could run a 2 post offense at times, thereby getting Glenn to the 3. Even when he came back, they had already been planning on him being out some time, so the brief transition when McGary was back was not practiced as much by the team. Then McGary elected back surgery and there was really nobody else who could play the 4. I don’t think Beilein was at all disingenuous with trying to make it happen, but I think the adjustments due to injury were definitely unfortunate for GRIII’s desire to play the 3.

          • Mattski

            I’m thinking NBA scouts will see some benefits in his having played the 4–it stretching his game–and it also buying him a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. I’d be curious what others thought about this. . .

    • Champswest

      Nick, your statements are incorrect. Did you read the article?

    • Chazer

      I believe JB will always do what’s best for the team First and his players second. I also believe his players know this and respect this. If the team is not successful then you have limited exposure on the big stage. I’d say the results of both the team and the players have exceeded expectations!

      Go Blue and thanks Glen!

  • Mattski

    I think he’ll go pretty high. His very high ceiling has been on great display the last four-five games. What I love is how he is stayed so much within the scheme while quietly growing in most/all facets. Guy is much more of a trooper than most people have realized. He’ll be like Hardaway and be great in the NBA, if not right away.

    • Indiana_Matt

      I feel like the work ethic and attitude that Michigan players have would set them apart from much of the pack. I see GR3 having a productive career. I hope he lands with a quality team that develops his talent.

  • guestavo

    Too bad because another year would do him well though I think he still excels at the next level. Now UM has an open scholarship if GR3 leaving is really set in stone.

  • Justin Harbin

    I know Glenn Robinson III and Stauskas are most likely gone, but I hope Mitch comes back. We’re gonna need him if we want to be elite again next year.

    • mongo

      I don’t think Mitch can come back. if he wants any chance of being a high draft pick he has to go. The NBA just doesn’t like older kids. Mitch is like 22 now.

      • brian coburn

        Hooray for generalities! Payne will be be older when he gets drafted this June than McGary would be next year. Are they going to shy away from him because of it? No, he will be a top 25 pick.

  • The Bluest

    I think he would be a fool to leave. He has shown a lot of potential, but has lacked a break out game. I don’t think Mitch should leave either. His stock should rise a lot after he proves he can perform at a high level after his surgery.

    • kam

      I bet you also thought Tim wasn’t ready

      • bballkdp

        Hardaway also didn’t leave until after his Jr. year!!!!!

  • Alex

    How is Billy Donovan at Florida able to get his players to stay four years. They made four straight Elite Eights and yet it seems like nobody leaves Florida. I know announcers were saying none of their seniors are first round prospects but if they’ve been a part of four Elite Eight teams you’d think they have enough talent to be coveted by the NBA.

    • Alex

      I will say this our guys who could be early entry candidates have earned it and it is their life and their choice. Also, I’m going to try to enjoy what we have and not worry about the future since it is clear we have a great staff for which recruits would be lucky to play.

    • geoffclarke

      I don’t know Florida’s players as well as ours, but in general, they’re not as skilled. I could see Young as Dennis Rodman/Ben Wallace type and maybe Wilbekin (sp?) as perhaps a Peyton Siva level player. so there’s your answer, maybe Prather developed too slowly.

  • jakelam2116

    As far as next year, I’m pretty sure all three are gone. So let’s enjoy this ride and hope it continues for another week! … And then we can look at the group for next year (in Beilein’s system, new guys will thrive — how about that Chatman?)

  • Nevin

    I think UM could sustain losses of Glenn and Nik, but losing Mitch would be tough. It would be tough not to have a dominate player like McGary who could anchor both the offense and defense.

    I predict GRIII and Nik are gone, but Mitch returns (hopefully).

  • Champswest

    I wonder if Robinson and McGary will make the same decision, or if one will influence the other. Robinson would be the easiest to replace because of our depth at that position.

  • Dustin Stone

    thats just stupid