Nik Stauskas is on the board again with another Big Ten Player of the Week honor for this week. Stauskas was a big contributor in the 3 wins Michigan has had since March began, accounting for 66 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists during the stretch. He was responsible for 21 points against Minnesota, 24 points against Illinois, and 21 more Saturday night against Indiana.
Stauskas has taken the league by storm with his play this year, and has won the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year award. Michigan, behind Stauskas, has locked up a bye in the Big Ten Tournament, and won the Big Ten against Illinois, and are poised at a run in the NCAA tournament. Stausksas is a player that could change the landscape of the game quickly, he is a dead-eye from 3, and improved his game tremendously since he arrived on campus.
Michigan thought they were getting a player that was similar to Mike Miller, or Kyle Korver when Stauskas signed originally, but that has quickly changed in 2 years in Ann Arbor. He added new weapons in his arsenal during the offseason, and has only added to his three-pointer-heavy gameplay. Stauskas can now drive and attack at the rim, which brings him to the free-throw line, resulting in more points per possession.
|Nik Stauskas hits a 3 pointer; Photo Credit USA Today|
Coach John Beilien and his staff should be credited heavily for the development of Stauskas, they got everything they needed out of Stauskas, and then some. His development helped Michigan absorb the blow of losing their top players to the NBA and injury, and helped keep Michigan in the conversation of a Big Ten Championship, and beyond. Stauskas has jumped up enormously, and his work ethic and dedication have shown up big time this season.
No one knows if Stauskas will jump for the NBA or not, but he has made a nice case to the Big Ten voters while playing this season. He was crucial in almost everyone of Michigan’s victories this season, but even more so when the team lost, raising questions to how big of a player was he really for Michigan, and what the team would do if he had a poor game.
He was almost nonexistent against Duke, (4 points) at Nebraska, (6 points) and against Indiana on the road, (6 points) all losses for the Wolverines. That may be a concern when Michigan plays in the NCAA tournament, only because the point total will need to come from someone, and Glenn Robinson III has been on and off this season. Robinson III is talented, but one has to wonder if he and Caris LeVert could truly carry the team when their number is called. They have proven to be key members for the team, but Stauskas has been arguably the biggest.
The Michigan basketball team has a bye in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, as mentioned previously, so that will help save Stauskas’s legs a little bit. He has played in 30 minutes in 26 games this season, and has gone over 40 minutes twice. That is a lot to ask for, even for a young player like Stauskas. He will get a few days to rest his legs, even if he doesn’t feel tired, and get a chance to relax his body until his number is called in the second round of the tournament. He has won his conference’s Player of the Year Award, and now has a chance to make his case for National Player of the Year. If he does that, he will be Michigan’s second straight player to win the award, Trey Burke was last year’s National Player of the Year.