December 18, 2013
Merritt assesses McGary, Robinson
Former U-M captain David Merritt watched carefully Michigan's run to the national title game last year. Today he weighs in on a couple of key components that returned to the Michigan lineup.
Merritt, along with the rest of the nation, knows how good sophomore forward Mitch McGary looked in the NCAA Tournament. But Merritt has a bit of extra insight on how McGary carried that effort into the summer, until a back ailment shut him down for three months.
Merritt isn't surprised McGary has taken some time to begin getting back up to speed.
"Especially when you're dealing with the back," Merritt said. "The back is definitely nothing to play with. I'm sure they took extra caution. That's something that can affect your basketball career forever. They sat him out and he didn't practice a lot."
"Now, you have a situation where he's trying to work himself back in, but he's live on national TV, instead of having a lot of practice time.
"Word was that Mitch McGary in the summer was just absolutely phenomenal. He was playing at an extremely high level. To have that injury definitely impacted his growth. But even last year, it took him a while to work himself into that type of shape."
Meanwhile, Glenn Robinson III played his best game of the season in the two-point loss to Arizona. Robinson hit all seven of his shots in a 16-point first half, then wound up with 20 on the game.
Robinson has drawn some unwanted spotlight for not being forceful enough in the offense, and Merritt underscored what it means for the Wolverines when the sophomore is performing at a high level.
"He definitely has a laid-back demeanor," Merritt said. "He's very cool, calm and collected. That's sort of a disadvantage for him at times, because he seems to have that aura on the court. But when he is aggressive, you can see how much talent he has.
"Seven-for-seven in the first half against Arizona. He was knocking down shots, taking the ball to the hoop. When he's aggressive, you see why everyone is in love with his talent, ability and athleticism. It's something he has to consistently get better at, showing more emotion.
"He has to go into games saying 'I'm going to be really aggressive.' They're a much better team when he's an option, when he's a part of the offense, on the fast break and getting involved."
It's a different offense without Trey Burke running it, Merritt pointed out.
"There is definitely an adjustment period for everyone," he said. "There's not a guy with the ball in his hands most of the time, working the offense and getting people shots. They're going to have to find other ways to make things happen, whether it's getting on the glass or slashing to the hoop.
"Glenn is going to have to find ways to stay involved, and the coaching staff and team are going to have to encourage him to be aggressive. Michigan is a much better team when he has that mentality."
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