After a humbling 79-69 loss to Duke in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, Michigan's Mitch McGary said the team was frustrated with their performance at Cameron Indoor Stadium after being beaten by an undersized Duke team.
"We're soft," McGary said following the 79-69 loss that wasn't quite as close as the score indicated. "We're soft right now. That's it."
The Wolverines dropped their third game this season and maybe frustration is starting to mount early in the season. They were outrebounded and out hustled by a Duke team that has been rather mediocre on the glass despite the team's star power. Also the disappearance of Glenn Robinson III didn't help matters either. GRIII scored 8 points, looked out of sync, and was a non factor against the Blue Devils. McGary finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds, but most of his damage was done with the outcome decided.
Sharp shooter Nik Stauskas had four points all from the free throw line as Duke concentrated their defensive effort on taking Stauskas out of the game. Sophomore Caris LeVert had 24 points in the losing effort but he showed toughness and heart throughout the night.
The problem is that the team is still looking for the guy to take over games like Trey Burke did last season. Burke was the unquestioned go to guy when the team needed someone to step up. They can't replicate what Burke was but others need to step up.
Stauskas is trying become that guy and LeVert to a certain extent. McGary is still trying to play himself into shape so I'll give him a mulligan. The biggest culprit to the team's 5-3 start might be Robinson. I thought he would be the one to try and take over when the team needed a scoring presence. Instead it looks like he has NBA dreams in his head and is content to take a backseat to Stauskas, LeVert, or McGary in crunch time. If Michigan is to be successful, Robinson needs to take it up a few notches.
"We were rattled and didn't have the same poise we had last year," McGary said.
That's true. While the team is young, they are battle tested and should respond better when the heat is on.
"Rome wasn't built in a day," McGary said.
Rome wasn't built in a day and I look for John Beilein to get this team back on track. It better happen fast because second ranked Arizona is coming to Ann Arbor in two weeks. If the Wolverines can't get it together things could get a little ugly.