Michigan Basketball: Why Nik Stauskas Needs to Start Instead of Matt Vogrich
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There have been no changes to the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines' starting lineup since their second exhibition game earlier this season, but it is time for head coach John Beilein to replace senior shooting guard Matt Vogrich with freshman small forward Nik Stauskas, who has scored at least 10 points in five straight games.
Stauskas has come off of the bench in all of Michigan's regular season games, and for the first few games it was certainly justified, since the former 4-star recruit still had to learn the nuances of Beilein's complex offense.
However, Stauskas' 20-point performance on 6-of-10 shooting, which included knocking down 4-of-7 three-pointers, in Michigan's 79-72 victory over the No. 18 N.C. State Wolfpack proved he belongs on the floor with the Wolverines other starters, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Jordan Morgan and Glenn Robinson III.
"Given today the way Stauskas came off the bench...We all have our superstitions," Beilein told reporters after the N.C. State game on Tuesday night. "When we have a starting lineup, I want to see Matt have some success in there but Nik has adapted so well to it.
"It's something you have to consider down the line...You want minutes."
Not only has Stauskas' own play warranted a spot in Michigan's starting five, Vogrich has not exactly been helping his cause when he's on the floor. Through the Wolverines first six games, Vogrich has a total of 12 points, and eight of those points came in a 100-62 rout of Slippery Rock in the season-opener.
On the other hand, Stauskas has shot 60 percent form the field this season for the Wolverines and has proven to be more than just a pure shooter, though that is his greatest strength.
Should Nik Stauskas replace Matt Vogrich in the starting five?
The Mississauga, Ontario native has shown the ability to attack the basket, finish in traffic, knock down open jumpers from everywhere on the floor and is one of the Wolverines most reliable free-throw shooters (95 percent).
Stauskas is one of the purest shooters in college basketball right now and has already earned the respect of Burke, who is likely going to be taking his talents to the NBA within a year or two.
"That's probably the best shooter I've ever played with," Burke told Nick Baumgardner of AnnArbor.com. "He shoots like a pro. I just got to be honest."
I'm all for Vogrich keeping his starting job against some of the lesser opponents coming up on Michigan's schedule. Vogrich has earned that much for his dedication and hard work through his four years in Ann Arbor.
Once Michigan makes the trip to Brooklyn, N.Y. to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at the Barclays Center in roughly three weeks, though, Stauskas deserves to hear his name called as a member of the Wolverines' starting five.
This would allow Stauskas three games to get acclimated to being on the floor to start the contest instead of coming off of the bench before the Wolverines open Big Ten Conference play against the Northwestern Wildcats on January 3rd.
Whether Beilein switches the roles of Stauskas and Vogrich around or not, thankfully for the Wolverines the 6'6", 190-pounder is mature enough to handle the issue the right way and realizes the decision is not his to make.
"I'm still coming off the bench but at this point it's something I'm fine with," Stauskas told Rod Beard of the Detroit News on Tuesday night. "(Beilein) likes me coming into the game and he gives me the green light to shoot and do what I want. I can't ask for more than that."
Stauskas is right. There's nothing more he can ask for, but he can certainly continue to state his case to Beilein by pouring in shot after shot when the Wolverines face the Bradley Braves on Saturday.
Follow me on Twitter @ZachDirlam_SSN.
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