Michigan Basketball: How Have Injuries Affected Wolverines' Poor 2013-14 Start

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Michigan Basketball: How Have Injuries Affected Wolverines' Poor 2013-14 Start
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines entered the 2013-14 season with a ton of promise and potential.

When sophomore power forward Mitch McGary decided to return to Ann Arbor instead of entering the 2013 NBA draft, almost everyone listed him as a preseason All-American.

Multitalented sophomore wings Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas were ready to run and gun with the best in the nation.

After advancing all the way to last year's NCAA championship game, John Beilein's bunch started this year as the AP No. 7 team in the country.

But, the injury bug bit Michigan before the season even started.

McGary was unable to practice or play until the third game of the season because of a nagging lower-back condition. Since his return, the 6'10" enforcer has had his ups and downs, registering two double-doubles and four unexceptional outings.

About the time McGary had most of the rust knocked off of his robust game, Stauskas sprained his ankle at the Puerto Rico Tip Off. With their leading scorer at less than full speed, the Wolverines lost the tournament title game to Charlotte.

Beilein held Stauskas out of their next game against Coppin State. The 6'6" guard returned to the Michigan lineup against Duke. Though he told (Insider subscription required) ESPN's Jeff Goodman that he was 100 percent, he was largely ineffective against the Blue Devils, recording a season-low four points in Durham.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

This unfortunate stretch has resulted in Michigan going 3-3 in its last six games.

One of the best decisions that Beilein could make to help Stauskas' recovery is to keep him out of the next few days of practice and possibly sit him for the Wolverines' next game against Houston Baptist.

Depending on the severity of the sprain, it is not out of the question for Stauskas to be dealing with diminished push and lift for days or weeks to come. He might be able to play, but this injury could still impact every aspect of his game.

The other negative about Stauskas being on the mend is that this will postpone the Michigan's ability to begin to jell as a team. The Wolverines have not been able to invest any significant time to develop the type of on-court chemistry necessary for a serious title run in the Big Ten or beyond.

All of this instability has not helped Glenn Robinson III get going in his second season on campus. His early stats (11.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG) are almost identical to his freshman numbers. He has not looked like a player on the verge of a breakout season as was expected. Instead, he has appeared to be tentative and hesitant.

 

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Looking Ahead

Michigan plays Arizona at home on Dec. 14. If it can get healthy before then, this game will provide a good gauge for Beilein to see where his team is against one of the best teams in the nation.

If not, the Wolverines may still be striving for stability up until they begin their Big Ten slate on the road on Jan. 2 against Minnesota.

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