AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — One day, the speculation is that you’ll be a one-and-done, headed to the NBA Draft as a freshman. You can do no wrong.
But the days pass and so does your brilliance.
People ask, “What’s wrong with this Glenn Robinson III?”
You begin to think you can do nothing right.
Then Robinson found what he’d lost Thursday night in his first NCAA tournament game, and the world suddenly was his oyster once again. He scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half — including 11 in an on-fire stretch of 2:15 — to spark 4-seed Michigan’s 71-56 win over South Dakota State.
“I was in the moment — enjoying it, loving it,” Robinson said. “I’ve been waiting on that — getting a lot of reps and knowing this time would come.”
It just took a while.
Robinson had scored in double figures in only one of the last six games, but tied his season-high in points against the Jackrabbits.
“I was just a little more confident,” he said. “It’s all a mental thing.”
Robinson was 1-for-14 on 3-point attempts in the last 10 games, but made all three he took to match a season high.
“I was feeling it,” Robinson said. “I was open and the shots were going in. The ball felt good coming out of my hand.”
He hit three 3-pointers in less than three minutes, rediscovering that zone that shooters crave, and missed just one of his nine shots — a layup.
“Glenn never left us,” shooting guard Nik Stauskas said. “He’s still confident, and his ability to knock down shots is huge for us.”
But his scoring touch had left town, and Michigan coach John Beilein summed up what it meant to have that back.
“Critical,” Beilein said of Robinson’s scoring spurt. “He did a very phenomenal job of picking and choosing when the shots were there and knocked down the open shots for us.
“He played his tail off tonight. He crashed the boards (six rebounds) when we missed and got us a couple second opportunities to score.
“That’s Glenn Robinson at his best. If he can play like that, which we know he can, then this team could be that much better.”
That’s music to the ears of Wolverines fans — many of them fearing another quick tournament defeat at the hands of a lesser team, like last year’s first-round loss to Ohio.
The competition will get better with each game, but Michigan found out something about itself. It has another gear when Tim Hardaway Jr. and Robinson each score 21 — even on a night Trey Burke doesn’t have it. The Sports Illustrated national player of the year was 2-for-12 from the field and scored only 6 points.
“It was huge for us to have some other guys make some shots,” Robinson said. “Now other teams have to key on other guys — not just Trey Burke. They keyed in on Trey, and they found us and we knocked down our shots.
“We have to learn that we have got to step up and score when he’s not.”