For the second year in a row, a member of the maize and blue has been named the year's best player in the Big Ten. However, this time it's Nik Stauskas who has received the award and not Trey Burke. This is the 5th time a Michigan player has been named the winner and the first time in the award's history that a school has won it 2 years in a row with different players.
Over this season, Stauskas averaged 17.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game. Stauskas also shot an impressive 45.8% from outside the arch. On paper, those numbers are great, but not incredible. Stauskas was the 3rd leading scorer in the conference and had the 3rd highest 3PT percentage on the season. However, it was how he achieved those feats that made it so incredible.
Of the top 4 leading candidates for Player of the Year (Gary Harris, Roy Devyn Marble, Terran Petteway, Nik Stauskas), Stauskas attempted the least shots by a wide margin. Just take a quick glance at each player's field goal attempts over the season:
- Harris - 384 (13.7 per game)
- Marble - 403 (13.0 per game)
- Petteway - 398 (13.3 per game)
- Stauskas - 309 (10.7 per game)
It's hard to argue against those numbers. In 9 games against the top half of the conference, Stauskas scored double digits in all but one. Plus, he scored 15+ in 5 games and 20+ in 3 games. This helped lead Michigan to a 15-3 conference record to win the Big Ten title by 3(!!!) games. Also, it's important to remember that he made huge plays down the stretch in both MSU games, the OSU game, and the Wisconsin game. He was more than vital in Michigan's Big Ten title run.
No matter how you slice it, Stauskas had an incredible season. Topping it off with the Big Ten Player of the Year award is certainly a great moment for him. Michigan is surely focused on winning the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, but this is another bright moment for the Wolverines.