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Nik Stauskas Wins Michigan's 2nd Straight Big Ten Player of the Year Award

Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas has been named Big Ten Player of the Year.

Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

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)
Out of the top 4 candidates, Stauskas attempted an incredible 75 fewer shots over the course of the season than any of these other players. Just look at the per game averages to get an idea of the impact of that stat. Stauskas connected on 48.9% of his field goal attempts. If he got 3 extra attempts per game, odds are that he's the Big Ten's leading scorer by a decent margin. In fact, Petteway (Big Ten's leading scorer), only averaged 0.6 more points per game than Stauskas. If Stauskas his 1 bucket on those 3 extra attempts (which his numbers say he will easily do), he's the Big Ten's leading scorer.

Along with his scoring, he could also do things in diverse ways. As mentioned above, he was 3rd in the conference in 3PT percentage, but he was head and shoulders above any other player that attempted at least 100 shots from outside the arch this year. Meaning that he had a great deal of balance. He shot pretty often from long range, but was more effective at doing this than anybody else in the conference.

Stauskas also did a great job at the charity stripe. He was 6th in the conference in free throws attempts (164) and shot an impressive 81.1% from the line, which was good enough for 5th best in the conference. He got to the line extremely often, but was also very effective when he did. A big part of him getting to the line was his diverse game that allowed him to attack the hoop. Plus, Michigan coach John Beilein routinely looked to Stauskas to close out the game with free throws. Stauskas was be the targeted player for inbounds plays at the end of regulation. When the coach puts a guy in that position, you know he's a quality guy.

Still, stats are just stats at the end of the day. Sure, Stauskas was incredibly efficient, but what did he do in the big games when it really mattered? Here are the stats for Stauskas against the top half of the Big Ten:

Points Assists Rebounds
@ Nebraska 12 4 3
@ Wisconsin 23 4 4
Iowa 26 5 5
@MSU 19 4 2
Nebraska 9 8 5
@ Iowa 10 0 2
@ OSU 15 0 3
Wisconsin 11 2 3
MSU 25 5 3

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.