TJBlog: Kill or be killed ... that's the Illini way this Big Ten season.
Nik Stauskas Adjusting To Big Ten Play
Stauskas success shooting beyond the arc hasn't come as much of a surprise to him, his coaches, or even teammates, who see it on a daily basis in practice -- this is what he's done since he became hooked on the game as a kid.
"I think I really started falling in love with the game when I was eight or nine years old," said Stauskas. "I actually got chosen to play on the Raptors court -- one-on-one with Vince Carter. They had like an open practice."
"I already liked the game but I think after that I was like ‘this is what I want to do'."
Proudly knocking down his first two jump shots against Carter before inevitably bowing out to the NBA star (lol), these days Stauskas continues working to diversify his game, tightening up his dribble-drive opportunities, and bringing the same mentality he possesses on the offensive end to the defensive side of the court.
Stauskas has seen his open looks from the perimeter dip a little bit in Big Ten play -- just 30 three-point attempts in six conference games as opposed to the 69 shots he took from the same distance in 13 non-conference games.
John Beilein and the Michigan coaching staff have taken notice, finding alternative ways to create clean looks.
"Teams in the Big Ten are starting to key on me a little," said Stauskas. "I'm not going to get as many open catch-and-shoot threes, so just running me off a few screens --whether it's with the ball or without the ball -- just kind of freeing me up a little bit."
Defensively, Stauskas continues to get up to speed against competition that changes every single game.
"Nik is improving like crazy with his defense," said Beilein. "When he came in here he had a pretty good situation where he's learned it up to this point, but not like you have to learn it now -- not with the tricks and all of the things you have to do. When he's guarding D.J. Byrd he forgot: D.J. Byrd is him -- he can shoot from deep."
To watch video of Stauska talking to the presss post-Purdue, press play below.
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