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Stu Douglass talks current Michigan team, criticism towards college athletes, more (Part 2)

We are back with our second part of a two-part interview with former Michigan basketball player Stu Douglass.

Michigan v Duke Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This is Part 2 of a two-part interview. If you’d like to hear more of his pro career overseas and keeping in touch with former teammates and coaches, click here.

During his four years with the Michigan Wolverines, Stu Douglass was a key contributor who specialized in three-point shooting. He made 205 three-point shots (eighth in program history since 1986, when threes were officially first recorded in college basketball) and attempted 603 three-pointers (fifth). He also helped Michigan get to three NCAA Tournaments, playing in five games.

Funny enough, Douglass didn’t really learn how to knock down a catch-and-shoot three reliably until he got to Michigan, partially thanks to one of his childhood heroes.

“Reggie Miller was my idol growing up,” Douglass said. “So I was more of that guy like shooting shots that were otherwise looked at as tough, like coming off screens. For me, it was more comfortable shooting on the move than it was shooting stand-still. I had to learn how to shoot standstill threes when I got to college, I couldn’t do it. And I actually didn’t get good at it until I graduated.”

Douglass ended up being one of the better three-point shooters in program history, but he’s pretty humble looking back on his time. When asked about the best three-point shooters Michigan has had the last few decades, the Indiana native stayed humble.

“I mean, I was okay. I shot better in the Big Ten. By the time I ended I think I was pretty reliable, especially towards the end of seasons,” Douglass said. “At the top of the list, that’s tough. You got (Nik) Staukas obviously, (Duncan) Robinson. (Matt) Vogrich was a really good three-point shooter. There’s definitely been a lot better shooters that have come after me. It’s cool to have that.”

On Michigan’s current team

Since Douglass hosts two podcasts about the Michigan Wolverines — Go Blue with Stu through The Field of 68 and Men of Ann Arbor with Nik Stauskas through New Amendment— he’s been keeping an eye on this year’s Michigan team, which has had quite the up-and-down season.

“In a nutshell, a lot of talent, just not a lot of experience. And not enough time to kind of learn like the fundamentals of the game, particularly on defense,” Douglass said. “They have a lot of talent offensively. I mean, we’ve seen them score a bunch, they’ve had their ups and downs as of late but they have the capability to put 80 on anybody, which is huge in college basketball.”

Douglass recognizes this is a young Michigan team that has needed freshmen like Dug McDaniel, Jett Howard and Tarris Reed Jr. to do a lot. Speaking from experience, he knows how hard it was to come in and play a role his freshman year.

“So it’s just a tough, tough situation for these guys to be thrown in the fire. They can obviously improve on a lot of things,” Douglass said. “I try to empathize as much as I can, as opposed later because it’s just not easy. I view the game from four years of experience from a college standpoint, and then beyond that, so it’s easy for me to say, ‘Oh, he should have been an help side defense,’ or, ‘You weren’t helping the helper on this situation.’”

As Douglass hinted at there, he sees a lot of miscues with this team on the defensive side, but that’s something that takes some adjusting to in college.

“You got to put yourself in an 18-and-a-half, 19-year-old kid shoes is doing it for the first time and really in their first like, sniff of like big time competition,” Douglass said. “It’s not easy, it takes a lot of time, it takes years to really get there. So you have your issues, but I feel good about where the talent is. That’s not easy to get at the college basketball level.”

Douglass has seen improvement within Michigan first-hand; his sophomore season, the Wolverines only won 15 of 32 regular season games and missed the NCAA Tournament. The following two seasons, thanks to a combination of veteran leadership and talented recruits like Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan won 21 and 24 regular season games, respectively, making the tournament in both the 2010-11 season and the 2011-12 season.

When expanding on improvements as a young player, Douglass mentioned a tweet Dug McDaniel sent out earlier in the season about feeling a lack of support from the fanbase following a bad game. Douglass emphasized the importance of rising above that and striving to get better.

“He’ll learn that that’s really not all that important and that anybody telling him that he sucks is just an idiot,” Douglass said. “Those people you kind of have to laugh at. But that takes time to like learn those things. It takes time to learn how to be accountable for yourself on the court. Some guys just get it right away, but it’s a lot harder.”

Now that Douglass hosts two podcasts, he’s in a position where he has to be critical of current players sometimes. That can be a challenge since he knows what it’s like to walk in the shoes of a college athlete with thousands of eyes on you.

“It’s easy to get yourself lost in that stuff and just try and stay neutral, but show a little empathy to these college kids because it’s wild the amount of scrutiny that these kids go under, and they’re just teenagers mostly,” Douglass said. “We have a hard time every week talking about it because they’re just kids and we knew what that was like in that position, like they’re trying their best. So it’s a funny balance; it’s funny to view that from the outside now after being inside of it for so long.”