There's no question the catalyst for Michigan's success in their first three games was none other than junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Averaging over 17 points per game in three blowout wins, Hardaway Jr. is also pulling down nearly 8 rebounds per contest and even 3 assists so far.
But that isn't all that's impressive.
Hardaway Jr. is in the greatest shape of his life and has the bounce and energy that infiltrates the mindset of his teammates, creating a heightened sense of "mo" or motivation as some call it. For Hardaway Jr., the time off in between last Tuesday's win over Cleveland State and this Wednesday's upcoming game against Pitt could be seen as a rhythm breaker—but the 6'6 junior used the extra practice time and rest time to his benefit.
"I think it was a great time getting a break for your legs and just focus on the team concept," said Hardaway Jr. on Monday. "I think Coach Beilein has done a great job of limiting our minutes and our hours as far as working out. He really emphasizes us getting our rest, so he's done a great job of that; but also coming out in practice and practicing as hard as possible."
Monday and Tuesday will be normal two-day pregame prep before Wednesday's late night action against Pittsburgh in New York. Michigan fans remember the last time the Wolverines were in New York for the NIT (no, not the post season NIT) when Manny Harris, Deshawn Sims and two freshmen from Indiana, Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, shook up the basketball world with an upset win over UCLA in 2008.
Hardaway Jr. wasn't a part of that team. In fact, the son of former NBA point guard Tim Hardaway hasn't even stepped foot in the Big Apple.
Unlike his father.
Hardaway Sr., who averaged nearly 18 points per game and a little over 8 assists per game in his career, spent a significant amount of time playing in New York after spending six seasons with the Miami Heat.
"I've definitely talked to my dad about it," said Hardaway Jr. "Just him in the late nineties playing against New York and that Miami Heat rivalry was very big. That's all I could remember. I don't really remember a lot about him playing at New York, I could only watch."
Hardaway Jr., who's currently on the radar of NBA scouts, was asked if he ever thought about having the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden while watching his father play as a kid.
"I didn't think it was going to be this soon," Hardaway Jr. replied, laughing.
As far as his dad goes—Hardaway Jr.'s father and mother will be in New York for a three-day trip in part so they can spend Thanksgiving with their son.
To watch video of Hardaway Jr. from Monday, press play below.