Burke Says UM a Nat'l Title Contender

Michigan PG Trey Burke met with the media today to share his thoughts on a wide array of topics. The sophomore floor general discussed the early performances turned in by Michigan's crop of impressive freshmen, the lessons he learned at Chris Paul's camp, his improved chemistry with Tim Hardaway, and more.

Question: So we heard freshmen got the better of you guys – the veterans – initially. Is that true?

Trey Burke: “They got us probably two out of three games. I don’t think they got the better of us, but they looked real good, though. They came in, they played real good, they’re willing to learn. You know, that’s a good sign for freshmen. We should be really good with their help this year.”

Question: Tim said it was the first time it was five freshmen against five vets and they wonit was like right out of the gate.

Trey Burke: “Well, we’ve played so much over the last two weeks, that I really don’t remember, but I remember there was a couple times they beat us. I think it might have been Mitch, Nik, Glenn, Caris and another freshman. I think the recruits were here. Some recruits were here playing at open gym, and I think they beat us a couple games, but you know, that doesn’t surprise me, because they’re – that’s the type of players they are. They’re really good, you know? They have size, and they know their roles. They can play.”

Question: Talk about the versatility now, with these guys coming in, with what you already had from back then, the kind of combinations you can put on the floor, and the things you can do, with all of these guys you have.

Trey Burke: “Well, it’s really different from last year, because we’re much more versatile. You have Mitch, you know, down on the block, and you know, he can do a lot of special things down there – rebound for us. You know, with Glenn coming in, jumping 11’11”, that’s really impressive, you know, just his athleticism, you know, it says a lot. You get mid-range jump shot, you know, finish, you know he’s just a really good slasher. Nik, just hit, I want to say, 78 threes in five minutes yesterday, which is close to a Michigan record. Caris is 6’5”, he’s built like a small Kevin Durant, and he has all the tools that Kevin Durant has too. He can dribble really good, he can shoot. You know, it just says a lot about all of the freshman. I think this freshmen class is really special. I don’t think a lot of people really know what we have. When the season come, it should show.”

Question: How’s the chemistry?

Trey Burke: “The chemistry’s really good too. The freshmen are right next door to us. Our dorm is right next door to their dorm, so we see them a lot. Sometimes we’ll go out to eat with them, and even before they came, we kept in touch, and I would text them during the summer to see how they were doing and stuff, so, the chemistry is there, it’s definitely there, it’s just we have to get ready, you know, we can’t let all the hype and all the preseason things get to us. We just have to play our game.”

Question: What’s it like without Zack and Stu? I mean, you guys knew this was going to happen, but what’s that been like, to try and – has it been, like, a leadership type thing?

Trey Burke: “It’s been kind of different because Zack – you know, we were reliant on Zack and Stu last year to be the main leaders. Now that they’re gone, I know that I have to step up and be a leader. Tim stepped up already to be a leader, and, you know, Matt Vogrich. We have a lot of good leaders and experience on this team, and that’s not one thing that I’m worried about, but with Zack and Stu gone, it’s definitely going to be different.”

Question: A lot of people are talking about your game this summer at the camps, and how has it evolved? Do you feel like you’ve taken another step?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, I feel like I’ve gotten better, and not just scoring. I feel like I’ve been setting up teammates, you know, whoever I’m on a team with, just making others around me better, and hitting open shots when it’s there, and creating – just making plays for myself and for others.”

Question: When you’re at these camps, put in perspective your profile from two years when you were just the guy nobody knew about, and now you’re considered one of the best 20 college players invited. Is that kind of a little overwhelming to you, or are you excited about it?

Trey Burke: “Not really… well I’m excited about it definitely, but it’s not really overwhelming, because, you know, that doesn’t mean anything. The season isn’t even here yet, and that’s just preseason hype right now, and it’s my job to get in the gym and continue to increase instead of go back a step, and just continue to get better, so it’s not overwhelming, it’s just – it actually motivates me to continue to get better, because, you know, a lot of people get that hype and can’t really live up to it, so my job is just to make other better, to continue to get in the gym, to continue to increase.”

Question: How much attention did you pay to the NBA draft? I know you kind of had those thoughts about it, but did you say ‘well, the way it turned out, I’m really glad I stayed’ or ‘the way it turned out, hey, I could have gone somewhere in there’?

Trey Burke: “Well, I’m definitely glad with my decision. I know that I could develop in a lot of areas in my game. Last year was just – I was just testing the waters and things like that. I was close to leaving, but I felt like it was best for me to come back. I talked it over with my parents, and with the coaches, and I saw a lot of holes in my game that I could increase in, which was making people better, and not just scoring as a point guard. That was really the big thing, just coming back and getting stronger. Not just physically but mentally, you know, just getting better really.”

Question: How happy are you to be here?

Trey Burke: “I’m happy, I’m really happy, because like I said, the freshmen look great, you know, we have a lot of experience coming back – Matt Vogrich, Blake, you know, Max Biefeldt looks good. You know, we have a really good team. Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, everyone looks good out there, and everyone has that chemistry from last year, with the freshmen coming in, so I really think we’re a national championship contender.”

Question: You said that a bunch of times – ‘national championship’. Tim said ‘national championship’. Are you guys ready as a team? Do you feel like you’re ready to handle that?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, definitely. I feel like that because last year, it was really – a lot of people overlooked us. A lot of people didn’t really think we were that good, and us losing to Ohio, I think that gave us some experience, and we know what to do in those types of situations now. That was really the most disappointing time of the year, was losing to Ohio. It was really like a dream, because I just saw us going further than that. Whether it was Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight, so I think next year’s going to be different, because we know what to do in those types of situations. The first round, second round, we know not to overlook those type of games, and I think we’re ready for the challenge.”

Question: Do you think you guys overlooked Ohio?

Trey Burke: “I don’t think we really overlooked them. I just think – I don’t know. A lot of people doubted us. A lot of people had us losing, and you know, I don’t know if that got to us, or what, but our main problem last year was that we came out slow. We came out slow in a lot of games, and you know, I can remember the Arkansas game. We were down 27-8, and we waited until like the second half to really get up, and that’s too late. You know, these are college teams, with pro potential players, and I think that was one of the biggest problems. I’m going to try to get this team to come out with the same intensity that we have in the second half each game.”

Question: So it wasn’t just the Ohio game? There were others that you guys look back on, like Arkansas, Indiana – is that one - ?

Trey Burke: “Indiana, yeah. There were a lot of games that we came out really sluggish. Like Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament. We just came out sluggish, and they just blew us out of the water. It was just too late. And I don’t want to really make – I don’t want to say that’s because we were tired. That may have been a reason for some of the games, but that’s not really an excuse. We need to come out with the same intensity as the second half each game.”

Question: Is that one of the keys for you this year, is to kind of cut back your minutes to get down to the mid-30s? Maybe the low 30s? To try to keep you fresh when you get down to March?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, I think that’s big for me. You know, I love to play, and the 38 minutes isn’t – that’s not a problem of mine. I can play 38 minutes. But I think Coach B just wants me to – some games, if we’re up 12, 14, or, you know, if it’s the first half, seven minutes to go, or I have one foul, or anything like that, I think Coach just wants to sit me out for a couple minutes, give me a breather. I think that’s the big key for everyone. 38, 39 minutes is tough to play each and every game in college. I think he’ll do a good job this year of handling those minutes. You know, if my minutes go down to 33 minutes, 34 minutes, you know, that’s fine with me. That’s still pretty much the whole game, and I can make a big impact for this team.”

Question: When you look at the – you guys played a great game against Minnesota in the first round of the tournament, but those last two, you didn’t shoot it as well as you would have hoped. Do you think youi were tired?

Trey Burke: “Well, in my mind, I didn’t think I was tired. I may have been tired, but…”

Question: Looking back at it, what do you think?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, looking back, I think I was tired, but, you know, when those games were there, and when I was out there, actually warming up, and things, I didn’t think I was tired. I think it might have been my adrenaline, or what, but I wasn’t used to playing an overtime game against Minnesota and then coming back and playing a national championship team like Ohio State, or a national championship contender team like Ohio State, the next day. But just because it was Ohio State, I was ready to play that game, and step up to that challenge, but I think – it may have gotten to me, but I didn’t feel like I was tired out there. That could have been the case.”

Question: Thoughts on Tim at the two?
Trey Burke: “Oh, that would be really good. His ball handling looks good. He’s improved a lot, too. He looked good at the Lebron camp. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t on the same team, but I got to see him play a little bit, and we actually played against him. His team blew my team out one of those games,  but we got them the next game. We got them the next game and beat them twice. He looks good though. He’s shooting the ball really well; he’s attacking the rim strong. His biggest thing was ball handling. He looked like he’s improving in that.”

Question: They said the chemistry between you two is a lot better.

Trey Burke: “Yeah, it is a lot better. You know, I just had to learn him, and he had to learn me. We’ve always been really cool, but this year, it’s just – we took it to another level. We went to the Lebron camp, and we were around each other much more, so the chemistry looks really good between all of us.”

Question: You mentioned your improving pick and roll. Is that an emphasis? Being able to complete that?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, that’s an emphasis, because you know, that’s one of our biggest areas in our offense. We want to pick and roll a lot in the shot clock situation. If it’s down to five or six, I usually get a high pick and roll at the top of the key, so I tried to watch a lot of film this year. I learned a lot  from Chris Paul at his camp this year, in the pick and roll areas. He taught us all a lot at that camp, and I think that was a big improvement in my game, because that’s what we run.”

Question: When you’re in a situation with the best point guards, and the best players in the country, do you feel different that you can elevate to that level when you’re around better players, and you will play better?

Trey Burke: “I definitely feel that way. You know, the Lebron camp, there was a lot of great players around me. Not just from college, from high school. I feel like I can play with some of the best. I feel like that’s the case sometimes when you play a team that may not be as good as you. You can play down to their level. So I definitely feel that’s the case.”

Question: There were some Tweets that you guys were playing at a high level, and then when the Team USA guys walked in, that maybe – the Olympic guys – that maybe things changed. Did you feel that? Could you sense that?

Trey Burke: “Well, we didn’t play in front of Team USA. The high schoolers played in front of Team USA. But when Team USA walked in – well, we walked into the gym and Team USA was already there, watching high schoolers. Once the high schoolers left, Team USA left. It was kind of awkward. I guess they didn’t want to see us play, or I don’t know, maybe it was an NCAA violation or something.”

Question: Did you get to talk to them at all?

Trey Burke: “I got – well, no, not really. There was so many people running up to them and stuff. But when they were in the gym, you know, if I was a player, that would motivate me. That would make me want to play much harder. It wouldn’t intimidate me or anything like that. I know those are guys I could potentially play against in the future, so, yeah, that would motivate me a lot.”

Question: Which camps were you at? What have you done this summer?

Trey Burke: “I went to the Chris Paul camp in Winston Salem, North Carolina, that’s first. Then I went to Deron Williams skills academy in Chicago, Illinois. Then I went to Lebron’s, which is out in Vegas. They’re all – all three were really good experiences. I felt like I learned probably the most at the Chris Paul camp, because it was more instruction. The first two days, they didn’t really let us play a lot. They were teaching us a lot. Then the Deron Williams and Lebron camp, we pretty much played the whole time. It was pretty much like a showcase. But I learned a lot at all three of them; just being around some of the best players, and some of the best teachers in the game, and it was a great experience.”

Question: Were you as good as everybody said you were?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, I think so (laughter). I think so.”

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