Burke Sees Growth in Team Toughness

Trey Burke reflects upon the Wolverines' victory over Penn state and discusses what the team learned from the blowout defeat at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans. The sophomore floor general shed light on the reasons for Michigan's defensive struggles, the path to improvement moving forward, and much much more.

Trey Burke: “It’s kind of like a process where we come out, and we can’t really match the intensity of the other team, but Penn State… I give them a lot of credit, they played a really good game today, and we did what we needed to do to get the win.”

Question: Was that because of the name on their jersey, being lethargic, or…?

Trey Burke: “No, no, that’s something that we’re seeing continuously. Like I said, that’s something we’re working on. No, we don’t overlook any of our opponents. We knew that Penn State was going to come in and give us their best shot, and that’s what they did. They fought all the way to the 40th minute, and going into halftime I just told the guys, we have to pick up the intensity, execute on offense, and try to get as many stops as possible. Finishing possessions was an issue for us in the first and second half, and I think we did enough on the defensive end just to come away with the win.”

Question: What was the last week like, Trey? After Tuesday leading up to this game, what was it like just after the game?

Trey Burke: “It was a learning week. It was a time of adversity that we needed, coming off the loss.  We learned a lot about ourselves, we learned a lot from the film. I think tonight kind of got us back on track it wasn’t a pretty game, but we came out with the win.  I think we learned a lot from Michigan State, and maybe we wouldn’t have been able to come out with the win tonight if we would have beat Michigan State, so you never know how it would have played out.”

Question: What was the main thing you learned?

Trey Burke: “Just being tough, playing tough, playing with a lot of intensity, and battling. When guys are coming at you, you have to battle back at them, and just toughness, really. I think that’s the biggest thing, the biggest area of growth that we saw in Michigan State’s game, is they were just the tougher team that night.  Like I said, we have a lot of young guys, and we haven’t been used to adversity at all from the beginning the year, we were 16-0 until we lost our first game, so it was kind of – it was definitely something we learned(from) just because adversity we went through.”

Question: What did you take out of this game?  Was that Glenn bounces back a little bit, or that you still have a lot more work to do with the bigs?

Trey Burke: “Both. We have a lot more work to do in a lot of areas. Glenn and Nick are very critical to our offense, and we just have to continue, and do our best job and continue to give them looks, and get them going early on, but as far as the front court, we’ll be fine. It’s just something that we’re continuing to get better at. With Jordan Morgan still not 100%, it’s kind of tough just because Jon and Mitch, they aren’t used to playing the type of minutes that they’re playing.  But they’re more than capable of contributing for us.  We have no doubt, that’s why we continue to go to them, look at them, and just continue to encourage them.”

Question: Does it concern you right now with the way you guys are playing defense?

Trey Burke: “I think we’re all concerned. I don’t think it’s something that’s just out of the water.  It’s definitely an area that we need to grow in and get better at. I think tonight we played pretty good defense, we just didn’t finish possessions. We were getting down to eight seconds, and they’ll miss a shot and get a rebound, and put it back in, or miss a shot, get a rebound, get to the foul line.  So I think it’s just a matter of playing with intensity throughout with whole 35 seconds.  A lot of teams come out, hold the ball because they know how well can get out transition, they know how well we are offensively, so it’s just a matter of finishing possessions and just staying solid on defense.”

Question: Are rotations a bigger issue with just with the way you guys play defense,  because it seemed like a lot of times, one swing pass and a guy’s getting open.

Trey Burke: “That goes back to the intensity and just the level of energy we played with. We all see ourselves on the on film.  You know, film don’t lie, and we’re all doing a great job of really watching film on ourselves and really learning from the film session. Guys will see themselves not get to that open man quick enough, and coach will get on him, or a guy wouldn’t close out right and his guy would get right down into the paint and finish… a guy wouldn’t take a charge.  So it’s all things – it’s nothing that’s rocket science. It’s all things that we can control, and learn from, and get better. With the level that we’ve been getting better at throughout the whole year, I don’t have any doubt that we’ll be fine.”

Question: Why do you think it hasn’t necessarily translated into games yet?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, it’s different types of switching patters, miscommunications. Sometimes we might not talk the way we are. Just continue and try to get people to come out of their shell and things like that, but I think that’s an area that I’m still continuing to grow at, and I feel much being vocal out there on the court, but it’s a team effort, and everyone has to be vocal. The more that we’re vocal, the easier it is to play defense.”

Question: You guys got to the line 27, 28 times today. Was that a goal of yours?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, we watched the film on Michigan State and we saw shot entirely too many jump shots, and once we got Penn State in the bonus, we let that be known to everyone that we’re in the bonus, if the jump shot’s there, take it, if not, try to get in the paint, get fouled, and I think that’s what we did. We did a good job of being fouled and knocking down free throws.”

Question: Has that helped the offense, being able to get easy points like that?

Trey Burke: “Definitely. It helps the offense, it helps the individual players too, you know, I think Glenn got to the line a lot, and that kind of opened up his offensive game, so it’s definitely been efficient when we get to the line.”

Question: Was it good too see Clenn bounce back like he did?

Trey Burke: “Yeah, definitely. Glenn’s a great player, and I had the same type of game last year, as a freshman, sometimes you have those types of nights. It’s something that he’s learned from, I’m sure, and just with the type of athletic player he is, the type of athlete he is, I know that he can contribute any given night. I just try to continue to encourage him, just give him confidence out there. When he’s playing with confidence and not worry about other things, he’s very hard to stop.  He’s not pump-faking, and he has an open shot, and he’s just shooting the ball, he has games like he has tonight, and I just try to continue to remind him of that.”

Question: How much have you taken it upon yourself to get him going?

Trey Burke: “A lot. I know he wants to hear it from the leaders, and we all do a good job… Josh Bartlestein, Tim… just some of the upperclassmen on the team do a good job just encouraging, getting him in the gym after practice, and that’s not really a problem, he’s always in there, but just the more I feel like he’s encouraged, the more he’s confident, the more he feels like he’s involved in the offense, the sky is the limit.  We’ve seen what he’s capable of doing.”

Question: The last couple weeks has it been him kind of learning how teams are playing him differently?

Trey Burke: “Definitely. That’s another thing, every team in the Big Ten is really good. You saw a good Penn State team tonight. They might not have the wins in the Big Ten, but that just goes to show how good this conference is. That’s a really solid team. I think that’s something we’re all learning, especially the freshmen. Teams are giving us different looks. They might come out and deny – you know, face guarding Nik Stauskas, you know, somebody might be in the gap waiting for me to be there, and he might be open, and I think that’s the way they played us tonight.  So it was just a matter of making adjustments, and taking what the defense gives us.”

Question: What do you say or do to help Tim? He’s struggled a couple straight games.

Trey Burke: “Encourage him. He’s old enough to know that you can get 20 on any given night . Wasn’t his best shooting night tonight, but he contributed a lot of different ways, small ways. Rebounding, leadership out there. He was the main voice out there when we huddled up and things like that, so Tim may have some nights like that, but then he may go for 25 the next night, so it’s just a matter of telling him to continue to shoot confidently.  Take the opportunity to shoot open shots.”

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