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Michigan handles Saginaw Valley State in Burke’s return

By Colleen Thomas, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 5, 2012

If there were any concerns about Trey Burke after he missed last Thursday’s exhibition game against Northern Michigan, they’re all gone now.

With less than six minutes to play in the first half of Monday night’s game, the sophomore point guard dished the ball to senior guard Matt Vogrich with a smooth, no-look pass for an easy layup in transition. Just a few seconds later, Burke found freshman forward Glenn Robinson III for another transition layup — no rust there.

Burke’s 16-point, eight-assist performance helped the No. 5 Michigan men’s basketball team to a 76-48 victory over Saginaw Valley State in its last exhibition game before its season gets underway against Slippery Rock on Friday.

Burke, who averaged 36 minutes per game in his freshman campaign, was suspended for Michigan’s first exhibition for a violation of team rules that he said happened over the summer, but he returned Monday and saw 21 minutes of action.

“I felt comfortable (coming back),” Burke said. “After the first couple minutes, my teammates helped me get comfortable before the game. Plus, I got out there and got a feel for the game — I was fine.”

Burke also had no problem handing over the reins of the offense to Spike Albrecht, his freshman counterpart who started last Thursday. Albrecht made his impression with 16 points and six assists in his first career start, but was a bit more silent in Monday’s exhibition — the Crown Point, Ind. native tallied just two points and an assist while playing a significant chunk of the second half.

And just like Thursday, the Wolverines relied on offense from the rest of the freshman class. The rookies totaled 33 of Michigan’s 76 total points, with Robinson leading the team with 17. Robinson notched the first four points of the game to put Michigan ahead for good and provided excitement to the mostly silent crowd by finishing an alley-oop from junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. in the second half.

Freshman forward Mitch McGary, who seemed to be recovering fine from a knee injury that limited his action Thursday night, was just as emotional on the court as he was in the exhibition opener. The Chesterton, Ind. native excited the crowd with an emphatic block and a dunk halfway through the second half. McGary finished with six points and 10 rebounds, but got in foul trouble in the first half with three fouls.

Aside from the knee troubles, Beilein is concerned about McGary’s shape — he wants to see McGary lose a few pounds and increase his stamina.

“With the media timeouts, he really can push himself,” Beilein said. “(He has) to understand, ‘I can play hard, I can play through these things.’ He’s getting in better shape — game shape is different from all the sprints we run.”

Aside from the rookies and Burke, the rest of the squad was silent Monday night. Hardaway scored his first points of the game with 2:32 left in the first half and finished with just five points and six assists in his 26 minutes of play. Redshirt junior forward Jordan Morgan finished with seven points and seven rebounds and Vogrich contributed eight points.

Despite the lack of scoring from Michigan’s veterans, offense wasn’t a problem for the Wolverines. The game wasn’t even close after Michigan took the lead for good three minutes in, which Burke attributed to the team’s talent after adding a top-10 recruiting class.

“We have options, a lot of options this year,” Burke said. “Last year, our offense was kind of stagnant, and though these are exhibition games, you can tell that (we have options).”

Some of those options are freshmen Nik Stauskas, known for his shooting abilities, and McGary, who will be a presence on the boards, giving Michigan extra possessions. And then there’s Vogrich and Hardaway, who can shoot the ball when needed, but are also able to make that extra pass to find the open man.

“It’s going to be pretty hard to guard us this year as long as we make the right play and make adjustments.”