- Alden Reiss/Daily
By Daniel Wasserman, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 7, 2012
Trey Burke’s roller-coaster offseason began drawing headlines just weeks after the Michigan basketball team was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament. First came the reports that he would forgo the final three years of college to enter the NBA Draft. After he decided to return for another season in Ann Arbor, the hype machine began swirling around the basketball program. By time fall rolled around, some experts were slating No. 5 Michigan as a Final Four pick and Burke was selected as an Associated Press first-team All-American.
At some point during that tumultuous offseason, the sophomore made what Michigan coach John Beilein called “out-of-character decisions” that Burke “now regrets.” After being suspended for the Wolverines’ exhibition against Northern Michigan, Burke was relieved to finally return to the court in Monday night’s 76-48 exhibition victory over Saginaw Valley State.
After scoring 16 points and dishing out eight assists in just 21 minutes of action, Burke — speaking to the media for the first time since the suspension — expressed his readiness to move past what he referred to as a “situation in the summer.”
He specifically noted how, as a team leader, he handled the situation.
“I obviously apologized about the situation, but we moved on from there,” Burke said. “I know that with being a leader comes responsibility, and I know that I made a mistake, so like I said, I apologized to the team, they all forgave me about it and I told them it won’t happen again. I’m ready to just move forward and continue to lead this team and make sure that doesn’t happen with no one on the team.”
Without Burke in the lineup, freshman point guard Spike Albrecht — who committed to the Wolverines just two days after Burke had reportedly decided to go pro — led what looked to be a well-oiled offensive machine in an 83-47 win over the Wildcats.
In an official statement regarding the suspension, Beilein said Burke had “learned a valuable lesson” and “will grow from this experience.” But for Burke, watching from the bench in a shirt and tie taught him more than just an off-the-court lesson.
“Just watching from the sidelines, I was able to see that from a different perspective,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty hard to guard us this year as long as we make the right play.
“I learned we’ve got options. Last year, the offense was kind of stagnant a lot, and though these are exhibition games … you can just tell that (we have a lot of options).”
With Burke and the rest of the team anxiously awaiting their regular-season opener against Slippery Rock on Friday, Beilein says to look for new wrinkles in Michigan’s offense because of his point guard’s experience.
“We have been experimenting more than we have ever experimented,” Beilein said. “I think that whatever you do, offensively and defensively, when you’ve got a point guard back — we had to take our package down a little bit last year and expand it and then we had to take it down for him, now I think that he understands more.”
Beilein also spoke about having more flexibility to make in-game adjustments with a veteran quarterbacking the offense this year. Burke believes he’ll handle in-game situations more seamlessly, and will instead turn to the role of on-court teacher rather than student.
“I’m able to give out instructions and things to the freshmen that come in,” he said. “Last year, I was kind of running the play to where I was and not trying to mess it up, or asking (former guard Stu Douglass) what the play was, or I might have forgotten the play. This year, it’s kind of natural and I’m able to teach (freshmen) Caris (LeVert) or Spike coming off the bench and tell them what to do.”