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Title game loss shouldn’t cloud Trey Burke’s amazing college career

Apr 9, 2013, 6:15 AM EDT


ATLANTA — Trey Burke is leaving Atlanta with plenty of hardware.

The uber-talented Michigan point guard won every Player of the Year award that you can win, receiving trophy after trophy, posing for photo-opp after photo-opp, going from press conference to press conference to talk about the season that he had over the last five months.

And what a season it was.

Burke averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 assists. His efficiency numbers were superb despite being responsible for handling the ball on seemingly every one of Michigan’s possessions over the course of the season. He was the focal point of every defensive scheme, somehow managing to remain the engine that made the nation’s best offense run. He led a team full of freshmen to the national title game.

But there was only one piece of hardware that Burke wanted. And thanks to an 82-76 loss to Louisville in the national title game, he didn’t get it.

“It hurts a lot,” Burke said after the game. “Just to play for the national championship, it hurts so much.”

“You know we fought.”

Yes, we do.

MORE: Photos from Monday night

Burke, quite literally, left it all on the floor. He drove headlong into the lane and got knocked to the floor twice in the final minutes, spending every second he could milking the landing as he tried to catch his wind. After one possession where he went one-on-one against Russ Smith, trying to once again single-handedly lead Michigan back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit, he drew a foul and stepped to the line, grabbing his shorts as his chest heaved.

“There was never a point in time where we gave up,” he said.

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In all likelihood, this was the last time that we’ll ever see Burke suit up for the Wolverines. He was all-but out the door last season before a change of heart led him back to campus. You don’t think that, after a season where he’s the consensus Player of the Year and almost a lock for the lottery, he’ll be declaring for the draft?

And there-in lies the shame of it all.

MORE: Now this was a game for the ages

 Not that Burke is going pro. I think he’s making the right decision. As the saying goes, strike while the iron is hot, and Burke’s iron will never be hotter than it is right now.

The shame is that the lasting memory that most will have of Burke is with his head down, slowing walking off the court as the Cardinals celebrate, streamers and confetti bursting from the Georgia Dome rafters.

Not me.

The memory of Trey Burke that will always stick with me will be late in the first half, after Spike Albrecht had just beaten Louisville off of a high-ball screen, getting to the rim and finishing a layup over Gorgui Dieng for his 17th point of the game. That shot put the Wolverines up 33-21, their biggest lead of the game. Albrecht, the seldom-used back-up point guard who finished with a grand total of 24 points in all of Big Ten play, came sprinting back to the sideline, as fired up as you’ll ever see a basketball player.

MORE: Luke Hancock was the most touching story of the Final Four

The first person to meet him, sprinting out to midcourt, was Burke.

Because when Burke was recruited to Michigan, he was that guy. He was supposed to be the seldom-used back-up to Darius Morris, the guy that paid his dues for a couple of years before getting a shot to beat out the next John Beilein point guard recruit for a chance at a starting job. But Morris went pro earlier than expected, and Burke was suddenly forced into the starting job, where he thrived.

Where he grew into an all-Big Ten talent as a freshman and the Player of the Year and a lottery pick as a sophomore, all as a kid that had originally committed to Penn State.

That ascent into greatness is how I’ll remember Trey Burke.

And I hope you will as well.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. titansbro - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    This article makes me want to puke. This kid hit the floor on every drive last night because he was trying to draw fouls, not because he was getting hit. Then he layed on the floor milking it. It’s an epidemic in basketball right now. Too many players would rather shoot free throws instead of actually playing the game. Fouls are just way too soft these days.

    • barnesaintnoble - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      He was on the floor because he’s a 6’0″ PG getting in the lane against guys who have 10 inches on him. You have to extend your body, cover some ground off your jump and hang in the air to get a good look, and that means that sometimes you don’t land on your feet. I doubt you would keep playing if you fell ONCE like he did last night. Then again, I imagine you are probably 5’5″, overweight and probably don’t even play basketball or any sports for that matter. The only thing that’s soft is your empty brain.

    • johnelwayishorsefaced - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      titansbro you’re absolutely correct. I especially loved the time he pulled the Michael Jordan move and stayed down on the floor for an extra long time so it would look all the more impressive when he got back up and continued to play. Burke had a great college career but there where plenty of times where he basically disappeared when the game was on the line. He will be an average NBA player for a few seasons at best.

  2. mtheparrothead - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Yeah. Stupid kid putting it all on the line and face planting into the floor.

    You’ve obviously never played basketball, or played sports for that matter. Dudes a gamer.

  3. rizza32 - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:44 AM

    Shut up Your a douche. He played his ass off

  4. jrs45 - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    He’s an Ohio Man!

  5. jjones314 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    Burke balled…”titanbro” lives at home in his mom’s basement, broke, no job and haven’t touched a woman in years. Stfu


  6. rmfields - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I never watched a Michigan game all year until last night. Burke is incredible. It’s a shame he had to sit out 12 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. And titansbro, what game were you watching? Burke was driving hard at the end of the game nearly every possession. He was getting battered and bruised (and still converted some of those for potential three point plays). He’s definitely going to make some team happy in this year’s NBA draft.

    • rmfields - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      For as much as I was impressed by Burke, I have to say, Peyton Siva of Louisville also had a spectacular game. I think the marquee play was when Burke had a clean block of Siva’s breakaway dunk but was called for a foul. Replays showed it was a clean block. Either way, both teams had amazing backcourt play last night.

  7. mblue24 - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Great guy, classy all the way, will make some good cash in the nba.

    • bandjammer - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      He’s going to get killed in the NBA. Look what he did last night. All over the floor having to get picked up by team mates. He won’t last more than a couple of years. He couldn’t solve Louisville’s defense.

  8. sailbum7 - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    The shame is that this kid is not going to finish school and get a degree. What happens if he gets hurt early in his NBA career and can not come back?!?! What will he have to fall back on?!?! College basketball is nothing more than a farm system for the pros. I do not know why they try and continue this myth that the NCAA is about student athletes. The NCAA runs a farm system for the pro leagues, it is time they admitted that and dropped the pretense. Let these kids make some money while they are playing and end the nonsense that it is amateur athletics. Either that or change the system. Start taking away scholarships from programs that fail to meet certain goals for graduating their athletes. How many kids are there that played college sports and never finished their degrees because their eligiblity, and therefor their scholarship, ended before they finished their coursework and they could not afford to stay and finish school. And the pro leagues need to cooperate. They need to stop recruiting kids that have not finished school. After all, what kid is going to stay and finish their degree when a pro team is waiving a million dollar contract in front of them. If there are not going to be changes than the NCAA needs to drop the pretense and admit what they really are, a development league for the pros.

    • bandjammer - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:23 AM

      No pay for college players. They can go to Europe if they want that and skip college. The NCAA is not a development league. Most players do not go on to the NBA. It’s less than 1%. Most kids play ball to get a free education. It would be totally unfair to anyone else going to college to pay the sports people. How about discounting student loans for everyone going to college from the millions being made on sports.

      • barnesaintnoble - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        You both make valid points. A college education isn’t what it used to be. Most colleges are run like businesses now. Get students in, keep tuition prices rising and get them out. Keep collecting that money from lenders and let your “alumni” worry about paying those student loans back. They need to require colleges have a system in place that when a player leaves for the professional ranks, they can still come back in the off-season or after career ending injury and get their degree under the terms of that scholarship. Maybe even requiring schools to also offer graduate scholarships to athletes who graduate and meet a certain GPA criteria. If you aren’t going to pay the players, at least give them every opportunity to be competitive in the professional world and get paid. The NCAA IS a development league, they won’t admit it though. NBA team can see a player play in a college “professional” environment and evaluate what kind of pro he will be. It’s hard and risky to evaluate and commit a contract to a player out of high school. Same with the NFL, only they make you stay in college longer.

  9. bandjammer - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Peyton Siva was the impressive player and should go to the NBA. Hancock could go even though he is only a sophomore. No one else on the floor is ready for the brutal nature of the NBA. Imagine these guys trying to guard LeBron or Koby. Not even close!

  10. justlife4me - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Luke was pretty awesome, well done!! I guess he won’t be f going to be bench anymore! Found Luke’s pretty Girl Kaycee here lovely couple!!!

  11. coryfor3 - Apr 9, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    How about a great year? An impressive career indicates that you have some impressive accomplishments over a significant period of time. He’s played 2 years and was a good player last year. He was a great player this year. So an amazing year? Yes. Amazing career? Um…not really.

  12. barkleyblows - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    Overrated by a ton!!!!!!! Has he ever won anything? No. Most overrated player I have seen in a looooong time!! The guy gets shut down by average defenders and gets man handled by good defenders.

  13. coryfor3 - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    Oh and by the way, no one “quite literally” leaves it all out on the floor. Look up how the term is supposed to be used. Seriously. Can no journalist do that? Burke didn’t “literally” leave anything on the floor that I’m aware of.

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