Skip to content

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

Apr 9, 2013, 6:15 AM EST

BHYll4ECYAA0mD0

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.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Bubble Banter: Davidson with a big win, Stanford in trouble, and … VCU?

    Mar 6, 2015, 1:34 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    All of the bubble winners and losers from Thursday.

  2. Late Night Snacks: North Florida, USC Upstate advance to Atlantic Sun title game

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:23 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    No. 6 Wisconsin is the outright Big Ten champion, and Delaware State’s Kendall Gray went off for 33 points and 30 rebounds.

  3. Draft age limit to be a major issue for NBA, college basketball in near future

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:34 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    With the NBA and NBPA having different views on the limit, college basketball can only wait and see what happens.

  4. Injured Kansas forward’s status will be re-evaluated next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:36 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The only sure thing at this point is that Perry Ellis won’t be on the floor when the Jayhawks visit No. 15 Oklahoma Saturday.

  5. NCAA announces upgrade to its replay and timekeeping systems for men’s and women’s tournaments

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:44 PM EST

    NCAA NCAA

    DVSport will handle the video replay technology, with Precision Timing Systems handling the timekeeping.

  6. Concussion to sideline UNLV freshman guard for Saturday’s regular season finale

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:38 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Patrick McCaw has been one of UNLV’s most consistent players this season, but he’ll have to miss Saturday’s game at San Jose State.

  7. Report: Duke not currently investigating Rasheed Sulaimon

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    This situation seems certain to end up in a mess.

  8. Pregame Shootaround: No. 6 Wisconsin, two other ranked teams hit the road

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:13 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Both Wisconsin and No. 5 Arizona can wrap up outright conference titles with wins Thursday night.

  9. Indiana’s AD backs Tom Crean, calls hot seat speculation ‘ridiculous’

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    I don’t think any Indiana fans are listening at this point.

  10. West Coast Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:31 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    After winning yet another regular season title, Gonzaga looks to win its third consecutive WCC tournament crown.

  11. Film Session: Who can actually beat Kentucky and why

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:05 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    I’ve been asked the question enough. Here are the answers.

  12. CAA Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Marcus Thornton (Getty Images) Marcus Thornton (Getty Images)

    The CAA will be the nations most wide-open conference tournament.

  13. Southern Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

    Mar 5, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Karl Cochran (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Can Wofford reach their second straight NCAA tournament?

  14. Vermont honors hospitalized recruit with #JoshStrong shirts (PHOTOS)

    Mar 5, 2015, 10:57 AM EST

    Vermont Athletics Vermont Athletics

    Josh Speidel is still in the hospital as he deals with a serious brain injury stemming from a car accident last month.

  15. Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle starts five walk-ons on Senior Night

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:51 AM EST

    Wayne Tinkle AP

    The catch: None of them were actually seniors.

  16. Potential NCAA tournament bid thieves bubble teams should be rooting against

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:53 AM EST

    Ryan Boatright (Getty Images) Ryan Boatright (Getty Images)

    These eight teams can steal an automatic bid in conferences that will get at-large bids.

  17. Late Night Snacks: Bubble teams Pittsburgh, LSU and Tulsa suffer home losses

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:22 AM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Neither the Panthers nor the Tigers did themselves any favors Wednesday night, with Pittsburgh’s home loss being the costlier of the two defeats.

  18. Bubble Banter: Why LSU losing is bad news for Texas A&M

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:59 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    All of Wednesday’s relevant bubble info can be found right here.