Burke hangs 30 on Minnesota to get another shot at his hometown school
INDIANAPOLIS -- Zack Novak was sitting next to one of the Michigan assistants Friday afternoon and discussing what pregame routine the Wolverines might use for their Big Ten Tournament opener.
"I told him, 'We're gonna do what we always do," Novak said, which seemed reasonable. But the assistant was concerned about this being Trey Burke's first postseason game in a postseason environment, and he wondered whether there was something that could be done to ensure Burke wouldn't look like a freshman when the quarterfinal against Minnesota tipped.
"And I just told him, 'The last person I'm worried about being flustered in this environment is Trey," Novak said. "'He'll be fine. He's a different animal.'"
A badass Wolverine to be exact.
Burke -- clearly not flustered by the environment, Minnesota or anything else -- made 11 of the 14 shots he took here Friday night at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and led Michigan to a 73-69 overtime win over the Gophers that setup a semifinal tilt against Ohio State. And so now some people will spend part of Saturday explaining how this is another opportunity for the Columbus native to prove the Buckeyes were wrong to pass on him out of high school, but that debate should be finished already.
Burke has nothing else to prove.
He's better than any guard on Ohio State's roster -- including the guard the Buckeyes took a year before him (Aaron Craft) and the guard the Buckeyes took instead of him in the Class of 2011 (Shannon Scott), and I type those words as someone who loves Craft, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the year who had 10 points and seven assists in Ohio State's 88-71 victory over Purdue late Friday.
"Trey just does whatever he wants," Novak said.
And what he wants to do now is beat Ohio State for the second time this season -- but not just because that's the hometown school that passed on him. Sure, that matters and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Burke wanted to be a Buckeye but it didn't happen -- partly because of timing, partly because he didn't project to be what he's become. Either way, it's a sting that still stings. But it doesn't appear to consume Burke any longer.
"That is the school I really wanted to go to, but now I'm comfortable in the Maize and Blue," Burke told me. "It doesn't make me feel bad anymore. ... I was disappointed at first. But now I'm in a perfect situation."
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