Kudos to Josh, our fearless leader, for expanding The Big House Report to include Michigan Basketball. After all, there is much more to the Leaders and Best than football. Fresh off their opening two wins in the B1G, John Beilein (to whom I owe an apology) and the Men’s Basketball team are firing on all cylinders. Michigan deconstructed Northwestern Friday. On Sunday, Iowa opened with 7-0 lead, but Michigan outscored them 95-60 the rest of the way. In a season that finally saw Coach Beilein recruit the players needed to run the hybrid Princeton offense, the team is enjoying the type of success that we are unaccustomed to seeing.
One player stands out as essential to the team’s success: Alfonso Clark Burke. When Trey decided to leave Ann Arbor after last season, I could not blame him. He was head and shoulders above everyone on that team, and having Zack Novak, Stu Douglass, and Evan Smotrycz shoot the team out of so many games had to be very frustrating. Making the right decision, Burke decided to return and has grown into, arguably, the best player in the United States, and a favorite to win the Naismith Award.
With Junior Smooth (thanks, Radford) a.k.a. Tim Hardaway, Jr. improving his ability to put the ball on the floor, and the additions of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson, III, Burke is the straw the stirs the drink at Crisler, and it is absolutely a treat to watch. As I watched him patiently wait to score and dish ten assists, with only one turnover, I thought that the scout who did not think to offer him a scholarship at Ohio is probably kicking himself in his rather dull posterior.
At the Ohio game last year at Crisler, Trey Burke was introduced as, “The Pride of Columbus, Ohio.” In Columbus, every time he touched the ball, the crowd showered him with a chorus of boos. But what the Buckeyes do not know, or possibly, cannot comprehend, is that Thad Matta was confident in Aaron Craft’s ability to lead his team. To be fair, Aaron Craft finishes a Rubik Cube in under one minute and will probably be a very good insurance salesman after this March.
Make no mistake, Trey Burke did not play in some obscure town in Ohio. He was, “Mr. Basketball” in 2011, at Northland High School, in Columbus, OHIO. This was not a case of Hakan Andersson finding Henrik Zetterberg in Njurunda, Sweden. Ohio did not even offer him a scholarship. Thanks, Thad. I know you went to the Final Four last year, but thanks for not recognizing what was RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.