Michigan's Trey Burke easily leads the B1G in assists, on early pace to break Darius Morris' record
ANN ARBOR -- When Trey Burke announced he was returning to Michigan for his sophomore season, he cited two main reasons.
First, he wanted to compete for a national championship. Second, he had areas of his game that needed improvement before embarking on a career in the NBA.
In short: He knew he'd be surrounded by more talent, and partly because of that, he knew he'd be able to turn perceived deficiencies into strengths. And so far, that's been exactly the case for Michigan's All-American point guard.
Currently, Burke leads the Big Ten in assists, and it's not really close. The Michigan floor leader has 58 helpers in eight games, 19 more than the next closest player (Indiana freshman Yogi Ferrell).
That number also ranks him No. 3 overall nationally.
"I don't ever really look for my offense, I just play off what the defense gives us," Burke said earlier this week. "We don't really force shots. If a guy is (hot), we're going to go to him.
"The offense talks for itself."
This is somewhat of a contrast to the player Burke turned into for most of last season.
More often than not, Burke was the best player on the floor for the Wolverines, and he was almost always the team's top scoring option. So, at times, he became forceful and somewhat turnover-happy.
But this season, Burke has more players around him -- in addition to Tim Hardaway Jr. -- that can create their own shot. Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III, to name a pair.
Burke has had two rough games, from a turnover standpoint, so far this season. He had 5 turnovers during a 38-point win over Slippery Rock, and 5 turnovers during a 14-point win over Kansas State.
But outside of that, he's been just as terrific as Michigan hoped he'd be from a distribution standpoint this season.
Burke has 23 assists against 2 turnovers in Michigan's last three wins against North Carolina State, Bradley and Western Michigan. And, more than that, he's right on pace with former Wolverine Darius Morris' record-breaking assist season of 2010-11.
Through eight games that year, Morris dished out 60 assists. Burke's at 58.
Burke obviously has a long way to go to catch Morris -- a current point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers -- who handed out 235 assists in 35 games two years ago.
But, if Michigan can manage to play 35 tilts this year (the regular season features 30 games), Burke's current pace would give him 253 assists -- beating Morris' record with ease.
"He understands when we need him to do more," Michigan coach John Beilein said, "and when he need him to just find all these shooters."
For now, though, Michigan isn't too worried about any records.
The Wolverines are more concerned with wins -- an so far, Burke is delivering plenty.