Freshman point guard Trey Burke will start in Michigan basketball team's opener
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
Michigan basketball coach John Beilein has found his starting point guard.
"We're going to put (freshman) Trey Burke in at the starting point guard (spot)," Beilein said Thursday in advance of Michigan's regular-season opener Friday against Ferris State (7 p.m.). "He really feels good out there.
"He's really a point guard who has really done a great job his whole life of running a team."
Burke came off the bench in Michigan's 47-39 exhibition win over Wayne State last week, totaling seven points, four assists and two rebounds in 28 minutes.
Stu Douglass started at point in the exhibition, but will come off the bench in a sixth-man role, a spot Beilein says he feels the 6-foot-3 senior will be comfortable in.
"Stu took four shots (against Wayne State) and had zero points," Beilein said. "This is the same young man that approached 20 points agains UConn and Ohio State. I know he doesn't mind coming off the bench.
"And he's a shot hunter more than he is a guy that (needs to) run the team."
Beilein said the decision to move Burke into the starting five shouldn't be looked at as a slight to Douglass, but rather an opportunity to further maximize his production.
Douglass has said in the past that he's not a natural point guard, and outside of backup duty, it appears he won't have to completely mold into one.
"I told him at the beginning of practice (earlier this week), I said 'Stu, I've loved the way you've played, but we need some scoring,' " Beilein said. "We just scored 49 points. And I think it's best served we get him at backup point guard and have him start hunting some shots again.
"He's probably going to play as many minutes, he's just not going to be running the team as much as Trey will be at this point."
As for Burke, Beilein said the 5-foot-11, 185-pound freshman has done a nice job of adapting to the speed of the college game.
Burke still has parts of his game to work on. Beilein pointed to general pace and showing the ability to play more under control as areas of concern.
But overall, he's performed beyond his years.
"He's really been able to pick up our offense and defense at a rate similar to some of (our previous) freshmen that have been able to play (early)," Beilein said. "Tim (Hardaway Jr.) did a really good job of this, Evan (Smotrycz) did a good job of this.
"He wouldn't be in that lineup if I didn't see every day that he's ready to do the best he can do."
Horford to remain in lineup over Morgan
Asked if there would be any further changes to the starting five for Friday outside of Burke, Beilein said no.
Meaning that for the second straight game, sophomore forward Jon Horford will earn a start over classmate Jordan Morgan at the five spot.
After starting every game last season, Morgan came off the bench in the Wolverines' exhibition game last week, dropping in two points and grabbing four rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
In his place was Horford, who scored six points and pulled down six rebounds in 17 minutes.
"It's always difficult to make that change to (come off the bench), but he's going to have to do that," Beilein said of Morgan. "He did come off the bench a lot last year because he was in foul trouble a lot.
"Both of them (Horford and Morgan) want the team to win first, and I'm trying to get the right combinations (together)."
More minutes for Brundidge, McLimans?
Prior to last week's exhibition game, Beilein said he hoped to play 10 players, depending on how the game went.
As it turned out, the game was much closer than anticipated, and two of the players in Michigan's top 10 didn't see much action.
Freshman guard Carlton Brundidge played two minutes, while junior forward Blake McLimans did not play.
Heading into the matchup against Ferris State, Beilein says he's hopeful to get more time for both.
But made no promises.
"Both of those guys have played pretty well (in practice), so I would like to do that," he said. "But it's tough. You'd like to get them minutes, but at the same time, I don't want to take the guys who get 30 minutes and put them down to 22 just to get other guys minutes.
"You want people to earn it, and both of those young men, I want to give great chances to."