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Posted on Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.

Michigan basketball stars Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. say they'll be back; focus on leadership roles

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr., right, is greeted by Jon Horford and Zack Novak as he exits the game after a second-half foul. Hardaway and freshman point guard Trey Burke both said they'd return to Ann Arbor next season and pick up the leadership slack left by graduating senior captains Novak and Stu Douglass.

Melanie Maxwell |

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If there was any lingering doubt whether or not the Michigan basketball program would have its two biggest stars back next season, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke put an end to it Friday night.

Asked if he'd look at the possibility of leaving school early for a shot at the NBA, Hardaway gave a quick retort.

"No, I'm coming back next year," the sophomore wing said after Michigan's 65-60 NCAA Tournament second-round loss to Ohio on Friday. "I'm coming back."

Burke, who earned the co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year award this season and finished the year as the team's leading scorer, was right in step with his teammate.

"I'm definitely coming back," he said. "I'm just going to learn from this loss and get ready for next season."

And when both Hardaway and Burke do return next season, their roles on the club will increase drastically.

Not only will they be asked to shoulder the scoring load, but they'll also be asked to lead.

With the graduation of senior co-captains Zack Novak and Stu Douglass, the one glaring hole the Wolverines will have next season will be the team's unquestioned locker room leadership.


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Novak, who was a Michigan captain for three seasons, asked to take on the role as a sophomore by coach John Beilein. Douglass, meanwhile, accepted the position as a junior and once again teamed with Novak as a senior.

Whether there were ups, downs or in betweens this season, the one constant certainly flowing through the program was that Novak and Douglass ran the locker room.

And had the unquestioned respect of every player inside of it.

Earlier this year, Novak said he spent a great deal of time grooming Burke as an eventual successor to the captain's chair, going as far as saying he believes the team's standout point guard will be a sophomore captain next season.

It's a position he believes Burke, as well as Hardaway and fellow sophomores Evan Smotrycz and Jordan Morgan, are more than ready for.

"There have even been a couple times here toward the end when I'd start to do one of my rants, or whatever, and one of them just tell me 'shut the hell up,' " Novak said. "I liked it. It showed that these guys are taking ownership, and that's what they've got to do.

"That's life, and it's theirs now. It's not ours anymore."

Burke explained throughout the season how his high-level performance had a lot to do with the help and overall comfort provided to him by Novak and Douglass.

A rookie that was fighting for the starting point guard spot in October, Burke ended the year as the team's go-to player — and says he's ready to take his game to the next level.

"Oh yeah, (I'm ready)," Burke said. "Just watching Zack and Stu and picking up certain things from them each and every day in practice allows me to take some of the traits that they had on this team, and some of the impact that they had on this team and put it onto the team next year."

As for Hardaway, the 6-foot-6-inch wing went through an array of ups and downs this past season, struggling to find any consistency from 3-point range, working through the kinks of playing with a new point guard and figuring out how to be a go-to scorer in the Big Ten.

In the end, Hardaway still finished the season with a scoring average of 14.6 points per game and said he learned a great deal about what it takes mentally to excel at this level.

"I'm glad I had this type of season," Hardaway said. "I had a lot of ups and downs, and it really taught me a lot about myself. About my teammates and how they react to me as a teammate, and as family.

"They really cared about how I was playing and really helped me out."

Michigan will have plenty of talent next season, as the Wolverines now expect to return four of their top six scorers.

Burke and Hardaway say they'll be back, and should they change their mind, they'd have to do so by April 10, as reports last month said the NCAA moved up its early entrant deadline into the NBA Draft.

Additionally, Michigan has inked a top 10 recruiting class for next year, a three-man group consisting of five-star power forward Mitch McGary, four-star wing Glenn Robinson III and four-star guard Nik Stauskas.

But the Wolverines won't have Novak or Douglass, their two unquestioned leaders, and the team's collective heartbeat.

The torch is about to be passed, and both Burke and Hardaway say they're ready to take it.

Novak believes they're both ready, and has no doubts they'll be able to run with it.

"I'm sure they'll start Monday or Tuesday," Novak said. "They're going to get after it.

"The foundation's in place, and they can do some good things."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.

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David Kempner

Tue, Mar 20, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Hard to find it ... but I guess there was a silver lining. On the other hand, it's pretty amazing to see (and hear) all the haters out there. Big 10 Champs!


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

I dont see this team being better next year. You loose just about all your 3pt shooters. You think the incoming class is just going to step in, I dont see it. As I said earler one and done for this turney, I see the team finishing no higher than 4th place next year. Just look at the classes MSU,OSU,INDY. This was your chance and you blew it.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

First of all, they don't lose 'all' of their 3 point shooters. Secondly, it might do them some good to concentrate on getting the ball inside more with McGary and Robinson III rather than jacking 3's all day long. This team will not only be fine moving forward, but with the incoming inside presence, they will be even better. Sure OSU, Indiana, and MSU will be strong again and have nice classes, but Michigan will be even better than the team that already shared the B10 title this season and will be more prepared to battle all three of them and make a deep run in the tourney.

Terry Star21

Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

I agree with others that we ere out coached, this was on the coach. Hardaway JR and Burke - with all respect, just where is it that you will not be going to ?


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Mr Hardaway needs to spend a lot of time at the free throw line as well as work on few other things. Good to see the desire and passion is there. This will be the third time around the block for Tim Hardaway, meaning been there but not done yet. I wish him well during the off season. The Michigan basketball program may have ended the season on a bad note but the future is bright. I am on board with others who feel that this team will be much better next season.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Agree with michboy40. Michigan was out-coached. The Ohio coach scouted us pretty well and his defensive strategy worked. Plus all those cuts to the basket and we could not defend. Where were the half-time adjustments? And with 5 minutes to go, Michigan looked scared and rattled.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Well, that just stunk. I'm disappointed that we couldn't come up with a better effort. This one is on the coach. We looked out hustled, confused on both ends of the floor, and just flat.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

If you're out hustled it's not on the coach. It's on lack of hustle (and maybe talent). Not going to the NBA? That's obvious.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

First of all, congratulations on winning a share of the Big 10 Title! Yay!! GO BLUE!! Secondly, what I noticed during the game last night was that there seemed to be somewhat of a "panic" going on towards the end of the game. The defense just wasn't getting the job done, and the offense was not setting up well. With 5 minutes left in the game, and 5 points down, there was plenty of time to just concentrate on setting up the ball. That said, the Bobcat's defensive strategy was pretty good, along with some great acting when they "fell down" to "create" the fouls. Watch the film and learn how to act!! lol Anyway, seeing our guys extreme potential throughout the regular season just gives me goose bumps! Next year Wolverines!! Next year I think you will be great! LOVING MY WOLVERINES, AS ALWAYS...GO BLUE!!!


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

It looks like B-line should take Jabba's lead and clean out some of the dead wait from the program. Maybe he can get Timmy "brick" Hardaway to transfer to EMU.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

Congratulations for an overall excellent season. I was very much entertained. Here is my wish list for next year's team which will have huge potential with the incoming talent. Please, please concentrate on finishing underneath the basket. Too many layups and shots within five feet of the basket just did not go down. Stay focused so that when you get shoved and slapped going up to the basket you can still score. Please, please have more energy and movement on the court than any of your opponents. Consider each game as a tournament game, one loss and out. Please, please protect the ball so that your team will have the lowest turnover rate in the conference and among the nation's best. Please, please be patient shooters and continue to share the ball until someone gets that open shot. Please please keep working on team defense so that no team shoots upwards of 50% against you. and finally Please please learn how to rebound with the likes of Michigan State. With additional size and talent coming into the program I look for a lot of improvement. If the new talent coming in fits well in the team then I can foresee an even more outstanding season next year, another Big Ten championship and perhaps a really deep run in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Go Blue!