Michigan freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr. continues to shine for Wolverines
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com
Tim Hardaway Jr. laid face down on the Crisler Arena court, hand over his head, barely moving. The arena, loud the entire afternoon Saturday, was silent.
The freshman from Miami, Fla., has a dramatic flair to him, but this was different. Michigan’s best player, scoreless to that point, had just been hit with a Kalin Lucas elbow and looked like he might be done.
“He gets knocked in the head in the first half, kind of woozy,” Michigan guard Zack Novak said. “No one knows what’s going on, really.”
Trainers tended to him for a minute. His return was uncertain.
Hardaway sat with Michigan trainer John DoRosario for the remainder of the half, looking at his head to make sure he was okay. By the end of halftime, the freshman was fine.It showed.
Hardaway scored all of his team-high 20 points in the second half during Michigan’s 70-63 win over Michigan State, a combination of long-range shots, mid-range shots, foul shots and layups that Michigan has come to expect from its star freshman.
“He comes in and just give him the old ‘Go make a play, Timmy,’” Novak said. “And he comes through.
Hardaway’s assault on Michigan State in the second half started with a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give Michigan a 38-27 lead. Then he had a two-handed dunk, a jump shot from the free throw line and another 3-pointer, this time from the left wing.
All of a sudden, the guy who had no points in the first half had 10 only six minutes into the second half.
“I’m just getting wide open looks,” Hardaway said. “And my teammates are doing a good job of finding me.
Hardaway is Michigan’s most combustible player. The Wolverines become a livelier and more dynamic team when the 6-foot-5 guard is playing better and exuding emotion on the floor.
It is why Michigan’s players have no problem with him occasionally taking tough, contested shots like he did when he shot a free-throw line jump shot over Lucas. It looked completely off and forced.
It went in.
This is how it has been for Hardaway the second half of the Big Ten season.
“Some of the stuff he does is just unbelievable,” redshirt freshman forward Jordan Morgan said. “He’s a great player and he just gets better and better because he learns from mistakes.”
He has won the past three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards. In the last five games of Michigan’s regular season, he averaged 19.6 points a game.
So Michigan is starting to expect this from him, even when he’s knocked in the head.