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Posted on Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

Michigan basketball team's Tim Hardaway Jr. struggles again; is chemistry the issue?

By Kyle Meinke

EAST LANSING — For all the praise that has been heaped on Trey Burke this season, it's never been more apparent how much this Michigan basketball team needs Tim Hardaway Jr. to play well.

On Sunday, and too often this season, he did not.

The sophomore's slump worsened against rival Michigan State in a 64-54 loss as he went a career-worst 1-of-10 from the field. He was 0-of-3 on 3-pointers and finished with a season-low four points.

His play fueled the Breslin Center crowd, which frequently taunted him with chants of "Daddy's better" and "Not like Daddy." Daddy, former NBA star Tim Hardaway Sr., sat in front of the Izzone, just a couple of rows behind the Michigan bench.

It wasn't just the erratic shooting against the Spartans, either. Hardaway had only one rebound — none on defense — and two assists. He said his shooting ills have not affected other parts of his game, but it's hard not to imagine the two could be correlated.


Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) drives on Michigan State's Draymond Green. Hardaway scored a season-low four points in a 64-54 loss at the Breslin Center on Sunday.

Chris Asadian |

Most disconcerting, though, is this game is not isolated. The sophomore, once expected to be Michigan's go-to player this year after the departure of point guard Darius Morris, has failed to score in double digits six times.

The Wolverines, who are 17-7 overall, are just 2-4 in those games.

Hardaway shot just 30.6 percent in Michigan's seven losses, including an anemic 15.8 percent (6-of-38) on 3-pointers.

The Wolverines' success clearly is tightly tied to the play of their scuffling wing man — as well as Burke, their star point guard who has burst onto the scene this season.

But Hardaway, who shredded defenses last year alongside Morris, said his chemistry with Burke, a true freshman, is coming along "a little more slow(ly)" than he would like.

"But it’s not just me and Trey, it’s the whole entire team," Hardaway added. "The chemistry is there, we just need it to be on a consistent basis. Just try to make a consistent effort.

"(Burke) still is learning where people are on the floor, and he’s just got to keep working at it. We trust him with the ball 100 percent, and he’s making the right plays."

Hardaway wasn't pinning his problems on Burke. He was accountable for his play, and gave a nod to Michigan State's defensive effort against him. However, it's clear he's not entirely comfortable with Burke.

Burke, for his part, said "we're cool on the court," but added that his chemistry is "sometimes" off with Hardaway.

"But we're going to have each other's back," Burke added. "He’s our best player, we know that. If he’s not hitting, we’re going to have to win it on the defensive side."

When asked how the Spartans were so effective in shutting down Hardaway, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo first credited the job done by Branden Dawson and Brandon Wood.

Then, in the next breath, he jumped right to Burke.

"What we did was we shut down Burke’s penetration a little bit, and their overall penetration, and that’s how Hardaway gets shots," Izzo said. "So, it wasn’t just shutting down Hardaway, it was shutting down how Hardaway gets shots.

"I don’t think he got into the rhythm he normally gets in because of how they run things."

As Hardaway's misses piled up, Wood noticed a change in his counterpart's body language.

He became more passive.

"He wasn’t as aggressive as I thought he would be," Wood said. "But when we have six eyes watching him and Burke at all times, and he’s seeing someone on help side, it’s hard to drive and create your own shot."

Hardaway had a similar defeated body language after the game. As the media entered Michigan's locker room, he was slumped in his locker, scowling, mouthpiece still in as assistant coach LaVall Jordan whispered in his ear.

First question: Did you ever feel like you were in sync, offensively?

“I can’t even answer that question,” Hardaway replied. “They came out with a good game plan and executed it.”

Later: Are you starting to feel the pressure as the misses mount?

"Yeah, you feel the pressure add (up)," he said. "It all depends on whether you want to take it on."

Then I asked him if he's identified what's wrong with his shot right now.

“It’s just not going in,” he fired back. “The ball isn’t going in the basket. It’s point blank. And there’s nothing else to talk about. It’s just not going in.”

What can you do to fight that?

"Just keep shooting open shots," he said. "I felt some of the shots I took were good, and some people disagree. ... Just trying to knock one down, and, unfortunately, it didn’t happen today."

Michigan needs him to hit, and it needs him to get on the same page as Burke.

Or, there's going to be more days like this one.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

I do not think chemistry is the reason. I think the shootitg woes are from waiting too deep into the shot clock. I think they wait too long to shot. Too often, if they don't shoot within 7 seconds, they decide to go late into the shot clock and the offense gets too predictable late in the clock. I think the dribble drive and kick is a viable option, it helps if everyone is hititng (Zach, Stu, Evan, Tim Trey and Matt) Making shots in Beilin's offense creates the spacing. If one guy is not making shots it is a lot easier to help off that player. I think Tim needs to score going to the hole once or twice to get his confindence going each game, then he can run that corner fade play (like he hit to bury Purdue on). If Tim and Trey can create offense off the dribble penetration, all of the shooters will benefit. A few weeks back (after Michigan pounded them) Wisconsin was shooting horribly. Michigan could benefit from this as well. If they sped things up offensivley and shot quicker (sooner?) in the shot clock and things starting coming "in rthymn " for their shooters instead of being "forced." A few less high ball screens and a bunch more penetrating and kicking could make the difference for everyone (not just Timmy).


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Usually Hardaway takes more shots in a game than any other player so Burke is getting the ball to him. Part of the problem may be shot selection with Hardaway taking poor shots instead of passing the ball. I doubt that fatigue is a problem as others on the team are playing similar minutes and are performing better. Remember, these guys love basketball and even in the off seasons will get together to play pickup games. I wonder if Beilein has arranged for Hardaway to see a sports psychologist.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Dear little Sister's, There is a really simple reason why UM has an average basketball program and MSU is elite. Where Izzo has built a program on TOUGHNESS and DEFENSE. Beilein is trying to build a program on FLOPPING and LAUNCHING PRAYER"S FROM HALF COURT.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Really? Michigan has won 3 out of the last 4 against Michigan St. How does that make Michigan a little sister? Flopping...Oh do you mean like Green did when a player who weighs 45 lbs less barely touches him.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Does it make you feel better to get that off your chest? Now, go back to the football office, coach Dantonio, and start figuring out ways that your football team can twist and turn Denard's head next year.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Let the whining begin.Streaks over LITTLE Blues.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

15crown: This is a michigan board where we are talking about Michigan players and team. Not about your team. In fact, Hardaway's struggles have nothing to do with MSU, OSU, or anybody. If you have something productive to add, I'm waiting to hear it.

Ken Boyd

Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

More like three out of ten.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

I'll take 3 of 4 any day of the week, thanks.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

This team has clearly not found a rhythm in its offense for whatever reason. It seems really helter skelter at times, other than the occasional back-door play to Morgan or Douglas. The team probably hasn't transitioned completely yet from the Darius Morris-run offense and the Trey Burke one. Although this article focuses on Hardaway, another player is going through a big sophomore slump too - Smotrycz. He's been awful in this stretch too. I'm amazed we've won as many games as we have honestly.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

The fact is if a player repeatedly can't produce, there is a bench full of players that may be able. But he has to be pulled when he doing so poorly so others can help give the team a better chance to win.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.

This team is not that good to begin with and if the offense sputters then it is all over.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

Is Hardaway just tired from playing that summer program and having no true rest from bball in almost a year and a half? Could it just be that he has lost his legs?


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 3:39 a.m.

I SAID this last week.Coach B is a Nice and Good Coach.And he will always win a few games,but never alot,unless at home.I'm suprised he took Hardaway anyway.He told me when he was at WVU he deosn't like or want Mac Donald All Americans.He thinks there like Divas,he can't stand the Drama that comes with them.He's Old School all the way,with the entire team,not one of 2 guys.But he has and will keep doing a Good Job.Just don't let those Sugar Plums Dance in your Head very long.


Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

He had WVU going to the Final Four.Had Lousiville by 25 points and lost the game.He just can't win the Big Games.Always seems to come up short for whatever reason.But he is Great Person,and a Very Good Coach.He just can't get his teams over the Hump.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Coach B actually has 2 top 35 guys coming in next year and another in the top 100. And Beilien won 27 games in 2006-2007. Do you not think that is a lot? He won 24 games in 2004-2005 and made it to the Elite 8.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Hey, he got you guys in the Big Boy Tournament. Isn't that good enough? Must be because his contract was extended last year.


Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 2:38 a.m.

I think "Overrated" is the issue.