Incoming freshmen make early impact in summer workouts

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“The first two or three games, they destroyed us,” Hardaway said while recalling his first pick-up games against the incoming freshmen class. “I think they were very excited.”

It’s not often that Tim Hardaway Jr. or Trey Burke, both likely future pros and Michigan’s best players, lose a game of pick-up basketball. One certainly wouldn’t expect a team featuring either player to to get “destroyed” by a group of their own incoming freshmen.

But during open gym sessions featuring Michigan veterans, incoming freshmen and even a handful of recruits, that’s exactly what happened – if only for a short while.

Given the number of summer pick-up games, no one was quite sure of exact teams. Burke and Hardaway played on separate teams, both of which lost to the freshman squad. Burke said he wasn’t sure exactly who played on that winning team, but he was fairly certain it included incoming freshmen Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert.

After hearing himself give the newcomers some very high praise, however, Hardaway had to take a step back.

“I wouldn’t say destroyed, but the games were to 11 and they beat us 11-6, 11-7,” he said. “Then there was one game where me and J-Mo (Jordan Morgan) looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve got to show them what Big Ten basketball is all about,’ and we beat them 11-1, 11-2. So they got their time but it won’t happen again.”

But with the immense talent on this incoming freshmen class, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if it did happen again. The five freshmen – McGary, Robinson, LeVert, Spike Albrecht and Nik Stauskus – have only been in Ann Arbor for a little under three weeks, but already they are making a huge splash.

Michigan’s veterans are already singing their praises.

“This freshmen class is really special,” Burke said. “I don’t think people really know what we’ve got. Mitch down on the block, he can do a lot of things down there. Glenn coming in, jumping [to reach] 11-foot-11 [off of two feet], that’s really impressive. His athleticism says a lot. Mid-range jump shots, finishes, he’s just a great slasher.”

Burke said that Stauskus hit 78 3-pointers in five minutes – nearly a record in one of John Beilein’s most famous shooting drills. According to Hardaway, Stauskus has proved he’s much more than just a pure shooter.

“He can attack the basket as well as anybody I’ve seen coming into college,” Hardaway said of the Canadian wing guard.

As for late add-ons LeVert and Albrecht? Burke echoed the thoughts of many when he said LeVert reminds him of a “small Kevin Durant” who has all the same tools as the Oklahoma City star, with a smaller frame. Hardaway added that both LeVert and Albrecht are “just trying to fill in and find their spots and are doing a great job of being humble and learning.”

Burke and Hardaway, who will both be counted on to fill a leadership role with the departure of senior captains Stu Douglass and Zack Novak, have had no trouble getting along with the newcomers and showing them the ropes. Hardaway and Burke live nearby the freshmen dorms and they often go out to eat together.

But so far, the freshmen seem to be just fine finding their niche both on and off the court without any hand-holding.

“I think coming in they are great students, not only of the game but in the classroom,” Hardaway said. “They are managing their time wisely and no one is making mistakes. It really gets that off the coach’s backs and our backs so we don’t have to worry about them coming in and messing up.”

There’s still over four months until the Wolverines tip off the 2012-13 season, but with the growing chemistry among the freshmen and the veterans, along with the experience of last year’s squad, it’s already shaping up to be a heck of a season to look forward to.

“The sky is the limit,” Hardaway said. “I don’t think we have a limit – we can do so many things with this team. That’s the beauty of it. It’s going to be really fun.”

  • Mattski

    You know what I want? Just to roll over MSU for a couple of games running. Nothing fancy, nobody getting too excited, up by 15-20 with five minutes to go, Beilein yawning and clearing the bench. Subdued but appreciative applause as our stars head for the bench. Some of the fans already starting to trickle out. Izzo not looking like a heart attack is imminent but just. . . resigned.

    • Marvin

      I would go to the ATM right now and withdraw 250 US American dollars for the right to see that happen this year. I’m trying to subdue my excitement regarding this team but it has been bottled up for a very long time. Go blue etc.

  • Steve2081

    So how long before Nik breaks that “3 pointers in 5 minutes” drill?

    • A2JD

      Hopefully, he breaks the in-game record and not against a cupcake.

      • Sood

        If they can discreetly smuggle several racks of balls onto the floor at strategic positions, I feel it’s a distinct possibility.

        • A2JD

          Well, yes. I meant the Michigan record for 3’s in a real game. Does Louis Bullock hold it?

          • bftn

            The fact is that the previous Michigan 3-point (5-minute drill) record was 73, held by Vogrich. So, Stauskas now holds the official record. Not bad for his first try.

          • A2JD

            But what about in an actual game? That was the trivia answer I was looking for, although I was curious about the record holder for the drill as well.

    • GregGoBlue

      tomorrow.

    • who has the record??..

  • troy

    I like Burke, Stauskas, Hardaway, Robinson and McGary as my starting five because Hardaway’s ballhandling wasn’t very good last year and Morgan missed so many shots so close to the basket.

  • Wayman Britt

    I know they are his own teammates, but those are quite impressive quotes from Trey.
    We know we are going to be a good team next year, but we should not get carried away with thinking we can roll over MSU. MSU is going to be a pretty good team next year too.

  • fresh

    i’m curious to see what horford will bring to the table this year…………..the starting line up could be very interesting……..i think it will be hard not to start morgan at the 5 or possibly horford depending…….there is a lot of game experience with morgan even if his production isnt there…..the staff will obviously find the right balance and go from there……..even if the freshmen look good in pracitce and scrimmages, imo you gotta have the combo of veteran and fresh presence……..likely lineup to me which im sure has been said already will be trey, thj, robinson, mitch, and morgan

    • Mattski

      But now when your subs come in you are expecting they can light it up, change the complexion of the game, rather than just holding your breath that you don’t lose ground while the starters get a blow.

  • Anthony Graham

    Morgan will be a man among boys this year, mark my words. He has improve his play every year since joining the team, this year is no different. Michgan opponents will have to pick their poison. Michigan is hungry!! Time to eat fellas!!!!
    Amp Graham