Tim Hardaway Jr. started the season doing pretty much everything well, even winning MVP honors at the NIT Tip-Off. Recently, however, Hardaway has been experiencing some of the same trouble he experienced around this time last season. Namely, his shots aren’t falling.
Over Michigan’s past two games, Hardaway has shot just 3-of-13 from long range. However, the junior said that this year, the slump feels less threatening than it did last season.
“I know what’s happening right now, I know how to control it, I know how to take care of it,” Hardaway said. “I’m going to do a great job of getting to the gym, getting shots up, seeing the ball go into the basket, and keep on getting extra reps.”
Michigan coach John Beilein said that he, too, sees a difference in the way Hardaway has been missing shots the past couple of games. Not only that, but all signs are pointing to the issue being moot very soon.
“He’s been on fire the past two days,” Beilein said. “I don’t know if I have a trained eye for it or if I just know him. I know when that shot is missing by inches or when it’s way off. He’s ready to roll.”
One of the main differences between Hardaway’s struggles this season and what he want through during his sophomore campaign is that even when his shots aren’t falling, the talented swingman remains productive in other ways. For example: Hardaway tallied nine rebounds and three assists against Arkansas, and ended up with 14 points despite poor shooting by getting to the line and hitting seven of eight free throws.
In the end, his teammates continue to support him. Trey Burke expressed as much when discussing how to handle Hardaway’s shooting slump.
“I just get him the ball, just continue to feed him. If he misses a shot, sometimes he’ll get down on himself but I just tell him to keep his head up and keep shooting, because we know the next one’s going to go in,” Burke said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to encourage him. He knows what he can do, we all know what he can do. We know his strengths so we can try to play to his strengths and get him in spots where he likes to shoot.”
Trey Burke feeling better prepared for grind of the Big Ten season
Last year, Trey Burke said, he may not have been entirely ready for just how tough and physical the Big Ten basketball season could be.
“Last year, I thought being sore after every game was just the norm,” Burke said. “Once we got to March, it kind of got serious. My body started—I started feeling it even more.”
But this season is different, for one major reason: rest. The reason for that rest? Freshman backup point guard Spike Albrecht.
“We’d have more games where we would go down the stretch and I would play 45 minutes,” Burke said. “So, I think Coach B is doing a great job just getting me rest here and there. Spike’s doing a good job of contributing.”
Albrecht has been spelling Burke for about 5-10 minutes every game (he averages just under eight minutes per contest) and has performed admirably in his stead, with 12 assists and just one turnover on the season.
Having a reliable second option at point guard has made all the difference for Burke so far, and the sophomore is confident Albrecht can keep producing.
“Spike, his IQ is very high, and he knows what he needs to do when he gets out there. He gets open shots for guys, he can hit the open shot and he goes out there with confidence,” Burke said. “We all have confidence when he goes out there. We see what he does every day in practice. It’s just a matter of him going out there and doing what he needs to do for the team.”
Michigan making its second trip to New York in a month, playing at the new Barclays Center
John Beilein said on Friday that the allure of Michigan playing in New York really struck him in 2008 when his team played in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament at Madison Square Garden.
“Ever since our trips to Connecticut and Coaches vs. Cancer in Madison Square Garden, the few times I’ve gone to alumni functions in New York, I can feel the presence of some great alums there,” Beilein said.
When Michigan was given the opportunity to not only play in New York again but to play in the brand-new home of the Brooklyn Nets, the coach jumped at the opportunity.
“When we have the opportunity to go to New York, number one and number two with the adventure or the curiosity of the Barclays Center, and national T.V., and a quality opponent on a Saturday night in Brooklyn, we thought it was too good to pass up.”
The players seem excited to be playing in Brooklyn, with Tim Hardaway Jr. calling the trip “a blessing.”
“I can’t wait to be one of the teams to play in the Barclay’s Center the first season it’s open,” Hardaway said. “I’m just excied to go out there and experience it.”