Notebook: Tim Hardaway Jr. working through shooting slump

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Michigan 80, Arkansas 67 - #26

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.”

  • Wayman Britt

    Another difference between Tim’s slump this year versus last, is that this year we have so many more weapons it doesn’t effect the team as much.

    I bet his shot comes back soon.

  • DeepBlue83

    Thing is, you don’t really “work through” a shooting slump. You’re either having it or you’re not, and wanting or hoping or expecting the shots to “start falling” has absolutely no effect on the flight of the ball.

    The truth may simply be that Hardaway at his core is just not a great outside shooter, and that his little spurt at the start of this season was the anomaly. Unfortunate, if true. It’s going to be tough to win really big games with him going 3-11 from the floor.

    • jon

      I actually couldn’t disagree with you more. (not about whether hardaway is a good outside shooter, but about whether you can work through a slump). Slumps are largely psychological. When you are not shooting well, you lose confidence and it further exasperates the problem. You start thinking about your hand position, your follow through, your jump. This means you are getting away from the form you’ve developed over 10+ years of playing. Confidence won’t magically change the flight of the ball while it is in the air. But it will allow tim to get back to his natural, non-conscientious stroke. Getting work in during practice will definitely help. He also needs to attack the basket more and get to the free throw line.

      • jon

        ***exacerbates the problem

      • DeepBlue83

        How many shots do you think Hardaway takes in practice every day? Hundreds? How will hundreds more make a difference?

        And no, when you get a feed for an open jump shot in a game, you don’t stop to think “is my hand position ok?” “Am I jumping high enough?” You just do it. And it’s by no means a given that his “natural” stroke is that of a good outside shooter.

        • Mattski

          I always heard people say his from was great. Went and looked because your saying it wasn’t surprised me. Found this comment from midnightmaize:

          “His form is a thing of beauty from a purest stand point. Some people wonder if its a mechanical issue with his struggles this year but from what I can see its not.”

          Also Beilein is quoted in todays Freep as saying he’s just missing by a little compared to last year’s slump. FWIW.

          • Mattski

            Alright, gotta do this disqus thing so I can edit my miserable typos!

    • Mattski

      I kinda think that if you can rain ‘em like Timmy sometimes does for stretches that it’s quite reasonable to believe that you can do it more consistently. But at least three factors already make this slump different from last year’s: he’s become a better all-around player, contributing through driving, popping from short, and better D; he’s not letting missed shots affect his on-court play; and as Wayman Britt says above, the outcome doesn’t hang as much on whether his shots go in, including at crunch time.

      Timmy performer extremely well at Madison Square Garden; maybe another New York trip is the tonic for him. Not sure why I feel so invested, but I really want this kid to succeed!