Remembering Trey Burke’s finest moments

Trey Burke will be remembered as a winner. Michigan won 55 games in two years under Burke’s guidance as point guard and his resume is as littered with as statistical gems as it is game winning moments. With the news of Burke’s departure to the NBA, we took a look back at some of the defining moments of Burke’s career in chronological order.

The first block

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Michigan traveled to the Maui Invitational as a virtual unknown. Who were the Wolverines without star point guard Darius Morris? How good was this team that only scored 59 points against Ferris State and only beat Western Illinois by four points?

After 20 minutes on the island, Trey Burke had made it clear that he was here to stay. His performance against Duke was impressive the next day but this block at the end of the first half – and the ensuing jawing heading to the locker room – was the first “Trey Burke” moment of his career.



Michigan cruised past Memphis and establish itself as a contender in Maui and Burke would never look back.

The winning assist

Michigan-State-at-Michigan-27[1]Michigan-State-at-Michigan-28[1]
Dustin Johnston

Trey Burke made the winning or decisive play in Michigan’s four wins over rivals Ohio State and Michigan State during his two years in Ann Arbor. This play against Michigan State was his of those moments and the only one that involved a game winning assist. Michigan fought its way to a defensive stop despite providing a painful number of second chances to the Spartans before Burke pushed the the ball in transition and delivered a drop off pass to Stu Douglass for the winning bucket.

Hometown revenge

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A month later, Burke was back at it to defeat another rival. At this point Michigan was 9-4 in the league and suddenly a viable threat in the Big Ten Championship race. Hosting Ohio State with ESPN’s College GameDay in the house, Burke delivered a special performance against his childhood friend Jared Sullinger and the hometown school that didn’t recruit him. His floater over Jared Sullinger would seal the victory but he made a number of key plays down the stretch to propel the Wolverines.

The perfect game

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Dustin Johnston

This wasn’t the most important or the most heroic of any of Burke’s performances but this was, statistically speaking, his best game in a Michigan uniform against a major conference foe. Burke scored 27 points, handed out eight assists, grabbed four rebounds and snatched three steals in the 13 point win while avoiding a single turnover in his 34 minutes. Burke’s single game offensive rating was 180, the best of his career.

Big Ten fireworks

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There were plenty of times that Trey Burke made the game look easy as a sophomore but he managed to effectively end Michigan’s Big Ten opener before most even realized it began. The Wolverines were facing a shorthanded Northwestern team but Burke scored 13 straight points to give Michigan a 16-4 lead in Evanston. The broken ankles tell the story just fine.

Flipping the script

Michigan-76-Ohio-State-74-OT-31[1]Dustin Johnston

Burke’s third rivalry winning play came on the defensive end against a player renowned for his defensive ability. Burke was beaten by Craft for what looked to be an easy pull up jump shot to give the Buckeyes the lead in the closing seconds but he recovered quickly and blocked Craft’s shot from behind.

The steal

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For a player known for his offense, Trey Burke seemed to win more games with his timely defensive abilities. That was never more apparent than in Michigan’s win over Michigan State. The Wolverines looked like they had blown the game before Burke simply took the game right out of Appling’s back pocket.

Putting the team on his back

Michigan-80-Purdue-75-21[1]Dustin Johnston

Purdue made a tragic mistake. The Boilermakers thought it was smart to trash talk Trey Burke. With Michigan’s season floundering and down 12 points against Purdue, Burke did what he does best. He put Michigan on his back.

The Shot

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There’s not much more to say about the shot than what has already been written. Burke’s 30-foot three was the play of the NCAA tournament and a play that will be remembered for years to come in Ann Arbor and across the country.

The block that wasn’t

op6o-10071Sports Illustrated

This post started with a block so it’s only fitting that it ends with a block. Even if it was unfortunately called a foul. This is the moment in Burke’s career that will always provide the what if. Michigan was down just three points and could have had an opportunity to tie the game on the other end if the block was clean. Instead Louisville extended its lead to five points and never looked back.

More importantly, Burke’s ability to block shots as a 6-foot player is symbolic of his career. He’s not big enough or athletic enough that he should be a great shot blocker but that never stopped him from stepping up and making those game changing plays with everything on the line.

  • salama

    This post, and Burke’s very healthy block numbers, remind me that I think people think he’s a C grade athlete (for an NBA prospect) but he’s really a high B. He is small, but I don’t think he’ll get abused on D any worse than a young PG like Lillard or Kyrie Irving have been.

    And like them, he’s a great shooter who will get jumpers in transition, from spot ups and when teams go under on the pick and rolls.

    It’s really amazing how well-rounded he is. He directed the best offense in the country (Indiana has a case for a tie here, I guess), kept turnovers incredibly low, is a great shooter and has improved massively from an unheralded high school Junior to the best player in college basketball. His 3pt% jumped from 35 to 38 this year, and his FT% went from 75 to 80.

    Defensively, he’s a bit underrated, I think. Was probably the team’s 2nd-4th most consistent defender after Morgan, along with Levert and Hardaway (GRIII was hurt by having to guard bigger guys and McGary was all over the place much of the year, but they both have better defensive potential than Burke going forward) and made, as this post showed, a stunning number of big defensive plays.

    I really don’t think he’s getting enough credit for how good Michigan’s offense was this year. The more advanced stats we have, the more we see how phenomenal an NBA player Steve Nash was (led more offenses to league-leading PPS numbers than anyone in history, with something like 6 or 7 (Magic is next with 2)) and I think Burke will succeed running an efficient NBA offense and people will look back at Michigan’s fantastic offensive numbers as something they should have put more weight in when evaluating Burke as an NBA prospect. Sure he had the good fortune to play with 3 or 4 future NBA players, but we didn’t get much offense from the 5 until the tourney and were still putting up huge numbers, Hardaway Jr. was reasonably efficient without being amazing and Robinson and Stauskas were extremely efficient but I would hazard a guess that their buckets were assisted at a very high rate, rather than created by themselves.

    This is simplistic, but the offense was great because:
    1) Burke was great

    2) There were 4 good 3pt shooters on the courts at virtually all times (spacing)

    3) In transition, the athleticism and skill of our future NBA guys like GRIII, Hardaway, McGary and Stauskas were lethal

    Obviously, Beilein deserves credit for seeing how good Burke was before anyone else (save Penn State) and for his offensive designs/love of spacing that the NBA is now seeing is the way forward (Carmelo Anthony excelling as a 4 surrounded by shooters, the Miami Heat small ball approach and countless other examples).

    • mikey_mac

      Well, to be fair, Lillard and Irving are both considered disasters on defense, so hopefully Burke could at least match their performances. I actually think he can outpace them because of his basketball IQ and commitment to both sides of the ball.
      I like your point about UM’s offense, though … Beilein isn’t given any credit for running “pro-style” offense, but in reality, he’s been ahead of the curve to some extent by trying to spread the floor, run PnR, and take advantage of the PPP potential of 3-pt shots (especially true in the college game). This really allows both PGs and shooters to be prepared for the current NBA game, even if the complexity is a few notches higher in the pros.

  • MH_20

    I just shed a tear and I don’t even care. This was a fantastic post. Thank you for everything, Trey.

  • section13row15

    Awesome post! Best of luck to you, Trey! Thanks for the memories.

  • nick

    what a player, what a legacy.

  • JDR

    I’m sure somebody has said this already (I’ve been “in the woods” a bit lately) but to my mind, it’s not those killer plays he made that will stand out in my memory so much as the sheer number of times I’ll see somebody else do something small but outstanding on the court and think of Burke having done just about the same thing at one time or another. Case and point: every time I see a point guard pull that move where he breaks, hesitates, and breaks again to get to the basket for a layup, I’m going to think of Burke. That’s his legacy for me; its his trace on the play of UMich basketball into the foreseeable future.

  • hailtoyourvictor

    Zak Irvin picks up his 5th Star.. He is at #24 overall in Rivals new rankings. Walton sits at 37 overall.

    We need a forum so I don’t have to post this stuff Off-Topic :P

    • salama

      This 2013 class looks like an excellent one. 2-3 years from Irvin before he goes pro, 3 or 4 from Walton and a full 4 from Donnal (with a redshirt if both Mcgary and GRIII come back or if one comes back and Beilfeldt outplays Donnal in training camp).

      This needs math, but I think the perfect recruit is probably someone like Burke or Sullinger. Not likely to be one and done since they lack the incredible physical gifts those players normally have, but good enough to dominate and therefore only play 2 or 3 years before the NBA draft. Irvin looks like he could be in that sweet spot.

  • snoopblue

    Before I saw this post, I was kind of on the fence on whether or not he should get a banner with his name on it. After reading and seeing the post? Fuck it. Put it up. We had a great team the past two years, but this kid was the difference in the close games and comebacks.

    • Wayman Britt

      Snoopblue – Do you think UM will retire anymore numbers in basketball, now that they have brought the football retired #’s back. I am not so sure they will retire anymore numbers.

      • Adam St Patrick

        Good point. I hope the basketball program does its own thing. What football does is kinda silly, IMO.

        At the very worst I don’t want to see anyone else get the number for a good while.

      • jemblue

        My understanding is that they don’t retire the number, but just the “jersey.” For example, Rudy T’s #45 is in the rafters, but Colton Christian wore it last year.

  • wesssamons

    I shed a tear as well. Thanks Trey and thank you Dylan for the post… Great stuff!!

  • Gordon

    Great work as usual. I just want to say Burke is going to get a LOT more foul calls in the NBA than he was getting in the rough-and-tumble B1G. It’s amazing that he had such a good year with so much contact going uncalled.

  • Mattski

    Changing the subject, but. . . I really think that this could be Timmy’s team next year, and that he could do himself a world of profit by coming back and having a fantastic year. I am very keen to hear what happens, because Michigan can really use his leadership.

  • Vin

    Amazing, amazing post befitting an amazing player and person. Thank you Trey.

  • rlcBlue

    Thanks, Dylan, that really summed it up nicely.

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