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January 21, 2014 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-21

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2B - January 21, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Pistons were mistaken for not drafting Trey Burke

Utah Jazz rookie
turning heads with
13.7 points and 5.7
assists per game.
Mich. - It all felt right
because it was, from
the fans to the introduction to
the perfor-
scene was
perfect -
Trey Burke
signing EVERETT
and shouting COOK
"Go Blue"
to the
hundreds of fans who got to
the Palace of Auburn Hills
more than two hours before
the game started. He said that
being back in Detroit made
him feel like he was playing for
Michigan again, like he was
about to go on the court to play
VCU in the second round of the
2013 NCAA Tournament.
Everything was in place,
except for the jersey he was
The NBA's Pistons had a
chance to make this scene play
out 41 times a year, a chance to
draft Burke and make sure the
state's prodigal son didn't begin
his pro career somewhere else,
but they passed. They let one
of the best players in Michigan
basketball history - its first
Player of the Year since 1966
and its only Naismith Award
Winper - slide down to the
Minnesota Timberwolves, who
then traded him to the Utah
Jazz for the 14th pick.
The selection felt like a
surprise to most, but it wasn't
for Burke and his family.
"I found out the night before
that (Pistons General Manager)

over Burke, guard Kentavious
Caldwell-Pope, finished with
five points and one assist. The
Jazz blew the Pistons out of the
water, 110-89.
Benji said that Trey was
initially "a little hurt" that the
Pistons passed on him, but that
feeling passed pretty quickly
when he realized the situation
in Utah.
The Jazz are a young,
talented team without
expectations to win right away
- he has a chance to grow
without initial pressure. Plus,
his apartment in Utah is a mile
from the stadium and provides
a great view of the mountains
from the massive windows in
his bedroom.
"It came across my mind,
obviously with (the Pistons)
having the eighth pick," Trey
said Friday. "I kinda thought
they would take me, but they
didn't. Life moved on. I'm up
here and I feel like I'm in a good
position. Having a lot of fun."
When Trey was entering his
freshman year at Michigan,
Benji told him he had to make
it his team from the first open
gym on. He couldn't wait until
October to become a leader.
After that open gym, an
assistant coach called Benji and
told him that's exactly what
Trey did. Senior captain Stu
Douglass finished the session
and told the coaches, "That kid
has to start at the '1.' "
The Pistons have all the
talent in the world, All-Stars
rubbing elbows with All-
Stars, but there's a lack of
cohesiveness. It's almost like
they've never really practiced
together before.
Something, likea player who
at age 18 convinced a senior that
he should be running the show,
is missing.
Cook can be reached at
evcook@umich.edu and on
Twitter @everettcook

Former Michigan point guard Trey Burke could have been drafted by the Detroit Pistons. Instead, he's receiving national attention as a member of the Utah Jazz.

Joe Dumars didn't want him,"
said Benji Burke, Trey's father
and agent, in an interview with
the Daily on Friday. "From what
I heard the night before, they
didn't want to have a rookie
running the team. They wanted
to win now. Minnesota didn't
have any interest at all, they just
did it because they wanted the
picks that the Jazz had. I just
really think that Joe Dumars
didn't want to wait two or three
years for Trey to mature."
For many reasons - actually,
for every reason - passing on
Burke is looking like a bigger
mistake for the Pistons every
time the young point guard
plays. It couldn't have been
clearer on Friday night, when
Burke and the Jazz played the
Pistons in the Palace.

There seemed to be more
maize and blue in the stands
than Pistons jerseys. Burke's
introduction as Utah's starting
point guard drew louder cheers
than any player from the
Pistons got, as did his made
baskets on the

the basketball, they would come
from the music. December
brought Flo Rida. Friday
brought the Temptations.
You don't think having Burke
play here every night could
have helped those attendance

floor. He was The Pistons'
torching their announced
home team, "I kinda thought crowd on
but Pistons Friday was
fans didn't they would take me, more than
care. 4,000 more
This is a but they didn't." than their
team that's season
currently average. Not
26th out of all of that
30 teams in NBA attendance. should be attributed to Burke,
Recently, Detroit has been but try finding another game
trying to bring in big artists to this year where hordes of fans
play at halftime, hoping that if get to the games early to try
people didn't want to come for and watch the shootaround.

And yes, winning takes
precedence above all else
in the NBA. Draft choices
shouldn't be made based
purely off of fans' preferences
and feel-good stories.
And yet, Burke is clearly
more than just a hometown
kid that the fans love. He's
second in the NBA in points
(13.7)and assists (5.7) among
all rookies and was the Western
Conference Rookie of the
Month in December, even
though he's on a team that had
won just 13 games going into
Friday's matchup against the
On Friday, he scored 20
points and had a career-high
12 assists despite a slow start
fueled by nerves and jitters.
The rookie the Pistons drafted

Michigan fans swarm Palace to see rookie sensation

Daily Sports Editor
Praveen Manyam's son Arjun,
still in the formative period of his
sports fanhood, wore a Michigan
jersey to the Detroit Pistons
game Friday night, though
calling it a Detroit Pistons game
just wouldn't be right. It was
the Trey Burke game on Trey
Burke Celebration Day. It felt
like it could've been a state-
recognized holiday.
An usher tossed Arjun a hand
towel, and he caught it, a little
"That's Trey's towel," the
usher explained, and the kid
beamed from ear to ear. Arjun
had gotten into basketball in the
last two years - the time since
Burke arrived in Ann Arbor. But
Arjun doesn't care for the NBA.
He came to see his favorite
Michigan player.
In pregame introductions,
Burke got the loudest ovation
of all 10 starters as an opposing
player. The seats were filled
at the Palace at Auburn Hills
with a melange of Pistons and
Wolverines jerseys.
An hour and a half before
the game started, Burke signed
autographs on jerseys and
high-definition photos for fans
waiting by the tunnel. An hour
after the game, a line formed
the length of the court on the
sideline and veered up the
stairs in the lower bowl so that
fans might just get the chance
to take a picture with Burke
and say hello.
Waiting in that line was
Alex Groffsky. A Kalamazoo
College student, she followed
football for a while, but got
into basketball when Burke
began at Michigan.
She was at the game to see
one person and one person only.
Then there was Jake Bouren.
He came to the Palace in his
Utah Jazz Burke jersey, signed
by Trey himself before the
game. His father Mike bought
the tickets for the game a month
ago when it was clear that Burke
would be healthy after missing

the first few weeks of the season
with a fractured index finger.
Jake used to be a Pistons fan,
but is no longer.
"He's not a Pistons fan
because they passed on Trey
Burke," Mike Bouren said. "We
watched the NBA Draft, and I
said. hev. they might draft Trev

about the reception in Auburn
Hills. "Just because on the road,
it's kind of like everybody's
against you - the fans,
sometimes the refs are. You
wanna just embrace the times
like this where you have a big
support system."
For the 21-year-old, this erind

"College prepares you, but the
amount of traveling, the amount
of games - it's like times two,"
Burke said. "You just have to be
ready mentally. I think that's the
biggest thing."
Upon returning from his
finger injury in November,
Burke has looked more like the

Burke is averaging 14 points
and six assists and is shooting
90 percent at the free-throw line
through 30 games, roughly the
length of the Michigan regular
season. Jazz coach Tyrone
Corbin is trying to mold Burke
into a pass-first point guard, and
the rookie is unto the challenge.

hold everyone back so Burke
had to run onto the court by his
When the third quarter came
around, aggressive Trey took
over. He scored seven points
and recorded five assists in the
quarter on his way to a double-
double, finishing with 20 points
and 12 assists.
The Pistons were blown out
by 21 points, yet the fans got
what they paid for. Manyam,
Groffsky and Bouren all got
their money's worth.
In a battle of sub-.500
teams, the night was a chance
for Michigan, the region and
not just the university, to pay
tribute to the guy who made
basketball electric in the state
the past two years.
"I'm not even gonna lie, I
came out a little excited," Burke
said. "It was important for me to
just get comfortable out there.
Try not to really get distracted
by all the fans, signing things
before the game, things like
that. Just play basketball."
Just playing basketball is
what got Burke to this point,
and it's what got Groffsky to
the point she was at around
10:30 p.m. The Jazz team bus
was all loaded up and ready to
go, and Burke was walking up
the stairs in the lower bowl of
the Palace. He tried to please
his supporters by posing for
pictures, but he also didn't
want to hold up his team.
Groffsky joined the crowd
that swarmed Burke as he
stalked up the stairs. The
superstar was moving on to the
next step, the next challenge, as

Former Michigan point guard Trey Burke took over in the third quarter, scoring seven of his 20 points as the Utah Jazz blew out the Detroit Pistons in Auburn Hills.

Burke. And w
on him, he de
and there, he's
Pistons fan aga
The loyalty
not to the P
those three fat
Michigan wasc
with loyalty to
Burke, in1
successful first
him in the Ro
discussion, la:
smack dab in
five-day, three-
"It means a

hen they passed is the toughest part of NBA player he was at Michigan and
cided right then life. Even though this was his less like the guy in the NBA
never gonna be a Michigan homecoming - the Summer League who struggled
in." Jazz travel to Detroit only once with his shot and had trouble
is to Michigan, this season - finding space
Pistons. But for Burke enjoyed on a court now
ns, the loyalty to just a brief « crowded by
one and the same amount of It was giants.
Trey Burke. time with f., The finger
friends and important for fracture was
*** family when Burke's first
he arrived me just to get significant
the heart of a Thursday comfortable." injury since
t season that has night and had middle school,
okie of the Year to say goodbye but it gave him
nded in Detroit after the game the chance
the middle of a before the to absorb the
game road trip. team flew out to Minneapolis for game from outside the lines. The
lot," Burke said a game the next night. game slowed down for him.

"It's pretty tough just because
my whole life I've been an
aggressive type of guard," Burke
said. "But the last two or three
years, especially at Michigan,
I've really learned how to get
teammates involved."
Early in the first half Friday
night, it was clear why Corbin
might want Burke to alter his
style. Burke missed his first four
shots, but got his teammates
going with slick passes and
quick decision making from
the start. This even after his
teammates pranked him before
the game when the team was
set to run out of the tunnel,
and the veterans decided to

Minutes played pergameforthefirst-
sear starter




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