I knew Michigan guard Trey Burke, the co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2012, played a lot of minutes in his first season for the Wolverines. I did not, however, know that Burke played 1,227 minutes last season, the second-highest single-season total in Michigan history.
That's a lot of minutes. Too many? Michigan coach John Beilein seems to think so, and as such, this coming season he will be looking for every opportunity to get Burke a break. From AnnArbor.com:
Michigan survived Burke's heavy minutes a year ago, but Beilein insists the Wolverines can't go through that again.
"Trey Burke needed to get rest," Beilein said of last season. "The game has changed where the point guard has the ball much more than he ever had it. ... And we realize that. (Burke) was a horse the whole year, and was still able to perform, but we realize that's not the best practice." [...]
"I always thought the players you want on the floor the most, 30 and 35 (minutes) is a good number," Beilein said. "That would mean an eight or nine-man rotation, but who knows, we could go 10."
Despite what the NBA2K12 computer simulations try to tell me -- I swear to God, if I have to trade another dissatisfied scrub because his minutes are down, I will break a controller -- there is no such thing as an ideal universal basketball rotation. Michigan could get away with 10 players, or it could limit its rotation to seven, but it's clear Beilein is leaning toward the latter if only to keep his best and most important player as fresh and injury-free as possible throughout the season. Considering the minutes Burke played as a freshman, it's kind of remarkable this wasn't an issue months ago.
Beilein will have a few options with which to lighten Burke's load. Freshman point guard Spike Albrecht is hardly a high-impact recruit (he's ranked No. 112 in the country at his position alone) but he could at the very least provide depth, while incoming small forward Nik Stauskus could provide some ballhandling in a combo role. Caris LaVert is a combo guard, and returner Matt Vogrich will likely be the go-to reserve when Burke and starting shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. need a rest.
In the end, that ight be Michigan's biggest concern: quality depth. If he can find it, and the Wolverines can keep Burke and Co. fresher without suffering a major drop-off in productivity, they could be as dangerous as any team in the country.