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Friday, November 11, 2011
John Beilein sees big things in Trey Burke

By Eamonn Brennan

It's not hard to name the biggest hole in Michigan's lineup this season: point guard. Darius Morris's decision to leave for the NBA in the spring cost Michigan its primary ballhandler and assist man, and few guards in the nation were better than Morris at setting up teammates. Morris dropped a dime on -- get this -- 44.3 percent of his possessions, the third-highest mark in all of college hoops. Point guards like that are hard to find.

Michigan's Trey Burke
Michigan coach John Beilein has named freshman Trey Burke his starting point guard.
Initially, it looked like Stu Douglass would take over the majority of the point guard responsibilities for Michigan. But then freshman Trey Burke came along. Burke is the reigning Mr. Basketball in Ohio, a former teammate of Jared Sullinger's at Columbus Northland High School, and, as of tonight, a first-year starter for the Michigan Wolverines. Why? Michigan coach John Beilein loves what he sees from Burke, and he's decided there's no reason to wait to give Burke a shot at running his team. From WolverinesNation's Chantel Jennings:
"He really feels good out there," Beilein said of Burke. "He's a point guard who's really done a great job, his whole life, of running the team."

[...] "He wouldn't be in that lineup if I didn't see every day that he's ready to do the best he can do," Beilein said. "Then we continue to nurture him through it."

Beilein said he plans to use Douglass as a sixth man, allowing him to "hunt shots" without having to worry as much about getting his teammates involved in the flow of the game.

This is an intriguing move. The point guard is always an important role -- duh, Eamonn -- but the position is especially important in Beilein's stretchy 3-point-reliant offense. With Morris gone, it seemed Michigan was bound to struggle with that spot for portions of the season. But if Burke is as good as Beilein seems to think -- if he's already ready to take the reins -- then Morris's departure will be minimized at the same time Michigan's chances of a season befitting their No. 18 preseason ranking are maximized.

Can Burke be the new Aaron Craft? If he's even marginally as good as Ohio State's freshman point guard was last season the Wolverines are in much better place than previously anticipated.