Along with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan, Trey Burke made the trip to Chicago to speak with the media for Big Ten Media Day. Burke fielded questions about Michigan’s five talented freshmen, the development of his own game, how it feels to definitely not be flying under the radar, and more. His answers are transcribed after the jump, or you can watch his interview in the embedded media player below.
Full quotes after the jump.
On if he approaches the game differently now that he’s considered a star and Michigan is one of the teams to beat:
Yeah, I mentally approach it differently. I understand that we have a target on our back. Last year, every team didn’t come out with that fire. I think every team is going to come out with that fire from the get-go. They’re going to try and get up early in the game. I think that’s something that we need, though. We’re so competitive in practice, I think we’ll be ready for those types of challenges. Coach Beilein does a good job of splitting the teams up in practice and just letting us go at each other and be competitive. I think that’s going to help us out a lot because during practice it’s so competitive sometimes we forget we’re on the same team and at the end of practice we come together. That’s making us stronger each and every day.
On reflecting on how far he and Michigan have come from in the last year:
I honestly expected to be here because I knew coming up in high school I knew the kind of work that I put in. I never got the recognition that I was looking forward to. Last summer, I just made a decision to work so hard I’m going to have to get noticed. Last year, I think one of the biggest things was we weren’t rated as highly as we are now, we were kind of under the radar. Once we beat some teams like Memphis and we beat some other top teams, I think people started noticing us and I think that was how we started to get people’s attention and stuff like that. To answer your question, I don’t think I have sat back and looked at how far I’ve come. It’s moving so fast that I’m not really realizing it right now.
On whether it gets overwhelming:
Sometimes. But I do a good job of keeping it in perspective. I think at the end of the day I know this is something I love to do and I’ve been playing basketball for so long — I never want to lose the joy of the game. I want to continue to have fun with it. Obviously I hate to lose and love to win, but if I lose, each and every time I want to lose with dignity and get back up and try to win the next one.
On recognition on campus — is he getting the Denard treatment?
(laughs) I’m not on his level yet. But it’s good, though. I enjoy our fans and I love being at Michigan. This college experience is fun. Growing up I didn’t know where I was going to go to school at, I didn’t know what college was going to be like. Now that I’m experiencing it I’m having a great time. I’m having fun, and I think that’s the most important thing.
On whether his summer camps made him better or wore him down:
I think those camps gave me confidence. Last year, we played against some top-caliber players, but at those camps, all the top guards, and all the top wings, forwards — mind you, me and Ryan Boatright were the only two sophomores in the camp, everyone else was a junior or a senior. That was at the Chris Paul camp. At the LeBron camp, there were probably two or three sophomores there. Pretty much all the camps were upperclassmen, and just being able to go in there and hold my own, we won a lot of games at each camp, it gives me confidence to know that I can play with the best players in the country.
On if he remembers any special moments from the camps:
There was a moment in the LeBron camp, we were doing a two-on-two drill and there were just a lot of people watching. I scored about six or seven buckets straight and I handed out some assists. Right there, I just knew I could hold my own against other top talent. As long as I have confidence, I know that I can play against anybody.
On what he likes about college other than basketball:
I just like the atmosphere. The atmosphere is crazy. Just the tradition Michigan has, the type of fans that we have is great. Especially on Saturdays, when the football team’s at home. The times like last weekend when we played Michigan State and won, there’s just a lot of people coming in and telling you good luck this year, you had a great season last year. Those types of moments make me realize how fortunate I am to be in college and playing for the program that I am. It’s that that helps me move out of the overwhelming side of the situation, because I do get overwhelmed and I may think, ‘What am I doing this for?’ Those situations help me have fun and help me continue to play.
On if he approaches his preparation differently now that teams can see him and Michigan coming:
Last year, there were teams game-planning against me, but this year it’s going to be another level. I have more weapons this year. I think my assists will go up this year just because we have shooters. We have Nik Stauskas, one of the best shooters I’ve seen in a long time, Matt Vogrich, Tim Hardaway, and people like that around me. I think just me finding them when teams do game plan for me I think that will open up offense for me throughout the games. That’s usually what I do — I take what the defense gives me. If the defense is giving me a jumpshot, I’m going to take a jumpshot. If they’re hedging hard and making me give the ball up, it’s my job to find who’s open.
On what it’s like having all of the new weapons:
It feels real good. In the competitions and during scrimmages, for the other team I hope, if a shot goes up I hope they miss but it’s going in. So it feels great to have the kind of talent we’re surrounded with now. I know that if people are in their spots, it’s my job to find them and if I find them they’re going to knock the shot down. That’s going to go a long way. More importantly, on the defensive end we’re more athletic. We have more people who can go in and get rebounds and get us more possessions. Last year, we had Novak playing, and as tough as Novak is, he’s 6-foot-4 playing the 4-man. That’s no longer a problem because we have more size.
On Glenn Robinson III’s spot:
Glenn is very athletic. Well, coach put him at the four yesterday but I don’t think that’s going to be his permanent spot. I think sometimes throughout the games he’s going to have him at the four, if a team’s small or if a team’s big put (Jon) Horford at the four, Mitch (McGary) or J-Mo (Jordan Morgan) at the five. Just with his athleticism, I think he’s going to be able to get us more rebounds and be a mismatch problem for a lot of teams on the offensive end.
On whether or not Nik Stauskas misses:
He misses, but it’s different. If he’s open, he usually hits it. He’s one of those shooters who you’d call a pure shooter. You know if you leave him, or even Vogrich — Vogrich didn’t really have a great year last year but he had a couple games where he hit a few threes — it’s kind of like those two, if they shoot, you know it’s going in, and if it doesn’t go in, you got a break. It’s a break for you. I think that’s going to be very good for us to have those weapons on the outside and have someone who can replace Stu and Zack from the 3-point line.
On the best shooting performance he;s seen from Stauskas:
I’ve seen him hit four to five threes in pickup games and scrimmages, but his best shooting performance? We have this, like, 60 in 5 drill, I think you guys heard of it, I think Nik might have hit about 78 threes, which is real impressive. I think Vogrich might have the record, which is, like, 81 or something like that. He got hot last year and broke it. Even for Nik coming in as a freshman and hitting 70-some threes in a drill where a lot of players on the team struggle to get 60, some struggle to get 50, just shows that he’s a great shooter. He can go on spurts and hit some big-time threes for us.
On the transition for the freshmen:
I think they just don’t know what to expect yet. I was the same way last year. Coming into games, I was obviously a little nervous. You know, that’s natural for anybody. I was able to get a scrimmage in before my first actual game last year, and we have two exhibition games instead of a scrimmage this year. After the exhibition games, the nerves will kind of go down. For them, I think it’s just a matter of them finding confidence and building them up on and off the court. I think I’ve been doing a good job of just building them up. Sometimes Mitch might have a bonehead play, turn the ball over and put his head down. I try to build him up from those types of things and help him move on to the next play. I think it’s one of those things that’ll just come over time for them and I think they’ll all be okay.
On the importance of being a captain:
It’s definitely meaningful to me, but the thing is, I’m going to be a captain on the court regardless because that’s my role. As a point guard, it’s my job to put people in their positions and stuff and hold people accountable when they’re not where they need to be. As far as the title of a captain, that’s important to me, too. But hey, if I’m not a captain, I’m still going to have that “captain” role on the court because that’s just my job. If I’m not poised out there, they’re not going to be poised. If I’m getting out of control, everyone else can get out of control. It’s my job to do all the right things so that the team will feed off my energy.
On going up against Aaron Craft:
Last year, Ohio State kind of bracketed all of our screens to where it kind of a trap. We didn’t really have a guy who could slip those screens and that I could hit or who could turn around and hit a 10-foot jumpshot. This year I think we have that option. I think that’ll open up the pick-and-roll game for me against teams like that. Obviously Aaron Craft is a great defender, but I think they do a great job of team defense. Everyone’s in their gap and they rarely make mistakes on defense as a team. I just try to play off of what the defense gives me. Whatever their scheme is for our offense, I try to make adjustments throughout the game. It’s difficult out there to make adjustments on the fly, but I think we’re capable of doing it.
On how that kind of team defense is an obstacle for young teams:
I think that’s an obstacle for a lot of teams, but like I said we have a lot of outside shooters. So if they’re playing the kind of defense where everyone is on their gaps and things like that — if I go right, Lenzelle Smith might be right there jabbing at me — I think the good thing about this team is that Lenzelle Smith might be guarding Nik Stauskas or Matt Vogrich or Tim Hardaway, and these guys can shoot. So if I kick it to them they can knock that shot down. What’s most important for us is to get out and run against teams like that, and I think we’re capable of doing that this year because we’re more athletic than we were last year.