Beilein says Hardaway's "intensity got in the way," and even as Michigan earned a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, Hardaway was frustrated. He rushed shots, which threw his form out of whack. His three-point percentage dropped from 36.7 to 28.3.
In early February, Hardaway missed 9 of 10 shots against rival Michigan State. Three days later, at Nebraska, he drove for an uncontested layup. He thought, All right, this will get me going....
"I'm like, What could possibly be going on right now?" Hardaway says. "This is unbelievable!"
Tim Sr. saw that if Tim Jr. didn't score early, "he got lost in a lot of games." But the father kept his promise to himself and refused to criticize his son. He told Tim Jr. he looked robotic, but not as a complaint—he just wanted to help Tim Jr. loosen up. Tim Sr. offered to call the Michigan coaches and talk to them. Tim Jr. asked him not to. He wanted to fight through this slump himself.
"I just had that mind-set of going into the game trying to make everybody else happy instead of myself happy," Tim Jr. says. "That really hurt me a lot. I wasn't having fun."
Glenn Robinson III is only a freshman this season, but Michigan's coaches call him a "lights-on player," immediately comfortable on the college stage.
Beilein prides himself on being a teaching coach, and he raves about Robinson's "natural basketball aptitude.... The most impressive part: He takes it and puts it into action immediately." They tell him to rebound from a certain position, and he does it relentlessly. They explain a defensive concept, and he applies it.
Before every game Robinson asks himself a question his father never asked: Who do I have to lock down? He says scoring "is the last thing on my mind." But in Michigan's two exhibition games and its season opener, against Slippery Rock, he scored 40 points on just 24 shots, and the coaches didn't even call plays for him.
He plays without much emotion but with complete self-assurance. This has had an effect on his teammates. Especially on Tim Hardaway Jr.