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BACKSTAGE AT THE DANCE
Michael Rosenberg
April 01, 2013
SI HAD EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FAVORITE TREY BURKE AND THE PRECOCIOUS WOLVERINES AS THEY PREPARED FOR—AND THEN ROLLED THROUGH—THE NCAA TOURNAMENT'S FIRST TWO ROUNDS
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April 01, 2013

Backstage At The Dance

SI HAD EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FAVORITE TREY BURKE AND THE PRECOCIOUS WOLVERINES AS THEY PREPARED FOR—AND THEN ROLLED THROUGH—THE NCAA TOURNAMENT'S FIRST TWO ROUNDS

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"Real talk, real talk, real talk!" Burke said. "If we check, they will not go on a run."

Beilein told his team, "Here is what I love: They're coming at us with all that ha-ha, boo-bedy-ba—and we took it right at them!"

It was only halftime, but VCU was out of options, and the Wolverines knew it. They also knew they would get plenty of good shots in the second half. They just had to make them.

"It's about to get nasty," Stauskas told his teammates.

He was correct. Burke committed seven turnovers, but he finished with 18 points, including a baseline floater and jumper after a crossover that froze a defender, and he orchestrated the offensive devastation. McGary made 10 of 11 shots for 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.

It was precisely the game the coaches envisioned. And it was the team they had been looking for all year.

For years Burke has heard he is too small and not athletic enough. He briefly committed to Penn State because he didn't think he would get any other Big Ten offers.

But Burke doesn't play the disrespect game. He says he was "a late bloomer, definitely.... I had a good jump shot, I was good at penetrating, but I wasn't the most explosive athlete."

Last spring, to help improve his athleticism, Burke did serious lower-body workouts for the first time. The results surprised even him. In his first game this season, an exhibition against Saginaw Valley (Mich.) State, "I felt too fast," he says. "I had to slow down to get where I wanted to get."

He had improved his vertical leap from 37 inches to 41½. By comparison, All-NBA point guard Chris Paul's predraft vertical was 38 inches. Burke cut his three-quarter-court sprint time from roughly 3.3 seconds to 3.06; before Derrick Rose was drafted in 2008, he ran it in 3.05. Those are just workout numbers, but they indicate that Burke is athletic enough to excel in the NBA.

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