March 7, 2013

McCormick on the perfect setup

ESPN college basketball analyst Tim McCormick knows all eyes will be on Crisler Center come Sunday, when Michigan and Indiana square off. He insists that says a lot about the program for which he performed.

Here's McCormick…

On U-M's win over Purdue: "As a Michigan fan, I was thrilled with the outcome. I was as excited about last night as the Michigan State game. I say that because I'm really a big believer that to build a championship program, you need to be able to play in legacy games, championship games, huge events with a lot at stake, games in which your fans run on the court, you cut down nets.

"If Michigan would have lost to Michigan State, everybody would have been just disappointed because it's a rival. But you can bounce back from that. There are other positives you can gain.

"The Purdue game, to me, meant a lot from the standpoint that they were down 12 with 12 to go, and they didn't quit. They set themselves up to play for a Big Ten championship. They got contributions from guys who have been a little bit out of rhythm lately.

"I can't wait for Sunday. It's just going to be a fabulous, fabulous showcase for the program, a sign of growth even from last year. I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season and I thought, wow, the schedule makers really set this up nice. You could potentially have one of the marquee games of the entire college basketball season on the last day, with so much at state.

"I was elated the way last night worked out."

On freshman Nik Stauskas' performance: "He was great. He showed a lot of courage. That's a really loud and tough environment, and Purdue always plays physical. Michigan was in desperate need of some perimeter shooting, because they don't allow you to get to the rim very easily.

"Stauskas' perimeter shooting made life a lot easier for Trey Burke to take over. It seemed like when Stauskas was making shots, Trey had more gaps and seams to get by his man. I don't think that's a coincidence."

On the Wolverines' seeming propensity to miss a lot of short shots and have rebounds tip off their hands: "The Big Ten, defensively, is the most congested lane in all of college basketball. The scouting reports are so incredibly deep right now.

"The Michigan front-line players, other than [Jon] Horford and [Jordan] Morgan, are either young or still developing physically. It's a skill that comes with time - being able to hold of your man, battle for position, but still have the strength, power and athleticism to separate and go get the ball.

"I thought Trey Burke really improved from freshman to sophomore with his lower body strength. When you look at Stauskas and [Glenn] Robinson and [Mitch] McGary, the support guys, they play with a high center of gravity. That will improve with time."

On Burke's ability to turn it on when Michigan came down the stretch against Purdue: "I have not hidden my great admiration for Trey Burke at any point during this year. I believe he is the Big Ten MVP, first-team All-American, and depending on how the rest of this season finishes, I think he's an extremely strong candidate for national player of the year.

"That being said, if I was going to target a flaw or an area I think he could improve as the best player, I think he defers a little bit in the first half. I would like to see him take ownership of the game immediately, aggressively try to score the ball and make plays for his teammates.

"He takes his time trying to destroy his opponent. As the best player, he should be a little bit more aggressive from the tip."

On whether or not Burke is the best point guard in Michigan basketball history: "Burke is the best offensive point guard that I've seen at Michigan. He has the greatest mid-range game of any guard.

"Gary Grant was the best defensive guard. Rickey Green was the best transition point guard. They all have different variables.

"If Trey Burke takes Michigan to a Final Four, then I'd be much more willing to go ahead and unequivocally say yes. He's right there in the conversation, and he has facets of his game that are better than anybody I've seen."

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