The Wolverine

February 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 29 of 158

"They play without ego, and seemingly with a connection to John [Beilein] and what he and his staff are trying to do," ESPN college basketball analyst Dan Dakich said. "You combine that with a real talent and a great system for kids to play in, you've got what you got — which is as good a backcourt as there is in the country, if not the best. It probably is the best." Former Wolverine and fellow ESPN analyst Tim McCormick sees it much the same way. "I would say that [Louisville's] Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are equal to them right now," McCormick observed. "I probably would lean towards Michigan's backcourt because I'm a little bit biased, and I love the balance of their team. I don't think you could say that either one is better than the other. "I also think Duke's guards are very good. Quinn Cook is really playing good basketball. Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon … those are the three backcourts that I like the best. Right now, maybe a slight nod to Michigan, but Louisville and Duke are outstanding as well." Safe to say, Beilein wouldn't trade his tandem — and throw in freshman super shooter and wing Nik Stauskas as well — for any other team's backcourt. Especially with the two older players, Beilein sees not only talent on the court, but fire and focus in practice as well. Burke and Hardaway account for a combined 34.4 points and 9.8 assists every time the Wolverines step onto the court. Either is capable of fueling a Michigan offense that stands second in the Big Ten only to Indiana's high-flying crew. They way his duo works, both against opponents and against each other, it should only get better, Beilein pointed out. "They've got great respect for each other because we match them up against each other in many drills," Beilein said. "As a result, when they're going against each other, they both either stop each other or give somebody something. They respect that. "Both of them are such hard workers and focused in practice. Those are our two most focused players in practice. Those are two good guys to have focused." A Growing Process Both Burke and Hardaway acknowledge some give and take in meshing. Hardaway spent his freshman season getting fed by assist machine Darius Morris, before Morris left school early for the NBA. As a sophomore, Hardaway shifted gears to adjust to the new point guard, and admitted to a transition time with a rookie demonstrating a greater ability to score the basketball. "It's always tough when you're transitioning from point guard to point guard," Hardaway said. "When we were in Europe [on a preseason tour], it really helped give me a sense of what Darius was all about. "You're coming from a guard that passes the ball a lot and really tries to get his teammates involved to a

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