ANN ARBOR -- A year ago, Trey Burke might have lacked the confidence and patience to weather a scoreless first half in the NCAA Tournament.
He might have gone into his shell, he said Saturday. Now, the sophomore point guard has the University of Michigan going to its first Final Four in 20 years. The (30-7) meet Syracuse on Saturday in Atlanta.
“It’s definitely been crazy,” Burke said.
There’s little doubt that Burke will be the focal point for each team and for CBS’ coverage while leading the Michigan offense and being the prime target for Florida lockdown guard Scottie Wilbekin.
Already the odds-on favorite for major player of the year awards, Burke enhanced his credentials by scoring 23 points and adding 10 assists in a dramatic regional semifinal overtime win Friday over Kansas.
All of Burke’s points came in the second half and overtime. At halftime, he was 0-of-4 shooting, and Michigan trailed by six points.
“I never got down on myself, and I tried to stay confident,” Burke said. “I knew if I came out for the second half, moping or doubting myself, it would go south fast. A couple of times last year, I came out doubting myself. That’s never good.”
His 28-foot jump shot to lift Michigan into a tie at the end of regulation resulted in more than 200 text messages overnight. The shot was pure driveway fantasy, one Burke had imagined countless times.
“A lot,” Burke said. “It wasn’t from that deep, though.”
Burke remains focused on the NCAA grind now, not his NBA decision. Michigan coach John Beilein said, “It was the wrong time and the wrong place to ask that question,” when queried about Burke’s career path. That said, Burke nearly turned pro last season but decided to stay in school one more year.