Michigan basketball forward Tim Hardaway Jr.'s all-around game provides hope for the Wolverines
Throughout the despair and the frustration of a season and six-game losing streak none of the players on the Michigan basketball team have quite experienced before, there is hope.
Hope isn’t found in its struggling defense or disjointed offense. It rests with Michigan’s most-athletic player.
When Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped on Michigan’s campus this summer, he stood out as a freshman who could make a difference.
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com
He showed it in Europe before the season when he led Michigan in scoring during its four-game European tour.
Then he immediately entered the starting lineup for Michigan and led the Wolverines early on in a road win at Clemson.
Now, Hardaway Jr., in the middle of a team that is struggling in every facet, is showing he’s going to be a good player in the Big Ten as well.
He’s scored in double figures in five of Michigan’s last six games, including tying a career-high 20 points on Saturday in a 69-64 loss to Minnesota.
“Tim really has helped our team chemistry, really helped everything that we’re trying to do,” Michigan coach John Beilein said. “He still is a freshman, he’s still going to make mistakes. But there are not a whole lot of freshmen in the country putting up 20 against Minnesota.
“He’s going to be very good.”
In some ways, Beilein is right. Ohio State freshman Jared Sullinger had 15 points and 12 rebounds against Minnesota on Jan. 9.
But the Buckeyes won. The Wolverines did not.
Hardaway doesn’t lead Michigan (11-9 overall, 1-6 Big Ten) in any category. He is second to sophomore Darius Morris in scoring (11.8 ppg.), third in rebounding (3.8 rpg.), third in assists (28) and is shooting 29.8 from the 3-point line and 36 percent from the field.
He’s taken 114 3-pointers and 89 2-pointers.
And it’s all part of the growing process for Michigan and for Hardaway Jr. Next stop: At Michigan State on Thursday (7 p.m., ESPN)