Utah Jazz: Spotlight's on Trey Burke; Gordon Hayward uncertain for tonight's game
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — It’s Trey Burke Day in Michigan.
Well, maybe not officially, but it’s going to seem that way when the former University of Michigan star takes to the court for the first time in his college state as a professional basketball player.
A couple of local camera crews were at the Jazz’s shootaround Friday morning to gather quotes about Burke, who led the Wolverines to the 2013 national championship game. And Jazz PR has received so many interview requests that they’ve scheduled a pregame press conference for Burke similar to ones Gordon Hayward conducts when he returns to Indiana.
“It should be fun,” Burke said about playing in his college state. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin isn’t too worried about the 2013 NCAA player of the year being able to handle the pressure of extra attention from media, family and friends, and playing in a situation with high expectations, as will all be the case when Utah plays Detroit in the 5:30 p.m. MT tipoff.
After all, it was the way Burke handled the pressures in Big 10 play and the NCAA Tournament that convinced the Jazz he could be their point guard of the future.
“He’s performed under pressure before,” Corbin said. “This will be a little different for him, because it’s his first time coming back to Michigan. We’re excited for him, but we need him to have a big game to have a chance to win.”
— Shooting guard Gordon Hayward is a game-time decision for tonight’s contest at The Palace of Auburn Hills. He’s missed the past three games with a left hip flexor. Corbin said Hayward received treatment and did some drills Friday morning, but he didn’t participate in shootaround.
Alec Burks has averaged 23.3 points while starting for Hayward at shooting guard.
“I’m just out there being aggressive,” Burks said. “However minutes I get from Coach Ty, that’s all I’m doing.”
— Burks admitted it was “weird” to return to Denver for the first time his rookie season of 2011-12 after playing at Colorado for two seasons, but he thinks it might be a bigger deal for Burke because of his popularity.
“He’s a grown man. He’ll get through it,” Burks said. “He still knows it’s a game even though he’s coming back to his state.”
Burks has been impressed with how Burke, the reigning Western Conference rookie of the month, hasn’t let any attention distract him.
“He gets a lot of attention,” Burks said, “and for him to not notice, I feel like that’s amazing.”
— The Jazz have won all but one of the past 15 games between these teams. The Pistons’ only victory in that eight-year stretch was a 120-116 decision in Detroit on Feb. 26, 2011.
Like Utah, the Pistons are young and in a rebuilding process, but Corbin considers them a big threat.
“They have some great young talent. These guys are getting better every year — you look at (Greg) Monroe and (Andre) Drummond. I think they’ve made some great strides this year,” he said. “And then you add (Brandon) Jennings and Josh Smith to this crew. It’s a deep group.”
— Corbin is challenging the Jazz to play the Pistons (16-22) like they were the Spurs (31-8).
“You can’t go down a notch,” he said. “You’ve got to be ready to play each and every opponent in this league.”
— The Jazz coach took exception to a question about Marvin Williams struggling. The power went scoreless against the Spurs and only scored 10 in games against Denver and Cleveland before that 0-of-2 shooting night, but Corbin believes the starting power forward has still been productive in other ways.
“Guys always look at a guy’s points and say he’s struggling,” Corbin said. “There’s more to the game than that. He didn’t score for us, but I thought his minutes on the floor (were) really good for us.”
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