Hold On

Submitted by cjane87 on July 18th, 2014 at 12:59 PM

[Ed (Seth) note: Brian's off today. but Jane Coaston (twitter: @cjane87) has finally written something for this site. Jane is an incredible writer (and an entertaining follow) who spends most of her day making the world better, and probably would have saved it by now if she wasn't so obsessed with college sports]:

He looked so small.

I was looking at Trey Burke in a Utah Jazz uniform at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and all I could think is, “He looks so damn small.”


When you leave college, you find that the world is big. The world is bigger than Ann Arbor or Michigan or the Big Ten or sports could ever be. It is bigger than Crisler, or this school, or that school, or any school. When you leave college, you have left the biggest little place you will ever be.

You will find that the world is full of a thousand stupid paper cuts. It is full of unspeakable evils, yes, but it is also full of HR managers and disappointing movies and nonexistent reminders for the things you were supposed to do two days ago. You are in debt to someone, probably. You should have cleaned out the back of your fridge in June. Your boss visibly loathes you. And your parents are suddenly old and you don’t remember how that happened. They weren’t old, and now they are, and they will now never not be old again.

Your sophomore year roommate who yelled at you once when you got drunk and threw up in a trash can will get married. The kid who you were convinced would never exist outside of the Brown Jug is now an investment banker in New York; he’s engaged now, too. Much of these changes seem to take place in spurts of activity on Facebook, but sometimes you run into someone you used to know and they’re still them, but a different them. Sometimes they’re so different that you don’t quite know what to say.

Charles Woodson is different now. Tom Brady is different now. Every Michigan player you have ever loved or hated or some bizarre yet totally understandable combination of the two is completely different from the way they were when they played in maize and blue. Trey Burke is different now. He’s playing in the Summer League before his second year in the NBA. He’s 21. He makes $2.4 million dollars a year. And he was roughly 25 feet away from me, playing in front of 13,911 fans on a Wednesday night.


“Are y’all here for Trey Burke? I see all this Michigan stuff and I’m trying to put it together.”

The guy in front of us - who turned out to be a West Virginia grad and friends with Patrick Beilein - turned around to ask us why we were wearing Michigan sweatshirts at a Wizards game. So did the two men next to us, who told us that Michigan-Louisville was the best title game they’d ever seen, and that the upcoming tournament should be a good one. “Good to see y’all representing your university,” one of the men said.

And we weren’t alone. When Trey Burke’s name was announced during warm-ups, at least six people in the area immediately yelled out, “Go Blue!” There were Michigan shirts in every section, Michigan sweatshirts, Michigan basketball jerseys. We had somehow turned an NBA regular season game into the Trey Burke and some other guys and Gortat! Show. This same Wizards team would later go on a mildly improbable playoff run, but on that night in March, we were there for Trey.

Trey Burke is different now, but he’s still Trey Burke. He still got the Steal. He still hit the Shot. The sands of time will turn to glass and the mountains will be made low and Trey Burke will still have put a Michigan team that had barely sniffed the Sweet Sixteen (or hell, the NCAA tournament) for over a decade into the championship game on a run that made me glad I chose to go to devote much of my sanity to the University of Michigan athletics department. I didn’t go to a Wizards game. I went to go see Trey Burke, Michigan player.

Desmond Howard hasn’t worn the winged helmet in 22 years but he will always be diving in the end zone on fourth down for a touchdown. Charles Woodson will be running back a punt on a cold day in November and beating Ohio State with a rose between his teeth for the rest of his life. Denard Robinson will always throw a floating pass to Roy Roundtree, who will fight through pass interference to catch it, and it will always be a touchdown, and we will always win. Maybe it’s strange to hold onto the projections of people like that, but we do it anyway.

Things change, and it’s terrifying. Our offensive line is literally one giant question mark. Michigan’s athletic department makes decisions that make me uncomfortable. I am not doing what I want to be doing with my life and I spend a lot of time trying to not think about that.

But Trey still beat Kansas.


Fuzzy Dunlop

July 18th, 2014 at 1:15 PM ^

Such a good article.  But then I get to the end, and all I can think about is this:

                   Our offensive line is literally one giant question mark. 


[To be clear, the "aaaargh" is about the misuse of the word "literally," and not the state of the offensive line, the correct reaction to which is *whimper*]


July 18th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

I suspect it was hyperbole but I think the author meant to imply that the five starters form together as one in a giant, Voltron-esque punctuation mark that may or may not be effective in protecting the quarterback or turning our running game loose. Its a bold strategy, but we just won't know until we've seen it on the field.

Fuzzy Dunlop

July 18th, 2014 at 3:49 PM ^

No, the definition has not "been changed."  A few dictionaries -- the vast minority -- added a second definition to acknowledge a widespread common misuse.  While it infuriates me that even a few dictionaries have included this incorrect secondary definition, the vast majority of dictionaries continue to recognize only the correct definition.


July 18th, 2014 at 1:22 PM ^

Ha!  I am so old that I would say that I will always have the image of Butch Woolfolk throwing the ball out of bounds to a screaming Lee Corso, and Johnny Wangler will always toss that TD pass to Anthony Carter to beat Indiana on the following play when I was a student.  And my two roomates will always have missed the play because they left the game early in disgust!!!

Love your writing; can't wait to read more!

panthera leo fututio

July 18th, 2014 at 1:27 PM ^

I don't know if it has more to do with Michigan's prior NBA drought, the circumstances of his tourny run, or with the character of Trey himself, but I get the feeling that there were a lot of us who turned out to see the Trey Burke NBA Tour last year. I donned all the Michigan gear I own to watch him come to the Staples Center and play the Lakers.


July 21st, 2014 at 2:22 PM ^

The only Pistons game I attended this past season was when Utah came to town. Trey torched Detroit and the stadium was filled with Michigan/Burke gear. They also cheered him when he scored against the home team. Even if the Pistons weren't god awful, I still think he'd get those cheers around here. 

Also, Dumars eventually left his suite after getting verbally assaulted by Pistons fans for passing on the guy in the draft. I was in ear shot of most of this and could see Joe D from where I sat. I wish KCP the best and he tore up summer league... but man, Trey Burke. What could have been. I can't help but think his mistake of Mateen Cleaves could have been a factor with Burke. Normally I wouldn't think that with a competent GM... but, y'know.


July 18th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

Great piece! It's a testiment to what a great escape Michigan athletics are from our normal lives no matter your personal status. At anytime we can reflect on those spectacular moments, be happy, and forget, if only for a moment or for the length of a Jazz game, the worries life brings. I think what keeps brining me back every Saturday during the fall is that every game has the potential to create more of these memories and I don't want to miss out. I'm willing to endure seasons like 2010 and hold out hope for 1997. It's what makes being a fan so great.


July 19th, 2014 at 10:00 AM ^

Recently, I read an article about Trey's NBA rookie season (Link). His stats in the last five minutes of regulation and overtime really stood out to me:

  • 55% of 3-pointers (2nd best in the NBA) 
  • 51% from the field
  • 94% from the free-throw line
Additionally, Trey has a 90.3 overall free-throw percentage, which is good for 4th place among NBA players who attempted at least 100 free throws.
Nik (GR3, too) did a great job in crunch time last season, but I wonder if there's a cold-blooded "killer" currently on the team. I guess we'll find out about that and the O-line soon enough. Can't wait!
By the way, welcome, Jane. This was a great read.  


July 18th, 2014 at 3:48 PM ^

Oh man, I don't know why, but for some reason this made me tear up. It's true, no matter what else ever happens in life, we will always have these moments of glory that the young men who play for the university we love made happen. Thank you for writing and posting this!