Ronda Burke hadn't even heard about the report Thursday that her son, Trey, had decided to turn pro. She didn't need to.
"He has not made any decision," Ronda told Yahoo! Sports Thursday afternoon, when reached by phone. She went on to say she didn't believe Trey had even spoken to anyone outside the family about his plans. "Trey is focused on playing the games."
Twenty-four hours earlier, Ronda Burke said the same thing, even more emphatically, when asked about her son's pending decision.
"With all of this? Really?" she said. "The discussion has been that shot. The discussion has been Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas. That's what we've been discussing. We don't have time for anything else."
"That shot" refers to the 30-foot bomb her son dropped on Kansas with just 4.2 seconds left in regulation to force overtime in one of the most thrilling games in Michigan basketball history. Burke's shot tied the game after a furious late comeback, which featured another long three by the sophomore guard, who on Thursday was named the Associated Press' college basketball player of the year. Asked if she thought the game-tying shot was going in, Ronda said, "I think I felt it was going in, but that was before I realized how far back he was."
Ronda Burke, like her son, is normally quite confident. In fact, she started planning her trip to this weekend's Final Four in Atlanta long before the Wolverines were even in the tournament.
"We started contacting friends months ago, letting them know when the Final Four was and that we plan on being in Atlanta," she said. Trey? He talked about the Final Four before Michigan had played a single regular-season game.
Yet in the hours before the Kansas game last Friday night, Ronda Burke found herself anxious. When her husband, Benji, struggled to find a parking spot outside Cowboys Stadium, Ronda demanded to be dropped off so she could rush inside. "Stop the car and let me out," she told him. "I am not in this!"
Burke said she started watching the game with "a bad aura," which got worse as Kansas sprinted to an early lead. Then the mother of Josh Bartelstein, one of Burke's teammates, handed her a necklace clipped to a tiny Buddha. "Our karma," Sheri Bartelstein told Burke, "is getting ready to change."
And change it did. Burke says a positive feeling "came over the whole section," and Michigan closed the gap. After her son's shot, and the overtime which clinched the Elite Eight for Michigan, Burke says she burst into tears and other moms did too. "There were a lot of criers," she said.
Yes, Burke wore the necklace during the team's win over Florida on Sunday, and yes, she will make sure Sheri Bartelstein's Buddha is in the house in Atlanta.
"If she doesn't have it around her neck," Ronda says, "it will be around mine."
The season hasn't always been easy for Ronda Burke. She had to stop looking at social media after the team blew a lead late and lost at Penn State, which up until that night had been winless in the Big Ten. Then, after a gut-wrenching, last-second home loss to Indiana, cameras caught Hoosiers' coach Tom Crean exchanging harsh words with Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer, who was instrumental in recruiting Trey to Ann Arbor. Crean yelled, "You know what you did! You helped wreck the program!" – apparently a reference to Meyer's time at Indiana under former coach Kelvin Sampson, who resigned after serious rules violations. Meyer was cleared of wrongdoing. (Crean said he apologized to Meyer by phone for the comments.)
"We personally know him," Burke said of Meyer. "We know he's a God-fearing guy. I was personally offended. I didn't appreciate it. I didn't like it at all. It put a very sour taste in my mouth when it comes to that coach."
Now Indiana and all the other Big Ten teams are home, while Michigan remains. Even former Ohio State star Jared Sullinger has expressed his support for his childhood friend on Twitter, and Sullinger's dad sent the Burkes a photo of himself in a Michigan T-shirt. (Ronda says she hasn't seen Jared wearing any Michigan gear. "If he did," Ronda says, "he wouldn't send me a picture.")
Michigan's tournament run has given a sometimes-skittish mom some peace. It was only a year ago that Trey Burke leaned toward turning pro, then decided to stay, in large part because he didn't want to depart after a Round-of-64 loss to Ohio in the NCAA Tournament. In coming back, Burke has only upped his draft stock; his numbers have increased this season, in some cases dramatically: his points-per-game is up by 4 (to 18.8), and his assists-per-game is up by more than 2 (to 6.8). And the Wolverines are in Atlanta, as Mom predicted.
"Whatever happens, I'll accept it with a period and not a question mark," she said of this weekend's games. "At this point, as one of the last teams standing, we will hold our head up high. I know the boys want to win the whole thing. But we have no regrets whatsoever."
As for any discussion about what comes next – namely, will her son be heading to the NBA – that decision will have to wait.
"After April 8," Burke says.
After the necklace is put away.
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