The Final Four has already been detailed on this site for the benefit of all. All the individual player media hype with regard to Michigan has been focused on and at everyone’s POY Point Guard Trey Burke, and to be fair deservedly so. Burke has had an excellent NCAA Tourney, and done a whole lot better than well. From making sure to get his whole team involved with great distribution and create/assist work, to playing stopper defense to punish opponents, to the EPIC “Shot Heard Round The World” that will be at the top of Michigan Basketball lore forever, to the team leadership and swagger that has given the whole Michigan roster, a young roster at that, the “can do” confidence to win it all. Yes all has been done well by Burke, just as was called out as needed early on in the tournament!
However even with Burke playing at this most outstanding level, it must be said giving credit where credit is due that Michigan’s real engine that has driven Beilein Magic Bus onto the Final Four starting line has been the play of freshman 6’10″ PF/C Mitch McGary. McGary Has Blown Up! Big Time! And at exactly the time Michigan needed him to. Without McGary, Michigan WOULD NOT be where they are today! PERIOD! McGary has exploded on the NCAA Tournament scene! Take a look at McGary’s NCAA Tournament stats from the first four games:
McGary is rebounding and scoring at a phenominal rate and with great efficiency. Take for instance his 17.5 ppg scoring average over the four games comes with a 73.3% shooting percentage. The NCAA Tournament hasn’t seen this kind of deadeye scoring efficiency since Lew Alcindor hit for 67% back in ’67! And McGary’s not just getting this high efficiency on layups either, rather a goodly amount of really good 5-15 foot shooting, as well as some drives and runners, even offhand with a high level of difficulty! This has opened up the middle for Michigan’s wings to penetrate via backdoors or their own drives to the rack. Probably the most impressive thing about McGary, is that his personal foul count has been averaging a low 2.3 per game, and this in spite of averaging almost 30 minutes per game he’s played against and dominated many of the NCAA’s best bigs. It can even reasonably be said that McGary has surpassed the impact of Michigan’s other Fab big man Chris Webber. In fact fans can decide that right now!
McGary has been a game changer in a variety of ways. In some games it’s grabbing rebounds, and in particular the offensive rebounds or tap outs that gave Michigan key second chance shots. In some games it’s been ultra efficient scoring, or the threat of scoring that allowed other teammates better shots. Sometimes just the hustle plays and steals and timely blocks inspired his teammates defensively. Without McGary’s play Michigan certainly would have lost already, no question. For instance Exhibit A is how McGary put Michigan on his back early on in the Kansas game, until Burke could take over with his EPIC heroics. But Burke would be the first to tell you there’s not heroics to be had unless McGary carries the team first. Sure there’s some items can improve on, such as his FT shooting and his turnovers. But that is really minor negatives compared to his huge positives. Real Michigan Fans as well as College Fans Nationwide now know McGary must be given equal considerationn to Burke with regard to the NCAA Tourney MVP up to this point!
Interestingly there’s been the expectation that Burke will leave for the NBA this year, most agreeing it’s a sure thing now. And then there’s additional speculation that teammates Hardaway and Robinson might join Burke, as both have appeared in mock drafts and NBA draft discussions. However make no mistake, the NBA scout are drooling most over McGary. McGary has shown he can cover the biggest of bigs C in his domination of Kansas’ Withers, and has shown he can cover smaller/quicker PF perimeter based big men. A athletic 6’10″ Dave Cowens like lefty that can run the floor, rebound, set brick wall picks, play solid defense, hustle and score big with great efficiency is every pro scout’s first round draft dream. So if McGary continues to put up this level of impact and stats do not be surprised if he surpasses Burke and all the rest in the NBA draft! But first, and luckily for just how that NBA recognition is achieved, McGary and Burke and Michigan the TEAM must put their all into getting to the NCAA Tournament Finals and finishing the deal by winning a National Championship. Why then you might just see all four Michigan players head for the NBA!
And as for some additional inspiration for the rest of the NCAA Tournament, and possibly one might expect even more motivation of high level big man play, could be probably the biggest motivator for this young McGary fella is knowing that IF he keeps playing at this high impact level, and IF he becomes that superstar big man on an NCAA Championship team, well he just might get that coveted date with Miss Gomez!