ANN ARBOR—As Michigan struggled to find good looks out of the half court set in Tuesday night’s loss at Duke, sophomore forward Mitch McGary took it upon himself to get the ball up the floor in search of easy buckets in transition.
Not always pretty or successful, McGary has the full support of Michigan coach John Beilein.
“He’s one of our best push guys,” Beilein said Friday. “As long as he takes care of the ball it’s fine with me. He starts turning it over then that’s a little different but he had some really great choices.”
McGary recorded a 15-point, 14 rebound double double against the Blue Devils, often ripping the ball down and immediately looking up court.
“Mitch, a big man who can take one or two dribbles and pitch it up, that’s a huge asset for us.”
Just in case there’s any confusion, Beilein wanted to clear up one thing about the role McGary plays for the Wolverines.
“Make no mistake, he’s not a point guard for us though,” he said.
Whatever position McGary plays Michigan is just happy to have him on the floor. Playing 27 minutes Tuesday night in Durham, Beilein continues to sub McGary in and out for breathers noting his overall game shape is still “a little bit below average.”
“He’s worked really hard,” Beilein said. “Now that he can actually, think about it, he did not jump in the air or run, except in a pool, for three months.
“So now, he jumps, I did a drill with him yesterday and he was gassed in two minutes, it was a hard dunking drill and he was gassed in two minutes.”
In six games played so far this season McGary is averaging just shy of a double double in his 25.3 minutes per game.
As the seasons progresses that number will likely see a significant increase but as Beilein noted Friday it won’t happen at the snap of a finger.
“It’s going to take time to do that but what do you do?” Beilein said. “So, we could work his tail off yesterday and today and then he’s too tired for the game. You just don’t get a guy in shape in no time, especially a man with that body and those responsibilities.”
One responsibility Beilein hopes Michigan can exploit further is setting up McGary, who has often times had good position in the post, with better opportunities in and around the basket with his frame and touch at the rim.
“Mitch touches the ball a lot, yeah,” Beilein said. “I mean, you see everybody touches it almost every time. Where he touches it is what we’re working on.”