Mitch McGary Replaced Trey Burke As The Wolverine’s Difference Maker

In nine matchups against Jim Boeheim, John Beilein’s win total was a big fat donut. As Clark Kellogg exclaimed in the first half, Michigan found the glazed doughnut’s hole in the form of Mitch McGary. The freshman wouldn’t be playing for a title if he had not dropped 20 pounds during the season.

Trey Burke was named Wooden Award winner and AP National Player of the Year, however, the sophomore point guard may have been overshadowed by McGary’s meteoric rise.

Just four days ago, McGary was sure that he’d be back on campus next season. On Friday, McGary backpedaled like Charles Woodson away from his declaration. His backtrack was quicker than his draft stock’s rise from bench gargoyle to possible first round pick.

Ignore the fact that Jordan Morgan, whom McGary replaced in the starting lineup, made the game-saving defensive play after getting underneath basket-hungry Brandon Triche. Interestingly enough, this happened while McGary watched from the bench after fouling out. McGary’s final shots were a pair of free throws that clanked off the rim, but when he was on the floor, McGary transformed Michigan from an exhilarating and entertaining perimeter-oriented offense to a legit championship contender. Against Syracuse he immediately made two blocks on his first two possessions.

Morgan averaged under five points and five rebounds per game before losing his starting job before the tournament. His benching opened the door for McGary to get burst into the lineup and the limelight with 16 points and 11.6 rebounds per game averages.

Michigan beat up Syracuse’s 2-3 zone, just as they did VCU’s vaunted Havoc defense. Before Kevin Ware’s tibia made a guest appearance, McGary’s screens on VCU’s perimeter defenders were the most bone-crushing moments of this tournament.

Not to say the Wolverines could beat the Detroit Pistons in a seven-game series, but if Joe Dumars were to hit reset on the Pistons, he might draft Michigan’s future pros instead of the roster that’s currently scraping the Eastern Conference’s floor. A few weeks McGary was an afterthought to Michigan fans. Today, he’s the focus of NBA scouts.

Brandon Triche seemed so sure of himself when he made the bold claim on Friday that Syracuse had the overwhelming size advantage, but he forgot to account for McGary.

McGary’s low post presence has been noted extensively, but his no-look pass to a cutting Glenn Robinson III as he dribbled along the high post gave a glimpse of his versatility. McGary's in Atlanta this weekend playing more like the Atlanta Hawks' physical power forward Al Horford than his brother Jon does. Al Horford was integral to Florida winning a pair of titles in ‘06 and ‘07. McGary’s on the right track.

GIF: When Mitch McGary isn't throwing no-look passes, he's dunking like the Incredible Hulk.


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