McGary’s rapid improvement adds another weapon to Michigan’s arsenal

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Syracuse-Michigan promises showdown of in-form shooters Southerland, StauskasCarter-Williams, Burke renew 10th-grade duel in Final FourMcNamara outlines how he scouts Michigan ahead of Final Four matchupSoutherland, Boeheim surprised Final Four run came this season Published on April 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_isemancenter_img ATLANTA — A crush of microphones and notepads surrounded Mitch McGary in a corner of the Michigan locker room inside the Georgia Dome. The questioning ranged from McGary’s fall in the rankings coming out of high school, to his time in high school delivering newspapers on a unicycle, to how he plans on attacking Syracuse’s zone.A relatively unknown center for most of the regular season is now a star in the NCAA Tournament. He’s been a key reason for Michigan’s rise to the Final Four, something that he’s going to look to continue on Saturday.“We’re just going to try to get good looks,” McGary said. “I’m going to try to create the defense to collapse down on me so my guys can get more looks.”His ascension to a top-of-the-line center in only his freshman season is the product of a dedicated workout and diet regiment that’s seen him lose about 20 pounds over the course of the season. McGary’s quick in the paint and has a nice mid-range jumper, a combination Syracuse will have to control when the Orange plays Michigan in the Final Four on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.In Michigan’s four NCAA Tournament games, McGary is averaging a team-leading 17.5 points per game. He’s also grabbing 11.5 rebounds per game, including eight per game on the defensive glass.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith McGary crashing the glass as well as he does, Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins said the Orange’s guards will help out on the backboard. He said when Syracuse rebounds hard, it’s a different team.But keeping McGary off the glass won’t be easy, he said.“It’s hard,” Hopkins said. “We’ve got to be able to rebound areas when our guards come back and rebound like we did against Indiana.”On a team that already had a cast of stars in Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr., McGary has risen up during the Wolverines’ most important stretch of the season to help lead them to the Final Four.Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas said Friday afternoon that the Orange hadn’t yet watched film on the Wolverines. But from what Christmas has seen, McGary likes to drive to the left and looks for dump-offs on the perimeter.McGary said he’s lost 20 pounds over the course of the season. It’s helped his quickness and athleticism, but it’s also given him a chance to become a regular part of Michigan’s rotation. And not only be a part of it, but thrive in it.“I used to eat a lot of junk food and my metabolism kind of slowed down now,” McGary said. “I started making changes to my diet and appetite. I can’t eat pizza, hamburgers, fatty foods, and not a lot of junk foods.”Now he’s quicker. He has more endurance. And that means he can stay on the court for extended minutes.That’s been especially critical in the NCAA Tournament. Throughout the year he’s averaged 19 minutes per game, but in the Tournament that number has risen to 29.8.It’s been a complete turnaround for McGary, who slid down the rankings of top prospects coming out of high school. He was once the second-highest rated recruit in the country, but ended up sliding down to No. 20.McGary said Friday part of the reason was that his mind was on other things, and his focus wasn’t on basketball as much as it should’ve been. All of that is different now.After changing his body to become a quick, explosive center, McGary’s a critical member of Michigan’s lineup.There’s a reason he’s gaining all the attention. There’s a reason why he’s helped lead Michigan to the Final Four.Said McGary: “I think overall just focus and having the mindset and urgency to win.” Commentslast_img

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