The Michigan Wolverines boast a very long, very proud athletic tradition. However, there were not a few, but actually several years through the late 2000s when both the school’s football and basketball teams stunk up their respective playing environments.
No longer, however, and guys like Mitch McGary are a big reason why. McGary is the 6-foot-10, 255-pound starting forward for coach John Beilein’s basketball team. His ever-improving post game and brick wall screens have been a huge boon for guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., as well as small forward Glenn Robinson III.
[Don’t believe us? Check out this VCU player hit the floor after running into McGary]
Of course, all of Wolverines Nation is tuning into their basketball team’s first run to the Sweet 16 since 1994, and that includes football coach Brady Hoke.
Hoke has been impressed with the combination of size, speed and athleticism McGary has shown this year and now into March Madness.
So impressed, in fact, that he has even approached the player about the possibility of lacing them up in the Big House next season — although, according to McGary himself, no talks have advanced beyond the joking stage.
“I don’t know. He said, ‘We’ve got to get you out on the football field,’ “ McGary told Michael Rothstein of ESPN’s WolverinesNation. “Jokingly, but I think he’s serious down deep.”
McGary played football in eighth and ninth grade, until his father made him quit because he was too skinny for what was at the time his 6-foot-6 frame.
Now, obviously, he has grown up and into a rock. Rothstein did not only speak to McGary:
Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison gushed about McGary on Tuesday, laughing as he said he would put him at defensive end and he would “get a lot of sacks.”
Then again, while McGary could potentially perform well on the football field, there is just that minor buzzkill of a fact that he and his teammates are working on making a run for a national championship on the hardwood. Why would coach Beilein ever even think about sharing his big man now, when the team has got everything on the line?
“No, not going to share him, but a couple of screens he set did scare me a little bit,” Beilein said. “You guys probably are too young to remember Ted Hendricks but I talked about that with Greg Mattison.
“He would be good at that defensive end, maybe, too.”
Remember, Michigan took on Jadeveon Clowney’s South Carolina squad in the Outback Bowl this past year. Hoke and his team (and especially running back Vincent Smith) know a thing or two about monstrous defensive ends, but McGary does not.
“I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know,” McGary said. “I still like football, but I probably want to focus on basketball, though.”
Right now, that is probably the right answer. Until Hoke actually approaches McGary in a more serious manner, all the Michigan big man can do is focus on throwing down dunks and setting those legendary screens.
Oh yeah, and trying to get his Wolverines back to the Final Four, that too.