With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. now in the NBA, the Michigan Wolverines have some needs to address in their quest to build on last season’s run to the national title game. A key figure in the Wolverines’ plans this season is sophomore forward Mitch McGary, who played his best basketball of the season during the stretch run. With that being the case, many expect the Chesterton, Ind. native to lead the way for John Beilein’s squad.
Unfortunately for McGary and the Michigan program as a whole he’s been dealing with a lower back issue. According to Beilein the 6-foot-10 McGary is “day-to-day” due to the ailment, which has slowed down the big man in his preparations for the upcoming season.
During Michigan’s run in the NCAA tournament McGary averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, but even with the progress he’s expected to make this season McGary won’t be doing all of the heavy lifting by himself. Michigan also welcomes back fellow sophomores Spike Albrecht, Caris LeVert, Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.
Robinson III (11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and Stauskas (11.0, 3.0) were the most consistent of these four sophomores last season, with Albrecht (17 points off the bench in the national title game) and LeVert proving to be valuable reserves as the season progressed. Add in front court veterans Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan, not to mention freshmen Mark Donnal, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr., and Michigan has more than enough depth to be a contender both in the Big Ten and nationally.
If anything, the new practice schedule may work in Michigan’s favor when it comes to making sure McGary’s rested and healthy leading into their season opener against UMass-Lowell on November 8 (the Wolverines’ first test is at Iowa State on November 17). With programs having 42 days in which to complete a maximum of 30 practices as opposed to beginning on October 15, there are more opportunities to give the squad some extra rest.
Michigan has enough talent to accomplish a great deal in 2013-14, but the task becomes more difficult if McGary isn’t at his best. It’s better to have nagging issues such as this one come up now as opposed to in the middle of the season, when it’s tougher for the body to fully recover.