Mitch McGary says he's getting in better shape, slimming down and revving up his motor
ANN ARBOR -- There were several moments Monday that offered a glimpse as to why Michigan freshman Mitch McGary was such a highly-coveted player in high school.
But only one of them left the base of the basket shaking.
With 10 minutes to play in the game and Michigan up 30, the 6-foot-10, 262-pound McGary got his hand on a Saginaw Valley State pass near the Cardinal 3-point line. The rest, was pure effort and pure power.
McGary out-ran everyone for the loose ball, eventually corralled it and dropped down a thunderous one-handed slam in transition that brought anyone remaining in Crisler Center to its feet in awe.
"I like out-working people," McGary said bluntly.
McGary has already been compared to former Michigan captain Zack Novak for his relentless energy at both ends of the floor, leading John Beilein to claim it's something that "must be indigenous of Chesterton, Ind."
The only difference between Novak and McGary, though, is that the latter is a near 7-foot tall bundle of emotion, energy and passion.
McGary's motor never stops -- it only idles. And throughout the early stages of practice, McGary's overall physical shape has kept his famous motor in a lower gear far more often than he'd like.
He admitted Monday night that he entered the beginning of practice last month at a weight that was too high for him. A combination of extra weightlifting, food and a nagging foot injury kept him from slimming down quickly, and kept him from performing at his highest level.
"When I got here I just put on a bunch of muscle weight," said McGary, who will open the regular season with his teammates at home Friday (8:30 p.m.) against Slippery Rock. "I'm at 262 (pounds) right now, but I was up a little higher than that and it was causing me to not be in such good condition at practice, but I'm leaning back down."
McGary said he felt much better Monday against SVSU than he did last week against Northern Michigan, where he had energy, but also looked visibly tired at times.
Michigan's hulking freshman grabbed 10 rebounds in 20 minutes for the Wolverines on Monday, leading Beilein to believe he's on his way to better health and better shape.
Which can't be good news for the rest of the Big Ten.
"With those media timeouts, he can really push himself," Beilein said. "What they end up seeing is the video (in practice) of them with three minutes into (the game), they're dragging their butt down the court.
"They know the truth is going to find them the next day in video. They have to understand they can play harder and play through these things. He's getting in better shape, and game shape is different than all the sprints we run."
McGary and Beilein have said his playing weight needs to be about 260 pounds, which he's nearly at right now. McGary also says his injured foot, which forced him to be limited in practice last month, "is not an issue" right now.
He also understands that the more he plays, the better shape he'll be in. And better shape means more motor, more rebounds and far less idling for Michigan's energetic big man.
"I know I'm going to be down low and (have to out-work) people in the low post," McGary said. "Any chance I get to make an easy bucket, I'm going to take it."