'Ask Nick' answered: Mitch McGary's progression, coaching staff info and rotation projections
ANN ARBOR -- There's no doubting that when it came to recruiting buzz, Mitch McGary was king around these parts last fall.
When McGary declared he'd be joining the Michigan basketball program in November of 2011, the buzz was high.
The 6-foot-10, 260-pound five-star prospect was, at one time, rated as the No. 2 overall player in America -- and the country's top power forward.
He suffered a dip in those same rankings, though, as his final season of prep school ball went on -- eventually losing his five-star status, and getting a reputation as a great talent that was still a bit rough around the edges.
This week, the mailbag begins with McGary -- who is still a very popular name around Ann Arbor.
(And, remember, to participate in the mailbag -- send a question to email@example.com, or drop a comment in the box below. Also, find me on Twitter: @nickbaumgardner. For a look at last week's questions, click here.)
Question: Is he close enough offensively to where we can start dumping the ball to McGary on the block once in a while ??? -- John Lumpkin
Answer: The short answer here, John, is no. Not yet. But it's also a bit more complicated than that.
When McGary was given that No. 2 ranking and five-star status last November, most Michigan fans immediately thought of Chris Webber. A 6-foot-10 big man that was athletic, can finish at the rim, can run the floor and even pass a little bit.
He even wears No. 4.
But those comparisons really aren't fair, and should really never be made again. When Webber got to Michigan, he was one of the most college-ready big men the game had seen in years. His hands were amazing. His footwork was perfect. His basketball IQ was off the charts.
McGary is raw. He has soft hands and a terrific motor, but he's not completely comfortable setting up shop on the block and allowing the offense to work through him. When Jared Sullinger was at Ohio State, his plethora of natural post moves allowed the Buckeyes to drop the ball into him and run everything from there. Michigan really can't do that with McGary right now, and I'd be surprised if he gets to that point this season.
But, the good news for the Wolverines is, they don't really need to. McGary is very good off the pick and roll with Trey Burke, and he's active on the offensive glass -- just like Jordan Morgan is. McGary's ceiling is higher than Morgan's, but right now, he's not in a position to be a focal point of the offense, in my opinion.
And I don't think it's close.
Question: Do you think we will see more Vogrich & Horford once B1G play starts, especially road games? -- Sean Gomez
Answer: I certainly think you'll see more of Horford once the season wears on, especially during those games where either Morgan or McGary gets caught with foul trouble -- and you and I both know that's going to happen.
Horford, to me, is the big man version of one of those hot-shooting guards that comes off the bench and is into the game right away. He doesn't seem like he needs to have a sweat worked up to be effective. He really makes the most of his minutes.
He blocks shots, and might be Michigan's best shot blocker right now. He gets his hands on loose balls, creates opportunities with his length and has done a terrific job of keeping possessions alive on the offensive glass. I think his role only increases as the year goes on.
Vogrich, I'm not so sure about. Nik Stauskas basically wrestled his starting job away by shooting the lights out, and Caris LeVert's presence on defense seems to have bumped him out of the rotation altogether. Beilein still trusts him, though.
Against smaller teams, like Northwestern, I think Vogrich can have an impact. But against big, athletic teams, Michigan has to role with Stauskas and LeVert in that role -- leaving Vogrich sort of on the outside looking in when it comes to playing time.
Question: I know this is a far away question I hope. Who do you see on John Beilein's current staff to replace him down the road? -- Jesse Rollo
Answer: Tough question, Jesse. I asked Beilein when he plans to retire before the season started, and he says he doesn't even think about it. So, we'll have to wait and see on that one.
I think assistant coach Jeff Meyer will be with Beilein until the end here at Michigan, he's been around the block a time or two and I think he's comfortable sitting next to Beilein every night and helping Michigan continue to build the program.
LaVall Jordan and Bacari Alexander are both going to get a shot at being a head coach at some point, it's probably a matter of when, not if. Both are terrific recruiters, and both are excellent at skill development -- Jordan with guards, Alexander with bigs. They've been a perfect fit for Michigan, and the Wolverines will sorely miss them whenever someone comes calling for a head coaching opportunity.
Time will tell on this question, but I do think both Jordan and Alexander have what it takes to be a head coach at this level. Just a matter of time before we see that happen.
Question: My impression is that the interior defense isn't great, either individually or helping out, although rebounding is light years ahead of the last two years. If so, are there any B1G teams that could exploit that, and if we get far enough, what national powers are strong inside that might give us problems? -- rwbill
Answer: Well, two of them are in Michigan's league right now, Bill. Indiana and Ohio State have the girth and size to be a bear on the glass. And Michigan will have to prove its interior defense is capable of handling athletic depth against both those teams.
Michigan State's always tough on the glass, but I don't think the Spartans are a team -- this year -- that Michigan will have serious trouble with inside. I could be wrong. But Draymond Green is gone, and Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne are a long way from Draymond Green.
Elsewhere nationally, Mason Plumlee is a behemoth at Duke. Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress are very athletic at Kentucky. But really, there are no Anthony Davis' or Jared Sullingers hanging around this season, outside of Plumlee and Cody Zeller.
A ton of teams are guard oriented, and wing oriented. And Michigan stacks up with most everybody when it comes to those two spots.
Question: Who will give Michigan its first loss of the season? -- Zaid Khan and MySpeilMan54
Answer: Great question, guys.
West Virginia could be the team to break this winning streak on Saturday in Brooklyn. Even though the Mountaineers are struggling, I'm sure they see this as a golden opportunity to get their season back on track.
From there, Michigan plays Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Northwestern (on the road), Nebraska and Iowa before visiting Ohio State.
If Michigan gets by West Virginia on Saturday, I think the Wolverines could run this thing to 16-0 before heading to Columbus on Jan. 13. Back-to-back road games at Ohio State and Minnesota in mid-January? I'd be surprised if Michigan gets out of that alive.
I'll say the first loss comes at Ohio State on Jan. 13. But, it could absolutely come Saturday, or at Northwestern on Jan. 3 (always a tough scout, as Beilein likes to say).
Thanks to everyone who participated this week. I look forward to doing it all again next week.
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