Mitch McGary's all hustle all the time, but he's still working at 'playing big'
ANN ARBOR -- With Michigan up 25 during the second half at Northwestern on Thursday, Mitch McGary showed why his coaches and teammates love him.
After losing control of a fast break attempt, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound McGary dove head first for the ball before sliding into the Wildcat student section.
He didn't save the play, he actually didn't come close -- but he drew a standing ovation from the Wolverine bench for the effort.
"I've got a couple blisters," McGary said Saturday, showing off a bandage on his right hand. "But that's what I'm about.
"Diving on the floor."
No one at Michigan has an issue with McGary's effort or his motor. He's instant energy off the bench for the Wolverines -- who will host Iowa (12 p.m., BTN) on Sunday -- and his work on the offensive and defensive glass has been rather consistent -- as he's the second-leading rebounder on the team at 5.8 boards per game.
But the polish of his game still isn't fully there -- most notably his footwork, and his ability to consistently play "big" under the basket.
"The pace of the game, sometimes I move too fast," McGary said. "I try to do everything right, I just need to take things one step at a time.
"It's just footwork and balance, I've been trying to work on that a lot. Catching rebounds, staying balanced to make an outlet pass or go back up with it if it's an offensive rebound."
McGary's been active on the offensive glass, and he's been able to finish plays in transition -- but, at times, he's struggled with gathering himself and keep the ball high after pulling down a rebound, allowing himself to either get stripped by a guard or blocked by another big.
According to Beilein, that all has to do with balance and footwork.
"Small strides every day, just trying to play bigger and valuing the basketball," Beilein said. "Hitting singles. Catching the ball and putting it in, instead of trying to do too much with the ball.
"There's a slow and steady progress in practice, and we see glimpses of it now and then."
There's no doubting McGary's natural ability at this point. He's big, and agile, and his steal and breakaway slam against Northwestern proved he's rather athletic for a player his size.
He's just not completely polished yet.
And, right now, Michigan's OK with that.
"We're looking for small victories, footwork and balance," Beilein said. "When he does have issues, it's because he's going too fast or trying to do too much.
"We always say, become good before you become great -- take those baby steps."
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