How to Interpret this McGary Interview?

Submitted by GrowBlue on October 28th, 2013 at 9:25 AM

I haven't seen this MaizeAndBlueNews interview discussed here.


Sorry to be negative on Monday morning, but I'm finding it a bit hard to be optimistic about his back 'condition'. Beilein tends to be much more open about things than Hoke, and he is being quite vague on this topic. In the video I linked, McGary is asked 'When was the last time that you were able to play basketball full-go?', and after a very long pause, while looking off camera to someone on his left, he responds 'I don't feel comfortable answering that.'

Talk me off a ledge?

Perhaps this is all blown out of proportion - hopefully he plays tomorrow and allays all my fears ;)



October 28th, 2013 at 9:40 AM ^

That said, if you want to be talked off a ledge of McGary not playing for some time, I'm not sure what to say.  I'm not a sports medicie expert, nor do I have any insider info.  He will play when he is cleared to.  As to how the lack of Mitch in the lineup will affect the team early on, we knew this nonconference schedule was going to be difficult.  I would think that we should hope for him to be back in the lineup by end of November, and definitely he should be back before B1G play starts.  If he is out that long, then it may likely be something much more serious.

That said, my own personal theory is that Beilein has concocted this back condition to force McGary to practice free-throws and nothing else.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:41 AM ^

not going to play tommorow.  You are not blowing this out of proportion.  The only thing I can say to take you off the ledge is that our basketball team is legit, and that it can be a top tier Big Ten team even if your worst fears are realized.  Of course, this being a really bad situation with McGary could take realistic Final Four-ish type expectations off the table, it will still be very formidable team no matter what.

Yes, it is vague and it is very cryptic, and nobody will say anything close to a positive thing about the "condition," and the more they refuse to refer to it is an injury the more I am concerned about him, the player and the kid.  Hopefully we will start to hear some encouraging things soon but I sure as hell have not heard them yet.


October 28th, 2013 at 11:10 AM ^

I don't think it is realistic for any college team, save Kentucky and maybe Kansas, to have Final Four expectations. The blessing and curse of the Tournament is it is one and done. Upsets happen and if they do you are done. This can work to your advantage and disadvantage but makes Final Four predictions, especially preseason, ripe for errors.

If we can get McGary back for Big Ten play and he progresses to where we want him to by the end of the season then we will have a fighting chance for another special year. If the non con is a little worse, say four losses, the committee may take McGary's absence into consideration if that actually happens and if it is shown we are a much better team with him in the lineup.

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 9:46 AM ^

And I think McGary will struggle putting up minutes until later in the year. Expect a lot of missed games/very limited minutes early.

That being said, McGary has been partly injured since he came out of high school (not even prep school). When's the last time he felt comfortable going full-go? The honest answer could be like 3-4 years ago. So it's hard to say to what extent to take that answer, but I do think this will be a nagging thing all year for the most part.

One thing you wonder is what affect this had on his decision to return. If this is something stemming from last year, if he only had the one run in the tournament and then NBA Scouts found out he had a back issue, that could really hurt his stock. Having a year of consistency despite the back issue could establish him as a mid-first rounder despite back issues.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:46 AM ^

To be completely honest, as much as Mitch means to our team, our front court depth is actually not all that bad...

I, for one, think Jon Horford could be outstanding this year, and if he wasn't plagued with injuries again last year, it wouldn't have surprised me if he started a lot of the games...

Morgan, Horford, Bielfeldt, and Donnal will definitely step up in his absence (if its even an absence)


October 28th, 2013 at 9:50 AM ^

lots of serviceable big men, but McGary is a different animal.  This team has enough depth down low that nobody is going to really own us inside but none of the options there other than McGary could establish an offensive post presence to really do anything other than the rebound put back type effort.  If McGary is full go, it is hard to imagine us not getting to at least he Elite 8.  Otherwise, the forecast is a little more cloudy.

Space Coyote

October 28th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

I think Michigan can get by without McGary, but it's one less option, one less weapon, one less person that needs to be accounted for by the whole defense. The other guys can do their job, but I'm not sure they can work outside of that, so it will force the rest of the team to step up more often and be more consistent, which can lose you a few games, especially with how young many of the other contributors are.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

were very high on Horford, including his outside shooting, even mentioned him as a go-to guy in crunch time, which--even if hyperbole--speaks to a big leap forward. They also said this will be the first time M fans have seen him in really good health, and that they thought people would be surprised. 

McGary brings a very special and creative skill set, and I am particularly eager to see what he does with Horford and/or Morgan on the court, too. But there may be real upside, taking the longer view, in Horford and Morgan building confidence early while McGary gets himself right. 


October 28th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

With him just playing we were just shy of a Big Ten championship team with the best player in the country on the squad. With him playing to his potential we were in the Final.  All you had to do was watch this team during the tournament to see the difference he makes compared to our other bigs.  And we needed that McGary because we won't have Burke to fall back on anymore.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:56 AM ^

Horford is too foul prone, Morgan is a liability on the offensive side of things, Max hasn't been tested enough and I just don't know enough about Donnal to have an informed opinion. Also, besides being more complete on both sides of the ball, Mitch brings an energy and a spark to the court that no one else can and that can't be replaced. If we're going to succeed without McGary (or without him at 100%) it will again have to be with our guards, not our big men.


October 28th, 2013 at 12:25 PM ^

Mitch was foul prone, but percentage wise for fouls per minute played, Horford is one of (if not)  themost foul prone player in the NCAA last year.  I absolutely love Horford, and was impressed how he got right to work when the team got back from the loss in the championship game.  But unless he drastically changes his style to get himself under control, he's not a very good longer term solution if we need a lot of minutes from another one of our bigs.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:49 AM ^

One consequence, if Mitch isn't ready to go, is that the transition of Robinson to the "3" will likely be delayed.  I don't see Morgan and Horford playing together often and don't expect either Donnal or Bielfeldt to step into the "4" for meaningful minutes--particularly as we are solid at the "2" and "3" otherwise.  Obviously, Robinson can handle the "4", but when McGary comes back, we may have a little later-than-wanted transitioning to do.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

is out extended time, our 5 will be Walton, Stauskus, GRIII, Morgan, Horford.  I don't think they can waste anymore time playing Robinson out of position.  He is going to be a deadly wing, and they need to get him out there as soon as possible.  They are going to platoon the 2 with Stauskus, Irving, and Levert.  It will bring Donnal and Bielfeldt well more in to play in terms of significant minutes, but I don't see an issue going Morgan/Horford twin towers especially with the offense our back court can bring. 


October 28th, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

There is no way that Stauskas, Irvin and Levert are only going to essentially share one position.  Irvin's skill-set alone will demand major playing time.  Morgan played limited minutes at the "4" last year--with Mitch at the "5".  I'm not sure Morgan and Horford were ever together on the floor--certainly not at a meaningful moment in a game.  And we've heard of Horford's supposed improved shooting skills in the past--I'll believe they will translate to real basketball when I see it.  Bear in mind, Beilein never likes to play two offensively-limited bigs--he wouldn't even play Sims at the "4" and he could shoot.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:18 AM ^

saying that you will not see two of those "2" guys on the floor at the same time, even for extended stretches, you will.  I just think GR is enough of a center peice that you just put him where he belongs and then build around him.  I think this team getting big in McGary's absence to essentially add a component that the team could really use, to get them comfortable with an entire different look they can throw at teams.  They could have used more muscle in the National Championship game last year when we getting abused on the boards in the second half.  I think it would be a good opportunity for JB to get out of his comfort zone a little and muscle teams around a little.

Vacuous Truth

October 28th, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

I see your point, but i really don't think you will see Morgan and Horford on the floor together on a consistent basis. They will likely platoon at the 5, with Robinson playing most of his minutes at the 4. If you're ever going to see 2 bigs out there, it might be Donnal at the 4 with Morgan/Horford if Donnal can play his way into substantial PT. The only way they will run any Morgon/Horford at 4/5 is if they want to practice the 2-big look in anticipation of McGary's return, but that will likely only happen in garbage minutes, not when the game is on the line.

Simply put, playing Horford/Morgan at the 4 directly takes minutes away from Stauskus or  Irvin, or Levert, which significantly diminishes the offense's shooting threat and ability to spread the floor. I do not think JB would want to do that in order to "muscle teams around a little."


October 28th, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

that GRIII will be able to play more "3' if Donnal can play the "4". I just don't see Donnal getting meaningful minutes--at least at the expense of Irvin (or Stauskas or Levert).  I'll be pleasantly surprised if Donnal is a significant factor this year.  He's a stretch "4" who will hopefully fill Beilein's ideal for that role--but more likely next year.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:47 AM ^

Two more points:

1.  I agree that Robinson is a "3" and that it would be great for him to play there for the most part.  It would also be fair to GRIII as he deferred going pro, at least in part, based upon that assumption.

2.  Whether or not your reasons for playing 2 Bigs are valid is really beside the point as that is simply not how Beilein has coached--ever.  I personally thought Beilein should have played Sims and Gibson together more often, but even on that limited team, he didn't.  Beilein wants his "4" (on the perimeter) to be able to put the ball on the floor.  He didn't trust Sims to do so.  I can't see him trusting either Morgan or Horford.  He does trust McGary.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:51 AM ^

In an effort to be optimisitic, I guess it's best that he's recovering from injury at the beginning of the season rather than the end.  This will also force others to step up their game (Morgan, Beilfeldt, Horford).


October 28th, 2013 at 10:03 AM ^

what I am worried about.  Discussion of the issue has just been in such somber tones and the described impact is so ambiguous that you really can't even tell what the hell they are talking about.  I would be much more optimistic if I heard "McGary with jacked up back, out 3-5 weeks" than I would this cryptic "condition" talk.  My spidey senses are telling me to be very cautious about what this is and what we should expect from here.


October 28th, 2013 at 9:59 AM ^

I just want McGary to get healthy. This team is March Madness bound and the end of the year is more important than playing at the beginning of the season.

This may be something they say over on RCMB on a daily basis.. but I think Stauskas is going to be disgusting this year. Watch out.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:04 AM ^

What I don't understand is the type of injury or condition that Mitch suffers from.  Many of us have sprained our backs and been miserable until it heals and the spasms go away, but that is a matter of a week or two, so I suspect there is more going on than that. 


October 28th, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

I could make a couple educated guesses based on Mitch's symptoms.   I know how I would go about treating a patient with his age, activities if he told me he couldn't participate in sport due to his symptoms.  However, without knowing Mitch's exat symptoms (all back pain, pain going down the leg, what aggravates his back pain on exam, any weakness in the legs) it would just be idle speculation.  Safe to say that this isn't a simple muscle strain, though, given that it would have healed given the timeline.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:10 AM ^

it is either stiffness (which usually comes with pain) or numbness.  My guess is on the later and while that can be treated and heal over time ,depending on the cause, its pretty hard to put a definitive timeline on recovery.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:14 AM ^

is that with advances in medicine, a guy like that could have an arthiscopic discectomy and be ready to play in weeks.   of course we don't know what the issue is with the back, but in my experience discs are what hang guys up (and nearly cost me a season of football) when talking about 99% of back problems. 

is there an MGO-Doc in the house? 


October 28th, 2013 at 10:14 AM ^

I have this feeling that we wont be seeing much of Mitch, except for big games, in the first half of the season.  Aside from Duke and 'Zona, I (hope) don't think we'll need him much until mid January.

From personal experience, I say that back pain is a bitch.  When it's at its worst, getting bumped with a force equivelant to a stiff wind could drop you to your knees.  I bet it's even worse for 6-10 20 year olds who are likely still growing to some effect.

Just keep doing that rehab.  I really hope it doesn't turn into a career threatener.  Mitch is one of those talents that you'd like to enjoy watching for at least another 10 years.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:23 AM ^


• He's just screwing with the reporter

• He's seriously injured/hobbled and will miss significant playing time until at least the conference schedule.

I'm guessing the latter.


October 28th, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

I think if you've decided that McGary not playing a lot this season is a sufficient ledge-jumping condition, then you're jumping.

It doesn't look good. At this point, I would be more surprised to see him play 90% of the season than I would to see him never play a game again. I think it could be that bad. I think the most likely situation is that his back never is fully healthy, he plays limited minutes in less than half the games this year, his stock never recovers, and his NBA career is brief and unspectacular. Sorry to be so negative. I hope I'm wrong, and I don't think it's a slam dunk that he won't play at a high level again. He very well could. But this is ominous to me.



October 28th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

and what is alarming is that it seems to be of a recently discovered variety, either in terms of occurence or diagnosis.  If it was even remotely close to being an issue he would have declared for the draft and got that check before it became a public issue.  "Sore back" isn't something that just sneaks up at you when you have as much at stake as he does, and his stock was high enough after the tournament that if there an existing conditioning that was worsening he would have gotten out of there while he still had a chance. 

Another possibility is the conspiracy option, which is that this is a punitive action toward Mitch for some conduct that could effect his image signficiantly if specified or an effort not to play somebody who may not be eligible for some reason or........ god [email protected]#king forbid, may  not have been at some point for some reason.  That would be particularly bad.  I am not saying it is the case, but he does not appear visibly injured and won't even refer to it is as injury.


October 28th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

trying to make sense of a situation that doesn't make any.  I am not saying that's accurate, not starting rumors or anything like that, this is not "my theory" but you have to admit, the circumstances here make you scratch your head a little bit.


October 28th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

can't he answer when the last time was that he was full go?  How would such a question make somebody look around for somebody to help answer before saying that he was  "uncomfortable" with the question? Why is he making a point to say he feels pretty good right now while saying that there is absolute no time table for his return while specifying certain things that he is not being "allowed" to do right now.

My eyebrows are hereby slightly raised, narrowed and titled into an unsure and confused position.


October 28th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

I don't remember that. Regardless, the following seems very plausible to me: he doesn't want to answer the question because he doesn't want - at this point, anyway - to tell potential future NBA employers how much time he's missed, especially if that time has been missed by erring very much on the side of caution. He likely doesn't know exactly where he is (see Beilein's "at some point you have to see what you can do" comment), but it appears that he feels good, so saying "I've been out for X weeks" could be misleading in a way the negatively affects people's perception of him. I would advise him not to get into it now if I were in his corner. Better to explain directly to NBA people after the year is out and give them all of the info at once.


October 28th, 2013 at 2:59 PM ^

you are right and that the injury is more serious than reported, again, what would be the point of under-stating it and, further, wouldn't the staff have prepped Mitch better to answer the question--not like it wasn't an expected question.  Too much cloak and dagger for me.  I'll continue to listen to updates from the coaches.


October 28th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

Would guess because you're not 6'10", and not repetitively extending your lumbar spine backwards while trying to box out or post up, and if you continue to let this go untreated, it can result in spinal instability, weakening of the disc annulus, subsequent disc herniation and/or spondylolisthesis.


October 28th, 2013 at 12:39 PM ^

When I see young athletes, I don't restrict activity for back pain, be it muscle or disc herniations (as long as there isn't weakness in a dermatomal pattern).  I DO restrict activity for back pain from an active pars defect, specifically out of sports for 6 weeks, wearing a back brace, otherwise, you can develop instability at that spinal segment that could result in a fusion.  Given that Mitch has essentially been held from practice for quite some time, I am inferring that he does not have a simple muscle strain, discogenic pain, but rather something more serious where his docs are sitting him.  :/


October 28th, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

I certainly don't blame the coaches for being cautious, but it does sound a little like McGary might not see much more than spot duty (if anything) to start the season anyway. Like others have said, however, we are deep enough that we should probably be OK regardless for some time, and hopefully enough time for McGary to get back to where he can play for extended periods. 

What is pretty cool, I think, and Bacari touches on it in his quotes, is that Mitch is helping out and brining energy despite being able to participate in full workouts. That can definitely have an impact and it is nice to see him taking a leadership role like that.