McGary vs Morgan. Who do you start?

Submitted by robbyt003 on January 22nd, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Besides the 2014 fake commitment of Rodney Davis, there's not much going on today.  Sooo I figured I'd compare Morgan and McGary's play during conference games.


01/03 at Northwestern.

21 MIN. 6/8 FG. 12 pts. 13 reb. 0 blk. 0 stl. 1 PF. 3 TO

01/06 vs Iowa.

14 MIN. 2/3 FG. 4 pts. 2 reb. 0 blk. 0 stl. 4 PF. 1 TO.

01/09 vs Nebraska.

23 MIN. 0/1 FG. 0 pts. 11 reb. 0 blk. 0 stl. 1 PF. 1 TO.

01/13 @ Ohio.

22 MIN. 2/2 FG. 5 pts. 6 reb. 0 blk. 0 stl. 0 PF. 2 TO.

01/17 @ Minnesota

20 MIN. 4/6 FG. 9 pts. 4 reb. 0 blk. 1 stl. 2 PF. 1 TO.


20 MIN. 70% FG. 6 pts. 7.2 reb. 0 blk. .2 stl. 1.6 PF. 1.6 TO.


01/03 at Northwestern.

20 MIN. 1/4 FG. 4 pts. 8 reb. 1 blk. 2 stl. 3 PF. 1 TO.

01/06 vs Iowa.

20 MIN. 2/2 FG. 5 pts. 11 reb. 3 blk. 0 stl. 2 PF. 0 TO.

01/09 vs Nebraska.

18 MIN. 1/4 FG. 2 pts. 6 reb. 1 blk. 1 stl. 3 PF. 0 TO.

01/13 @ Ohio.

18 MIN. 3/3 FG. 6 pts. 3 reb. 2 blk. 0 stl. 3 PF. 1 TO.

01/17 @ Minnesota

20 MIN. 4/5 FG. 8 pts. 2 reb. 1 blk. 3 stl. 4 PF. 1 TO.


19.2 MIN. 61% FG. 5 pts. 6 reb. 1.6 blk. 1.2 stl. 3 PF. .6 TO.

My Thoughts

As McGary continues to get in better shape and avoids the stupid fouls, it's going to be hard to keep him off the floor.  There are so many other things that he does that you don't see on the stat sheet.  As the year goes on, I would not be surprised to see him moved into the starting five.  For now though, I do think it should continue to be Morgan.  



January 22nd, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

I keep McGary coming off the bench.  He brings some energy and life to the "second unit" that probably wouldn't be there if it were Morgan taking those bench minutes.  You need a spark coming off the bench, and I don't know where else that spark would come from.


January 22nd, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

Also, in the absence of a clear need for the younger player, you give the more experienced player the starting nod (and recognition) to show the value you put on the extra time they've put in and commitment they've demonstrated. 

I think coach Beilein is doing so many things right in this regard.  When players have left early, he's supported them in their decisions but when players have stayed they've been rewarded for learning and contributing to the system.  There's a place on a Beilein team for both, which sends a great message to all sorts of recruits.


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:38 AM ^

I vote Morgan all the way. While McGary has the higher percentages at blocks and steals, I think Morgan plays much better all-around defense. McGary is more of a high-risk, high-reward defensive player and is still lacking in certain fundamentals.


The stat I'd like to see (did UMHoops put this up at some point?) is the field goal percentage of the players each of them are guarding.


January 22nd, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

Here's the umhoops article.…

And it shows what you detail, with the caveat that individual defensive stats are hard to quantify without extensive film work. In one on one situations, Morgan's giving up about .6 PPP and a 33% eFG rate, while McG's giving up just less than 1 PPP and a 55% eFG rate.

Morgan just appears to be a significantly more effective post defender, according to the numbers. That'll be key against MSU, less important in other games, but coaches do seem to emphasize going inside early in the halves, and the differences seem pronounced enough that I don't know what you gain by starting McG.


January 22nd, 2013 at 2:12 PM ^

I also think that McGary's block numbers will suffer as he gets the fouls under control. Beilein sometimes tells the young bigs to keep two hands straight up to avoid fouls after somebody gets a foul called for only having one hand up or for swatting, whereas more than one of McGary's recent blocks have come from swatting at the ball.


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 AM ^

McGary is still pretty raw on defense.  He's a better shot blocker, but lacks understanding when it comes to help side defense.  He also tends to get stuck in the paint a lot on offense as evidence by a few 3 seconds calls.  I love his energy off the bench and provides a nice spark. 6th man of the year??

Blue boy johnson

January 22nd, 2013 at 1:44 PM ^

McGary has 2  three second violations in 18 games. Not a big deal.

When a Big like McGary has great rebounding position  (like he did on his last 3 second violation), the last thing they want a guard to do is dick around with the ball. Shoot the damn thing; don't get too cute. You will either make the shot, or, if you miss, the Big has a very good shot at an offensive rebound and maybe even an easy put back.

Here is a good example, and a good nostalgic one at that, of taking a shot ant letting your big fella clean up after you. If you go to the 1:55 mark of this video, Jalen takes a so so shot against the Buckeyes but CWebb abuses Funderburk at the rim and turns Jalen's missed shot into an easy deuce. Webber would have been pissed if he works hard for the inside position and Jalen declines the contested jumper.


Blue boy johnson

January 22nd, 2013 at 2:20 PM ^

I don't think so. Webber already had great position, and when he saw Jalen ready to shoot, Webber upped the ante and transformed his great position  to unassailable position by rendering Funderburke completely irrelevant with sheer overpowering lower body strength.

EDIT: IIRC Jalen had already told Webber he was going to shoot and told Chris to be ready in the off chance that he would miss.


January 22nd, 2013 at 7:01 PM ^

has the biggest hands i have ever seen... i remember when he was freshman or sophmore either freepress or detnews had a picture of his hand print on the back page of the sport section with the measurments. from the tip of his middle finger to bottom of his palm it was like 12" and from the tip of his pinky to the tip of his thumb it was like 11"


January 22nd, 2013 at 3:05 PM ^

When you watch this video, it reminds you that neither of our bigs are Chris Webber. Watch his hands and watch the athleticism that he has to go up and dunk when he gets it under the basket. Jalen knows that if he misses, it's still 2 points. Mitch isn't quite there yet. I love what both of our bigs bring to the table but Webber was a once in a lifteime sort of talent  so I don't know if the comparison here holds up.

Lucky Socks

January 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

It's a Smith vs. Kaepernick type thing.  Even it's safe to presume Kaepernick has always been the better talent, he had to wait his turn.  In this case, I think that Morgan still does plenty of things better than McGary.  And unlinke the NFL -- we can play two big men with ease.  


Let Morgan keep his starting job.  He hasn't done anything to lose it.  Play them both and ride the hot hand based on their different skill sets.  As my old coach used to say, it's not about who starts -- it's about who finishes. And I hope Blake McLimans finishes most games.  


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:45 AM ^

Mcgary will be better in the long run, but i cringe everytime i see Morgan handle the ball for more than 2 seconds.. he has the worst hands.. if it isn't a quick pass from burke for a layup he turns it over

Space Coyote

January 22nd, 2013 at 10:47 AM ^

But McGary makes more sense coming off the bench. He is a high energy player that can give you a spark when your team doesn't have one. I don't think Morgan is that type of player. You also don't know how Morgan would react to coming off the bench.

I think both bring a lot of similarities, but I think Morgan may help Burke and Hardaway on offense a bit more, and those stats don't show up. It's also nice to not have three freshman starting when you're on the road in the Big Ten. Split them up a bit, IMO.


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:48 AM ^

Morgan should remain the starter.  Both he and McGary seem comfortable in their roles. 

And by the way, the talent and atheleticism infusion on this team has been staggering.  Morgan is a 3 year starter and many would say he is the weakpoint in the lineup.  I don't think any of the guys who transfered last year would get minutes on this team.  And with the classes we have coming in it's going to continue.  Gone are the days of 6'4 power forwards and undersized teams. 


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 AM ^

As long as you're playing well, I wouldn't rock the boat with changing too much since the stats are so close. Mitch is contributing in his reserve role, and we don't know that Morgan would do the same. If Mitch elevates his game to far above Morgan, then you make a move


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:50 AM ^

Keep with the current system- McGary off the bench, but keep giving him more minutes. Makes sense to have McGary in for Morgan when LeVert spells Hardaway. Hardaway is a much better rebounder than LeVert, so McGary's better rebounding over Morgan is needed.

Naked Bootlegger

January 22nd, 2013 at 10:53 AM ^

Combined, they're averaging 11 pts, 13.2 reb.   As long as they keep this type of production going forward, I don't care who starts.  They're essentially splitting minutes, so it's a wash to me.   My sense is that McGary is still rounding into shape, so I don't know if you can bump his minutes dramatically without paying some sort of performance penalty.   A healthy Horford mitigates this situation and allows for more flexibility to play two bigs simultaneously when match-ups dictate this type of line-up.    I haven't been this excited about our bigs since the days of Hunter, Brown, and Ba.


January 22nd, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

It'll be interesting to see what Belein does against MSU, which likes to play Payne and Nix together. So far, he's been really reluctant to play two bigs, I think because he fears it screws up the offensive spacing (this also makes it hard to find minutes for Horford). You certainly can't argue with the offensive results, given that we're first in the nation in offensive productivity.

Naked Bootlegger

January 22nd, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^

This is one game where we'll probably see 45 or more combined minutes from Morgan, McGary, and Horford.   Although, GR III playing the "4" position creates a nightmare matchup for Payne, and it keeps Payne away from the lane if GR III is lingering outside or constantly moving like he often does in our offensive sets.   


January 22nd, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

I think we'll only see 2 bigs for extended time if GRIII gets in deep foul trouble or is just getting beat up by whichever MSU big he's guarding. Belein seems to really like the space that playing one mobile, screen setting big opens up. I think your last sentence points to the way that Belein sees it, by putting opposing bigs in unfamiliar and uncomfortable defensive positions, Michigan gains more on the offensive end than they lose on the defensive side.


January 22nd, 2013 at 10:56 AM ^

Although I think McGary will start eventually, having them share playing time seems like a great formula right now, especially since they both have fouling issues at times. And I don't know if Morgan worries about a freshman taking his spot or what, but he seems to play a lot better after McGary has had a few minutes on the court.  T  


January 22nd, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

Your stats do not show it, but Morgan's opponents shoot a significantly lower percentage than McGary's do.  Defense is not just about blocks and steals.  For now Morgan is still the guy who should start.


January 22nd, 2013 at 11:50 AM ^

You keep Morgan as the starter. He's a junior, an you don't want him to become disgruntled. McGary gives such a burst of energy off the bench. Plus, in a big game, really intense players can come out at the start a little too fired up and get in foul trouble early, especially aggressive defenders. I don't think Mitch would farewell starting at MSU for instance.

McGary overall is a lot more well rounded. They both run the break the same, but I think McGary finishes better (especially layups). Statistically Morgan appears to be a far superior defender but look at his blocks. He has zero during conference play. A guy in the middle whom teams fear just a little it adds a lot to the defense because McGary and his presence help on all drives regardless if he is making a play or not.


January 22nd, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

They both get an inordinate number of layup attempts blocked, but Morgan at least has some slippery moves to get around under the opposite side of the basket for a layup.  McGary elevates so poorly I get the sense we're going to see many more of his shots get blocked.  Maybe by next year, after extensive off-season weights and such, we'll see him go up and finish with more authority?  Would also love, love to seem him work on a little baby hook, because he establishes such great position down low.

Love 'em both.  Agree with the consensus: keep starting Morgan and bring in McGary for oomph/spark and such, and probably roughly equal total minutes.  


January 22nd, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

I opened this thread expecting most people to want McGary to start; I'm surprised to read through it and see that almost everyone wants to keep Morgan as the starter.  I did notice that many people used the reasoning "McGary is a spark plug for the 2nd unit", so I wonder if the OP had asked the question, "Who is the better player?" if that might change the results up to be more in McGary's favor.

I personally find Morgan to be more limited offensively and athletically than McGary, as Big Mitch seems to have a better handle and a better J.  And what sticks in my mind is, seemingly despite his great shooting percentage, all the relatively easy bunnies that Morgan misses.  I would like McGary to start and / or get more minutes than Morgan.

Also, all these "need a spark plug on the 2nd unit" arguments sort of make me cringe.  I'm a very stats-based guy, and while saying "Oh keep him on the bench, he provides a spark to the 2nd unit" certainly sounds great, is it really true or important?  I don't know for sure either way, I've never really looked into it, but I am hesitant to blindly accept the conventional wisdom, especially when it sounds like something a terrible color commentator would spout meaninglessly, without seeing some stats on if having a spark plug in the second unit is actually worth any points/possessions/wins.


January 22nd, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

Starting isn't the same as "who plays more".

Morgan is also a vastly better defender than McGary. The way we've been playing, I see no reason to mess with the rotation.


January 22nd, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

Keep Morgan in the starting lineup. To go with what everyone else is saying, Morgan is a better all around defender. I don't know if theres a better hedger on screens than Morgan, even in the B1G. That's what he does best. McGary still has a way to go with his defense, but his spark and energy off the bench cannot be matched.



January 22nd, 2013 at 12:36 PM ^

Getting McGary's minutes up is more important than whether he starts/ comes off the bench. I was particularly surprised that he didn't get more minutes in the Ohio game. It is possible that he is close to but not at 100% and that his minutes are being regulated. Whatever the reason, I hope his minutes go up during our run in March.