The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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������ basketball recruiting Michigan Is Building Something Special O By Chris Balas n Nov. 3, Michigan coaches were set to learn their fate with Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy big man Mitch McGary. The 6-10, 250-pounder,���s No.��3 player overall nationally, had narrowed his list to three schools (Michigan, Duke and Florida), visited Ann Arbor more than either of his other finalists and had nothing but great experiences on his trips. He celebrated next to former Chesterton (Ind.) teammate and current U-M captain Zack Novak at the Western Michigan football game in September, shared campus tours with his parents and checked out plans of Michigan���s new Player Development Center and the Crisler Arena renovation project. It was enough to put the Wolverines at least in McGary���s top group, and some analysts suggested Michigan might even be the team to beat for the elite talent. McGary shut things down and spent time with family to discuss his options in early October, overwhelmed by the process, but set an early November decision date and is ready to end the process. ���It���s been really stressful and, at times, it���s been hard on my family,��� McGary wrote on his blog. ���I love Maryland, but I just don���t think that it���s the best fit for me, and I���m still looking at North Carolina, but I don���t really know what���s going on with their scholarship situation after their latest commitments. ���Obviously, I���ve got some great options, but [late October] I���ll really be doing a lot of thinking about what the perfect situation for me will be.��� McGary insisted he still didn���t know what he was going to do at the time, but word later surfaced that he���d announce on Nov. 3 on ESPNU. Head coach John Beilein and his staff have been as diligent as any in the country in recruiting the big man over the last few years, and they���ve gotten plenty of help from Novak, who crossed paths with McGary for a short time at Chesterton ��� enough 94��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 Michigan was in the final three, along with Duke and Florida, for 6-10, 250-pound Mitch McGary,���s No. 3 player in the nation. McGary planned to announce his decision on ESPNU Nov. 3. photo courtesy time to earn his respect. In fact, the Wolverines��� staff has been so active on the recruiting trail not just with McGary but with other top prospects, as well, that the buzz around the Michigan program has reached heights not seen since the 1990s. Coupled with last year���s outstanding finish and run to the NCAA Tournament���s third round, where U���M lost a heartbreaker to Duke, the Wolverines are potentially on the verge of fielding one of the nation���s better teams. ���You get the feeling, now, that Michigan can recruit nationally against the elite schools,��� analyst Jerry Meyer said Oct.��31. ���Coach Beilein is recognized as a coach that can make players better. That���s a huge selling point. ���There���s a rich history there, too. I don���t know if I hear Michigan���s name more than I have in the past, because they���ve always been around, but there���s a sense out there ��� I���d call it a buzz now ��� that Michigan is on the upswing. Kids know they can go and get better there, and that the coaching staff will develop their skills.��� That was what Beilein envisioned when he took the job five years ago, and he and his staff have worked hard to make it a reality. He fought for the facilities improvements, at one point saying (paraphrasing), ���We���ve got the best in so many other areas at Michigan. We should strive to have the best in basketball, too.��� With the Player Development Center only weeks from completion and continued renovations on tap for Crisler Arena ��� it already looks like a new arena on the interior and will be one of the conference���s top venues when the concourses are expanded in the last phase ��� the facilities are no longer a weakness, but a strength. Michigan hasn���t spared any expense in upgrading all its athletic campus, starting with the cathedral that is Michigan Stadium. The results have created a ripple effect, assistant coach Jeff Meyer said in early October. ���I was told when I first walked in, when football really gets it going, basketball will benefit from that,��� Meyer said. ���I think that���s happened this year in a very real way. The football program carried winning momentum through September. ���But a lot of the basketball buzz really originated by winning eight of the last 10 games last year when the kids had their backs to the wall. Game after game they made big shots, and they redefined what Michigan basketball was all about. We had a gritty group, a tough group ��� a group that wouldn���t quit in the Duke game even when they were down 15 points. ���That���s where I���ve seen the jump made. The kids we have right now are high achieving kids who love to compete, understand the culture of the team and the importance of a teamfirst attitude.��� So, too, do the players who have committed but have yet to arrive, and what a group it is. McGary would be the gem of the class should he commit, but the future is very bright, regardless. The class of 2011 freshmen ��� guards Carlton Brundidge and Trey Burke, and big man Max Bielfeldt ��� are already showing signs that they���ll be contributors, sooner than later for a couple. Beilein���s ability to identify early talent, meanwhile, was never more

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