The Big Ten is going to be loaded in 2012-13, and the key to Michigan’s fate in the conference will be the performance of their two highly-anticipated freshmen, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Both will need to excel in order to help the Wolverines contend for the league title again, but which of the two prized recruits will make the bigger splash in Ann Arbor?
The knee-jerk answer would seem to be Robinson, and not just because of his NBA pedigree. The 6’6” swingman appears to have got a fair approximation of his father’s shooting stroke and athleticism, making him a very real scoring threat from anywhere on the floor.
In addition, Robinson’s fluidity on the perimeter makes him an ideal fit in coach John Beilein’s offense. Long, lean shooters (see Pittsnogle, Kevin) have routinely flourished under the Wolverines coach, and Robinson looks well-positioned to excel with standout PG Trey Burke setting him up.
However, the freshman who will really make Michigan frightening next season is the 6’10”, 225-pound McGary.
Like most of the Wolverines' current post options (and, for that matter, transfer departure Evan Smotrycz), McGary is a dangerous jump shooter in his own right. However, he brings other factors to the table that set him apart from the rest of Michigan's bigs.
McGary is a tremendously aggressive and physical rebounder, qualities that have often been lacking in recent Wolverine frontcourts. That same attacking mentality also makes him a dangerous finisher near the basket, something Burke will be sure to exploit on a regular basis.
In addition, the Wolverines already have two wonderful perimeter scorers in Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Therefore, while they’re hardly going to complain about having Robinson in the mix, he’s adding to a team strength. McGary transforms a frontcourt that got pushed around at times in 2011-12 into a group that will do some pushing of its own.
McGary also has a fair chance to outscore even the sharpshooting wings who will flank him. In addition to getting his own jump-shooting looks—and there will be plenty—McGary can clean up on the offensive glass when any of Burke, Hardaway or Robinson miss.
That extra source of points will keep the big man’s numbers elevated all season.
Glenn Robinson III fits beautifully into the mold of a John Beilein offensive weapon. Mitch McGary breaks that mold, and that’s why he will be the biggest first-year sensation in maize and blue in 2012-13.