Video: Zack Novak talks Mitch McGary, Ben Cronin

This afternoon, senior Zack Novak met with the media to discuss everything from what the past four years have been like to what he plans on doing in the future. During the interview, Novak was asked about fellow Chesterton, Ind. native, five star big man Mitch McGary, who has signed to play with Michigan next season. In the second part of the video, Novak addresses what his relationship has been like with fellow senior Ben Cronin, who was forced to end his career early due to a hip injury. Here’s video of what he had to say about McGary and Cronin, followed by notes and quotes after the jump.


Novak noted how excited he was to see McGary in a Michigan jersey because he’s “known Mitch forever” and that he can carry the torch, so to speak. Novak recalled telling Beilein that he had to take a look at McGary early in his career and that he thought a big and talented player like McGary would be a great fit in Beilein’s system.

On the advice he gave McGary: “I told him the whole time, look, I obviously recruit for Michigan and I’ve helped get a lot of our guys here. But, we go back much farther than that. I’m not going to tell you to go into a bad situation. I know what’s at stake, your future. I’m not going to tell you to come here just because.”

On his thoughts on how McGary will fit into Michigan’s system: “You look at a guy like that, as big as he is, I think it’s no secret we could use the help on the boards. That’ll be huge. Big guys like that, it’s tough to guard someone who’s 6-11 and can shoot. He’s gonna get wide open. I don’t see why it wouldn’t fit his game. When you get a guy like that with talent and space, you’ll definitely benefit.”

On Cronin and when Novak first heard he was done for his career: “I remember the day vividly when coach told us. He called us over before practice. It was sad. Coach looked like he was about to cry. Ben was standing there next to him, and (Beilein said) Ben can’t play anymore, his career is over. First we were just kind of shocked like, what the hell is going on? There’s no way this can actually be happening. But at that time it was what he needed to do. It’ wasn’t worth not being able to walk when he gets older.

On how the injury has affected Cronin: “You can kind of tell, it’s always kind of ate at him a little bit. He’ll send us a text like, get this one for me boys, or wish I could be out there with you. And I’d just look at him – or I’d look up at him – and say, yeah I wish you were too.”

Stay tuned to more in the coming hours and days from Michigan’s senior captains, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass as well as more coverage of Michigan’s new Player Development Center.

  • MGoShoe

    What a poignant juxtaposition with Zach discussing Ben while he looms large in the background.

    • http://twitter.com/betheballdanny Rich Aquino

      I think Ben was getting digits in the background.

  • Kenny

    seems that Novak is confident that Mitch can hit open looks, and implies that Mitch can play 4 in Beilein’s system. A Morgan/McGary lineup might not be entirely impossible. 

    • DingoBlue

      He’s projected to Power Forward by most people I think, and that’s what I believe he has said he wants to play in the NBA (hopefully well down the line).  So yes, I’d say Morgan/McGary at 5/4 is possible.

      • Sven187

        Not to mention Bielfeldt mentioned in a recent newspaper article in the Springfield Journal Register that Coach is thinking about putting in a two post offense next season.

    • MGoTweeter

      that lineup is definitely possible.  The big question is whether or not they can defend with that lineup.  Beilein goes small at times because it creates matchup problems for the other team on defense, but most of the time he goes small it is because that is the best defensive lineup.  

      One of the biggest things that might help alleviate some of the potential defensive problems with McGary at the 4, is the 1-3-1.  Michigan has not really had the players to run it under Beilein, but with guys like Hardaway, Robinson, Stauskas and Irvin, Michigan will have long wings which are essential to being good at the 1-3-1 consistently.  

      • Kenny

        your concern on defense is legitimate, but we saw a lot of Morgan/Smotrysz this season and last season, especially early on. The question, in my mind, is whether McGary has enough parameter skills. 

        I agree with you that we might see more zone with 2 posts in defending smaller line-ups, maybe a mixing of 2-3 and 1-3-1. In 1-3-1, the 4 plays the baseline and have McGary there with his the high motor and blocking ability could be an advantage. 

        • rlcBlue

          In Beilein’s 1-3-1 the point guard plays the baseline - he has to cover both corners, which is much too far for a big to run. One of the reasons we haven’t played it much this year is that Burke is too vertically challenged to be effective against teams with much size in the low post. The 4 is usually on one side, the 5 in the middle, the 3 on the other side, and the 2 out on top.

          If Stauskas can bring the ball up okay, he would allow Beilein to throw a monster 1-3-1 playing, three point shooting lineup out there for several minutes a game. Not sure McGary would be part of it, though; more likely it would be used to give him and Morgan some rest while McLimans or Smotrycz played.

  • OldMan

    What a leader is Zack. He is going to be a leader when he is gone. How great is that?

  • Graham Brown

    “You can kind of tell, it’s always kind of aided him a little bit.”

    i think it “ate at him a little bit”

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      Whoops, missed that when I edited. 

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