Three keys vs. Alabama A&M 

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
8:48
PM ET
No. 18 Michigan tips off with Alabama A&M Saturday in one of its final Big Ten tuneup games. The Wolverines are off to a strong 8-2 start and have yet to drop a game in Crisler Arena. The Bulldogs haven’t experienced that kind of success this season. They’ve gone 0-3 on the road, and Ann Arbor is their third stop on an eight-road game swing.

Michigan should win Saturday, but here are three keys to making the game a postive step for the Wolverines:

Get Jordan Morgan comfortable inside. Alabama A&M doesn’t have a very strong inside presence. The Bulldogs’ starter at center, 6-foot-10 sophomore Jerome Hunter, averages only four points and four rebounds per game. It’d be good for the Wolverines to get the ball down low to Morgan, who could work on some in-game post moves. Hunter won’t mirror a Big Ten big man, but the more comfortable Morgan gets boxing out and putting moves on non-conference guys, the better he should look when the Big Ten slate starts. The Wolverines will desperately need his inside presence. Don’t get injured. Whenever a team like Michigan is playing its pre-conference schedule, there’s always the fear that some fluke injury happens. When sophomore Tim Hardaway Jr. injured his tailbone against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, there was a collective gasp from the Wolverines’ fans, but Michigan coach John Beilein said Hardaway would be fine. Often, injuries happen when a player is less intense than normal, because his body isn’t used to that slower speed. The Wolverines can’t afford to lose any of their starters to injury in tuneup games.

Hit some outside shots. Junior guard Matt Vogrich, who has recently become Beilein’s sixth man, heated up against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, hitting three 3-pointers. Beilein would like to see senior guard Stu Douglass, who had mild success from range against Oakland, step into that mix as well. The Bulldogs are giving up 75 points a game. Vogrich needs to use this game to continue his shooting streak, whereas Douglass needs to use it to find his stroke. If both can look more reliable during the final two games before the conference schedule, opposing teams will have a much more difficult time planning for the Wolverines.
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