Alabama vs. Michigan
The Milk House, Orlando, FL
- Preventing fouls a must for Alabama. Just as I mentioned before the Florida State game that JaMychal Green had been great about staying out of foul trouble, he only managed to play 30 seconds in the final 10 minutes against the 'Noles because he was racking up the fouls instead of points. Sure, the officials seemed against him from the get go, including Doug Shows knowing Green had four when he called the final one on him with 4:45 remaining in the game. Alabama doesn't have the depth available to get in foul trouble on a nightly basis as they have so far in the Old Spice Classic. The same goes for tonight's game against Michigan, who has four guys of 6-10 or taller.
- Ben Eblen looks to be a project. After being used early on as a second option at point guard, it seems as if Eblen will have to be molded for most of this season and see little time in tense and tight moments. In the past three games, Eblen has seen a total of 12 minutes in the past three games against Providence, Baylor, and FSU. The minutes seem to be going to Anthony Brock and Andrew Steele, most of them to Brock. Eblen showed he could get the ball up the floor quickly, but still doesn't have a grasp on the game yet. This may all change by the time the SEC schedule rolls around with only two of Alabama's next eight games coming against high major teams. There should be plenty of time for Eblen to learn in the next month, but will it be enough to help out this season?
- Rebounding needs to be a priority. Alabama hasn't exactly struggled this season on the boards, but there should be a concerted effort to focus on rebounds Sunday. This does go hand-in-hand with keeping out of foul trouble, but it also means the perimeter players need to crash the lane. Alabama are going too many possessions with one shot chance, and in order to compete this season, that number will need to decrease. On the season, Alabama has been out-rebounded on the offensive boards. This may not be the Anthony Grant style (to crash the boards), but that would mean Alabama needs to make more shots fall.
- Don't let Manny be Manny. To put it plainly, Manny Harris is a beast of a player. The 6-5 junior from Detroit already has a triple-double to his name this season and was just one rebound away on Friday from posting his second one. Harris has averaged 21 points, 9.5 rebounds and seven assists on the season. He has been a one man wrecking crew during the Old Spice Classic and there is no reason to believe that will change tonight. He has been lethal from outside and inside, driving and dishing. He will no doubt be the target of Senario Hillman, but the Tide must stay home and rotate quickly in their defense if they want to keep the game close against a ranked opponent. Laval Lucas-Perry, shooting near 50% from downtown this season, will have the Tide's attention all game long as well.
- Alabama needs to play their game. Against Baylor, the Tide got the Bears to play their game. Against FSU, Alabama was the team adapting their style. In a game against Michigan, the Crimson Tide will need to play their way for 40 minutes even when Michigan goes on a run. The Wolverines have gone down early in both games so far and streaked back with a fierce rally both times. If Alabama gets ahead early, they will need to keep working to put UM away. If Michigan scores quickly, come down and set up the offense for a great shot. Even though Grant's offense aims to run the floor, a track meet with a top 15 team would not end well for the Crimson Tide. If Alabama rebounds well and continues their great defensive effort, they should find themselves in this game late with a chance to come away with the win.