You’re familiar with the story of Cinderella.

A fairy godmother comes along and voila! A pumpkin becomes an extravagant carriage, a bunch of mice turn into some stallions and coach drivers, and dirty rags transform into a beautiful dress. Oh yeah, and there are those glass slippers.

As long as Cinderella reached the dance before midnight, she was as good as gold.

Well, just eight games into this basketball season, midnight is approaching much faster than the Michigan men’s basketball team would have liked. And on Monday night, in front of a national television audience, the four horses that were supposed to carry this team to the dance became the mice they’ve been accused of being all along.

What’s it going to take to be a Tournament-caliber team? More work in the gym, for one thing. Following Michigan’s 66-54 win over Maryland-Baltimore County, Abram said the Wolverines just need to work on their shots.

Go to the gym and work on those shots. This was after a game when the Wolverines shot 46 percent.

On Monday night they shot 38 percent from the floor.

So it may take more than just working on shots in the gym.

It’ll take some mettle.

Michigan looked lost whenever there was a loose ball, and any time you have a chance to pick up one of those, it’s going to benefit your team.

North Carolina State won those battles Monday night. The Wolverines can’t allow Wofford to do the same tomorrow.

It’ll take smart play.

If an easy bucket off the transition isn’t there, slow it down and move around a little bit. Standing along the baseline and waiting for Dion Harris to shoot isn’t the best strategy.

Most importantly, it’s going to take discipline.

The Wolverines can talk all they want, but it doesn’t mean a thing if they don’t start proving it on the court.

Center Courtney Sims has to attack on a consistent basis.

Harris has to cut down his shots and distribute the ball.

Forward Brent Petway has to be economical with his minutes and be more than a dunking shot-blocker.

And Abram has to show the rest of us why his teammates voted him captain for three straight years.

But it’s still early in the season. Just because the carriage stalls now doesn’t mean it can’t reach the dance in time.

Fortunately, Michigan has a chance to get itself back on the right track tomorrow afternoon when it takes on Wofford. The competition won’t be easy (Wofford has a win at Cincinnati), but it may be just what a fairy godmother would give this Cinderella team, which needs to be challenged more before the Big Ten season begins.

Don’t let the Michigan name or the Big Ten Conference fool you.

In this age of parity in college basketball, the fact that the Wolverines haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1998 makes them an underdog, a long shot, a Cinderella. And after the Past few years of futility, you can’t help but cheer for Michigan the same way you cheer on the little fat kid who always finishes last in the 20-yard dash during field day.

It may be just the eighth game of the season but before you know it, March will roll around and it’ll be time to dance.

Hopefully Michigan comes to realize that sooner rather than later. Or else they’ll be the ones showing up late in a beat-up old pumpkin once again.

– Bosch can be reached at hectobos@umich.edu.

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