After suffering two losses in three games to open its Big Ten season, the Michigan men’s basketball team will have a chance to turn its fortunes around on the road against Illinois on Wednesday. The Fighting Illini are powered by seasoned veteran guards Malcolm Hill and Tracy Abrams, who lead the team in scoring with 18.8 and 10.9 points per game, respectively. Despite missing the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons after tearing his ACL and then his Achilles in back-to-back years, Abrams has come back strong and helped carry the load for Illinois.
The Michigan Daily sat down with Abrams at Big Ten Media Day in October to talk about his road back from injury and his excitement about returning to the court.
The Michigan Daily: How has your recovery from injury been, and how has the extended period of time off affected you as a player and as a person too?
Tracy Abrams: My rehab and stuff has been great. I’m pretty healthy right now. I can honestly say I’ve gotten stronger, I can run a little faster — I’ve improved overall — so it’s been a great experience for me so far. I’m definitely looking forward to the season, being out there and competing with my teammates. Right now we’re just building (and) trying to keep putting in hard work every day so it can translate to the court.
TMD: How excited are you to step back onto the floor to join your teammates again and compete at a high level on the college stage?
TA: I’m definitely, definitely, definitely excited to be back out there. Just using my experience and my leadership, most importantly, to help those guys out as well as them help me (and) just continue to grow. I think the sky’s the limit for our team so we just gotta have that mindset and put in that effort.
TMD: This is your sixth year of eligibility, so how do you think your vast experience at the collegiate level will help both you and the team this season?
TA: Just being out these last couple years, I was able to gain a different perspective. Learning my teammates, learning the game a little bit better, so I think just using what I’ve learned. And if I can translate that to the court, just knowing my teammates and their strengths and stuff like that, it would definitely, definitely be helpful for our team. So I’m just trying to keep remembering all that stuff and taking it and giving it back.
TMD: How do you think you will be able to handle the balance between a master’s program and the rigors of being a student-athlete?
TA: One advantage with that is all my classes are online, so I wake up early and do that. That way I can have good balance, and when I go to practice, I don’t have to worry about schoolwork and stuff like that. It’s going pretty well. I’m in my second master’s program right now, so I would say I have a pretty good feel to how it works and what you have to do to be successful.