Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker announced yesterday that two of his captains will have to sit out for at least a portion of the season. Junior Lester Abram, Michigan’s Most Valuable Player last year, must undergo surgery on a nagging left-shoulder injury and will likely apply for a redshirt this season. Junior Graham Brown will sit out for four to six weeks after hernia surgery, which is tentatively set for tomorrow.

Abram sustained an injury to his shooting shoulder while going up for a rebound in last year’s Big Ten Tournament during Michigan’s 79-70 toppling of Iowa. He doubled over in pain and temporarily took to the bench. He returned moments later and shot 8-for-8 from the free throw line down the stretch of the game. After that, however, Abram did not return to the floor until four games later in the NIT semifinal against Oregon.

The injury did not seem serious enough to warrant surgery, so Abram began this season as a starter and played in every game until Michigan played Sacramento State.

He took the court again on Saturday against Notre Dame after missing four games, and although he did not contribute much in terms of stats, his presence seemed to have a calming effect on the Wolverines. It looked like Abram might slowly return to his prominent role on the floor. Several of his teammates were happy to see him back.

“It felt great when he got up to check in and the crowd was cheering for him,” sophomore John Andrews said of Abram’s temporary return. “It was nice to see him out there.”

But now the team will be without the spark of one of its most dynamic players.

“After following the procedures provided by our team doctors and medical community, we have been advised that surgery is now in Lester’s best interest,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said yesterday in a statement. “We will certainly do everything we can for Lester and his family throughout this upcoming surgery and rehabilitation process.”

Filling the void created by Abram’s absence will be no small task for the Wolverines. He has averaged 11.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his career at Michigan.

Brown already underwent surgery last summer for the same injury, but it has persisted and requires that he have the operation once again.

“Our medical staff advised us that surgery is the best option for Graham at this time,” Amaker said.

Although Brown’s time off the court is temporary, it comes at a relatively critical time for the Wolverines. He will miss several non-conference matchups at home, and could potentially sit out Michigan’s Big Ten opener against Iowa.

Brown has averaged 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds during his career at Michigan.

This team has not had to deal extensively with injuries in the past few years, with the exception of junior Chris Hunter’s lingering, but not debilitating, knee trouble. Hunter missed three games last season after re-twisting his knee in a regular-season game against Penn State last season.


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