With 13:55 remaining in the first half, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker looked down the bench and called for junior Lester Abram to enter the game. A small round of cheers began to spring up from the student section until the rest of the fans in the stands realized what was happening and joined in.
Abram saw his first action in four games. Unfortunately, it will be his last action for the rest of the season. He’s been sidelined with a shoulder injury from last season that he re-aggravated in Michigan’s Preseason NIT matchup against Colorado. Saturday’s test run proved unsuccessful when the Wolverines later learned that Abram would be lost for the season.
Abram was ineffective in his appearance. He failed to score any points and finished the game with just two rebounds in nine minutes of play.
But with Abram in the lineup, the Wolverines are 3-0. Without Abram, they’re 1-3.
“It was just great to have him back on the floor,” Amaker said before knowing Abram would be done for the season. “For our team to see him in uniform and have a presence out there for us was certainly probably worth it.”
Filling in: In Abram’s absence, Amaker has had to look deep down his bench to try and fill the void. Freshman Ron Coleman and sophomore John Andrews have played many of these minutes. Their performances Saturday may have boosted their stock in the eyes of Amaker, who will now be looking for a more permanent replacement for Abram.
While the young pair struggled early this season, each turned in his most productive performance of the year.
Coleman drained 11 points, the second most for the Wolverines behind guard Daniel Horton’s 15. Ten of those points came in the first half, while his single second half point came on a crucial free throw during the closing minutes of Michigan’s one-point victory.
Prior to Saturday, Coleman’s season total from the field was a paltry 3-of-22. But against Notre Dame, his game came together. He shot 4-for-5 and hit two 3-pointers.
“I’ve been feeling good about my shot, no matter if I miss it or make it,” Coleman said. “I’ve been missing shots, but I still know that I am a shooter and I can shoot.”
Andrews started the game in place of Abram and posted four points, two assists and two steals. But his most memorable stat may have been his lone rebound, which came in the first half.
Andrews soared in from behind a mass of big men on the offensive glass, snatched away the board, took one dribble and went back up for the putback, eliciting a considerable amount of cheers from the crowd.
“I like to contribute any way I can,” Andrews said. “And right now, Lester’s hurting. He’s a battler. He’s a warrior. So I’m just trying to keep his spot warm and do what I can to help the team.”