In his debut with the Michigan basketball team, freshman swingman Lester Abram spent the first half trying to find his shot. But after the Pontiac native stopped pressing and knocked down a few baskets, it was obvious he belonged on the court.
“In the first half I was looking for my shot,” Abram said. “In the second half, I let the shots come to me, that’s how I got better shots in the second half.”
While many speculated that a freshman would start at center, Abram started at the shooting guard position, where the Wolverines have significant depth with senior captain Gavin Groniger and sophomore Dommanic Ingerson. Abram logged 29 minutes for Michigan, second only to junior Bernard Robinson, who tallied 33 minutes in the exhibition.
“I didn’t expect to get all the minutes but I expected to play a lot,” Abram said. “I expect to have a big role on this team.”
Abram proved he could fill that role, scoring 13 points in the game. The freshman slasher was able to drive to the basket and get himself to the foul line as well, where he was a perfect 6-for-6.
Michigan was second in the conference in free-throw shooting last year and much of that was due to the importance placed on foul shots by coach Tommy Amaker.
“We work real hard on our free throws in practice,” Abram said. “That’s one of the things coach stresses.”
Another element the team works hard on in practice is rebounding. Abram’s seven defensive boards tied senior LaVell Blanchard for tops on the team, but overall the Wolverines were out-rebounded and the practice did not seem to pay off.
“We practice that a lot in practice, boxing out, then it seemed like, when the game was going on, we just forgot to box out,” Abram said. “I was frustrated a little bit because we worked on it so hard.
“When you come into the game and don’t do it, what’s the purpose of even working on it in practice? You’re just working on it for no reason. If you aren’t going to do it in a real game, then there’s no purpose in doing it any way.”
Abram’s play was for the most part exemplary, but he would be the first to point out some of the mistakes he made in his first action as a Wolverine.
“I had a couple of defensive lapses where I let my man get past me when I shouldn’t have,” Abram said. “I had a couple of turnovers I shouldn’t have had, but other than that I played pretty well I think.”
Fortunately for Amaker, he not only has young talent like Abram on his team, but he also has the experience of players like Blanchard. After one of Abram’s defensive lapses, Blanchard went over to the freshman to help him get the matchups the team was looking for.
“I try to focus on helping guys,” Blanchard said. “I know when I was a freshman, guys tried to help me.”