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December 06, 2005 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-06

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, December 6, 2005
No matter number, Abram produces

By Scott Bell
Daily Sports Writer
When Michigan lost wing Lester Abram for the year
just three games into last season, the Wolverines knew
it would be a long season. Though the now-infamous
chain of events that followed demoralized Michigan
fans, there was a bigger concern on the players' minds.
When would No. 2 return to the lineup?
Much to the surprise of the Wolverine faithful, No.
2 has yet to return. But that doesn't mean Abram isn't
back - and he has returned not only to the game, but
also to his roots.
"I've been wearing (No. 32) my whole life before I
got to Michigan, so it felt weird not to have it," Abram
said. "It's just a unique number. A lot of good people
had this number, so I just always liked the number."
After the graduation of fifth-year senior J.C.
Mathis last season, the Pontiac native was able to
regain his high school number. But Abram - the
team's leading scorer during the 2003-04 season
- didn't plan on having to fight for the number
in the first place.
"I was supposed to have (No. 32) when I first got
here," said Abram, whose number was taken by for-
mer Wolverine Chuck Bailey when Abram first came
to Michigan. "(Assistant coach Chuck) Swenson
didn't come through for me. He didn't get me the
But after donning No. 2 for his first three years at

Michigan, the second-year captain finally got the num-
ber he was originally promised.
And just like in high school when he originally wore
No. 32, Abram is once again slashing through oppos-
ing defenses to begin the season.
Abram won back-to-back state titles at Pontiac
Northern during his final two years of high school.
During his senior season, he averaged 22.7 points and
10.8 rebounds en route to finishing in third place for the
stat's Mr. Basketball award, won by current Michigan
State star Paul Davis.
Upon arriving in Ann Arbor, Abram didn't miss a
beat. He started all but two games during his freshman
season and has averaged double figures in each of his
two years of play. Because he suffered a season-ending
shoulder injury last year, Abram was granted a medical
redshirt, giving him an extra year in Ann Arbor and
guaranteeing him two more years.
With the possibility of re-aggravating the injury,
many were afraid that Abram would return with a
more tentative attitude. But the transition has been as
smooth as could be expected.
"I've been playing a lot of minutes," Abram said.
"So it's been easy to get adjusted. I've been playing
like 30 minutes a game, soI didn't have a choice but to
hurry up and get back."
Abram averaged more than 33 minutes per game in
his first four contests, and he was the only Wolverine to
record double figures in each of those games. Although
Abram struggled - he went 0-for-5 from the field

- against Notre Dame on Saturday, he came through
when he was called upon. His two free throws with 1.9
seconds left gave Michigan a two-possession lead and
put the game out of reach.
"He is a winner, (and) he's going to make win-
ning plays," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker
said. "It was an afternoon where he didn't score
as much, but he didn't force things. He stayed
within our team concept and played our brand
of basketball."
The biggest change in Abram - who is third
on the team with a scoring average of 12.4 -
may be his aggressiveness. He relied on the 3-
pointer more in years past - over 30 percent of
his field goals his sophomore year came from
behind the arc - but this year he has shown
more aggression on the fast break and driving
to the hoop. As a result, Abram has found him-
self at the line more and more this season. All
four of his points on Saturday came from the
free throw line, where he was a perfect 4-for-4.
Abram stands 18-for-21 on the season from the
charity stripe.
So whether he's shooting the 3-pointer or slash-
ing to the hoop - or whether he's wearing No. 2
or No. 32 - one constant remains: The team is
better with Abram in the lineup.
An Abram-less Wolverine team finished 13-18 last
season. With Abram back, Michigan boasts its first 5-0
start in the Amaker era.

A healthy Lester Abram - who switched to jersey No. 32- has been a key to Michigan's 50 start.

Offensive changes aid Wolverines

By Ian Robinson
Daily Sports Writer
Putting together back-to-back wins has eluded
the Michigan women's basketball team for more
than a year.
But tonight at Crisler Arena, the Wolverines (3-
4) will attempt to achieve that mark of
consistency for the first time since last
November, hosting the University of TOT
Maryland Eastern Shore (1-2) at 7 p.m.
In Saturday afternoon's 68-60 victo- MarylandF
ry over Maine, Michigan coach Cheryl
Burnett utilized her most experienced Mi
starting lineup of the season. 71
The starting five of junior Kelly Crisl
Helvey, sophomores Ta'Shia Walker, -
Janelle Cooper and Krista Clement
and freshman Carly Benson averaged
35 minutes of action against the Black Bears.
"The group was doing such a great job, and, when
we were substituting, we started making some of
those errors," Burnett said.
When the starting lineup was on the floor, Michi-
gan had an eight-point advantage over its opposition
- equal to the margin of victory.


Clement attributed this increased offensive effi-
ciency to the veteran lineup.
"We have been playing together longer than most
of the team," Clement said. "I know where (my
teammates) are going to be."
In many of Michigan's early-season games, the
team was susceptible to committing turnovers when
playing against a zone defense. The
Black Bears were no different, using
IGHT a variety of defensive looks to keep
the Wol- verines off balance.
astern Shore "We tried different things, and this
at group today did a great job because
higan they changed defenses so much,"
.M. Burnett said.
r Arena The Michigan offense was able to
respond to these different defenses
by adding new wrinkles to its zone
offense, which the team would not
specify. Clement said she believes these adjust-
ments made her teammates more aggressive and
The Wolverines are going to need all the con-
fidence and offensive aggression that they can get
tonight against the Lady Hawks' zone defense.
Following UMES's last game - a 60-53 defeat

to Temple - Temple coach Dawn Staley praised
the Lady Hawks' zone defense.
"Every team has played a zone against us in the
last five games," Staley said to UMES media rela-
tions after their last game. "And no one has played
us that well with a zone."
In fact, the Wolverines and Lady Hawks have
each played Temple in this early season.
Michigan opened its schedule this year against
the Owls with a 65-48 loss in the opening round
of the Women in Sports Foundation Challenge in
Eugene, Ore.
Temple opened the game with a 25-9 run and
the Wolverines committed 15 first-half turnovers.
Michigan turned things around in the second half
to trim the margin to eight with more than three
minutes remaining, but it couldn't get any closer.
The Lady Hawks played a much closer game
against the 18th-ranked Owls. After facing a 13-
point deficit early in the second half, UMES cut the
Owls' lead to three with 35 seconds remaining, but
Temple converted four of its five free throw attempts
to seal the victory.
Tonight, as in Michigan's last few games, its abil-
ity to score against a zone defense will be crucial to
attaining consecutive victories.

Junior Kelly Helvey (32) was a member of Michigan's relatively experienced lineup on


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Braylon Edwards went down with a torn ACL on Sunday. He'll miss the rest of the year.
Edwards injured,
sees end of season

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Browns
rookie wide receiver and former
Michigan standout Braylon Edwards
will miss the rest of the season with
a torn knee ligament, yet another
setback for one of Cleveland's first-
round draft picks.
Edwards, the No. 3 overall selection
in last year's NFL draft, tore the anterior
cruciate ligament in his right knee while
trying to make a leaping catch in the
fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-14 loss to
the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Edwards's knee buckled awkwardly to
the inside after he landed stiff-legged on
the incompletion.
"I knew right away," Edwards said
after hobbling into the Browns' locker
room yesterday on crutches. "To be
honest, I hoped for the best. I prayed
right away. But I knew as soon as I
landed it was bad. I heard it buckle. I
heard it crumble."
Edwards, who has had an inconsistent
first season, had caught two touchdown
passes from fellow rookie Charlie Frye
before getting hurt. He finished the season
with 32 catches for 512 yards and three
Coach Romeo Crennel said surgery
has not been scheduled because doctors
are waiting for the swelling in Edwards's
knee to subside. Players with similar inju-
ries typically need eight to 12 months of

rehab to recover.
"They told me it's usually a nine-month
period," Edwards said. "They told me the
highest month. Some people come back
faster and some people come back right at
nine months. It all depends on dedication.
I've seen a lot of them."
Edwards expects to be ready when the
Browns open the 2006 season.
"Definitely," he said. "Opening day
next year, I'll be a guy on the field. I think
I'll be ready full-speed ahead."
Since the Browns rejoined the NFL in
1999, their top picks have either been busts
or injured. Of the seven picks, only center
Jeff Faine (2003) is starting for the team.
Last season, tight end Kellen Winslow,
the club's top pick in 2004, broke his leg
in week two. He missed this entire sea-
son after tearing his ACL in a motorcycle
accident and was on the sideline for the
first time on Sunday.
Edwards said he was aware of the
bad luck that has seemingly haunted the
Browns' class of top picks.
"I know I shouldn't, but I was online
reading some things and I just saw how
all the first-rounds have been busts," he
said. "I don't see that. I don't think we can
control getting hurt. It's not one of those
things where I said, 'Let me go out here
and tear my ACL.' We sell out.
"We do everything we can for the orga-
nization, but freak things happen."


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