The Michigan Wolverines have been without starting wing Lester Abram for the better part of the last five games, and now it appears that they will be without him for even longer. After a brief appearance in last Wednesday's road win at Penn State, the medical staff determined that Abram should be held out of further game action in favor of resuming his rehab regimen.
"I don't know if he did anything (to aggravate his ankle)," Amaker said regarding Abram's short stint in the game versus PSU. "He played for two minutes. We tried it out and he was hobbling, so we got him back out. Our decision was, after treatment, to see where he stood. We found that out, and it wasn't where we wanted him to be. Now we're back to going through rehab and treatment in dealing with his injury. It has been a severe ankle sprain. It's probably a little bit different than a normal sprain. The majority of the pain he is enduring is on the inside of the ankle. You usually think of an ankle sprain on the outer area. That's a bit of an unusual area for the ankle. It's just one of those things. I'm doubtful that he is even going to practice today. I think he is more along the lines of straight treatment. He is day to day, but I think it's unlikely that he'll play on Thursday. We've got him on a rigorous and strenuous rehab program. I think in order to do that you probably can't have all of that kind of treatment and then try to practice him. I think the strategy right now is to have a very aggressive treatment plan, and then come up for air at some point. I don't know what point that is, but we'll kind of see where we are…as we did before. That kind of was the plan. He practiced a little bit, we tried him in a game, and things weren't doing as well as we would have hoped."
In other injury news, Jerret Smith will most likely be available for action against Ohio State after suffering a concussion last week. "I took a knee to the head while going after a loose ball," Smith said. "The doctor said I wasn't going to be able to fly out on Friday for Saturday's game. I'm better now though. I'll definitely be ready Thursday."
Will the blowout loss linger?
The 28-point loss in Iowa City was obviously the Wolverines worst defeat of the year. Now as they prepare for their next game, their head coach is looking to see how his players bounce back. "Obviously I was disappointed in the way we played at various stretches of that game," Amaker said. "I thought those stretches really allowed them to blow the game open. I think it's important for us to keep things in perspective. We haven't played like that all year. I'm hopeful that it was one of those moments that was out of our hands a little bit during that stretch of time and that we can get back to the way we've been playing and be very competitive. We're going to have to be, looking at our schedule. But I'm anxious to see how our guys are going to be today. I'm quite confident, though, that having an older team, we'll respond in a positive way."
According to Michigan's senior floor leader, his coach's confidence is well placed. "We've been here before," Daniel Horton said. "We've had winning streaks, we've had losing streaks, and we've had blowout wins and blowout losses, so we've run the gauntlet of emotions. With this team I don't think it will be a problem for us responding to the way we played Saturday."
Co Big Ten Player of the Week, Je'Kel Foster
The Iowa Hawkeyes blitzed Michigan from deep Saturday, nailing 13/19 from behind the arc. Allowing that type of long range efficiency, (68.4% to be exact), has caused Amaker to worry as the showdown with the Buckeyes approaches.
"They are a team that has shot the three-pointer extremely well all year," Amaker said. "Certainly given what just happened to us in Iowa City, that has to be a major concern. They're old. If they start a certain lineup, they have four seniors in the lineup. Three of those four seniors are fifth-year seniors. This is an old strong basketball team. Then they have a guy in the low post that is a bear to defend. He is as good, as big, and as strong as anyone we'll play all year. So they have an interior force there, and they surround him with an outstanding display of shooting from their team this year. They are shooting right around 41% from three-point range, so I'm really concerned with their ability to score in and out."
Michigan still in the top 25
Despite the double-digit road loss Saturday, the Wolverines maintained their status as a ranked team, falling to 22 in both polls. Amaker indicated that there are a few very good reasons for that. "I think some other people lost in that area where we were located," he said. "I think that probably factored in somewhat. I would imagine that the other thing is our conference is very tough and everyone sees it as such. Certainly playing on the road in our conference has been a very difficult assignment. All of those things combined probably allowed us to stay in that same general area where we were before."
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