Michigan Basketball Round-Up: Dec 6th Edition

Lester Abram

Amaker and his player's discuss not overlooking Delaware State. Plus we take a look at where things stand with Lester Abram, Jevohn Shepherd, and Brent Petway.

"Don't Overlook the Next Opponent"
The undefeated record through five games is certainly something for the Michigan basketball team to be proud of, but head man Tommy Amaker has done his best make sure his players are focused on the next opponent and not on the success they've experienced in a very young season.. He has made it clear that their accomplishments will diminish in significance if they drop games they should win.

"We're in a cycle where we've done some decent things to be 5-0, but I'm hoping that we can continue to build," Amaker said. "We want to continue to improve. We have a long way to go to get better, but it's nice to be able try to improve while you're doing some things and winning some games. We're hopeful that we can get better. There are a lot of things from the Notre Dame game…we need to guard the basketball better. We need to be a better block-out team. There are things that we can emphasize today and tomorrow that hopefully we can use to help us play well and win on Wednesday."

According to the players, a letdown versus Delaware State is extremely unlikely. They're confident that they will keep the ball rolling…not because they feel they're that much better than their opponents…but because they feel their preparation is THAT good. "I feel like we're prepared every time we step into a game," said junior wing Lester Abram. "There are no surprises. Our coach tells what each player on the opposing team is going to do, what stuff they run…and there are no surprises when we get out there. They actually do what our coaches tells us they…what we've been practicing all week. I feel like we come into every game prepared and that gives you confidence when you already know what the other team is going to do."

Abram also cited the veteran leadership on the team as a reason there won't be a letdown. According to Abram, examples of that leadership have already been on display this season. "I think [the veteran leadership] makes a difference during the later stages of the game," he said. "We don't panic as a team. Some of the games we've won this year I don't think we probably would have won a couple of years ago."

Amaker Not Worried About Abram
Lester Abram's stat line against Notre Dame over the weekend definitely wasn't one of his best. The Pontiac native was 0/4 from the field and notched only four points…all from the free throw line. Despite his offensive struggles, Amaker remains confident in his rather unassuming player and believes Abram will be there when he's needed.

"It certainly wasn't a game that we're going to write about in terms of a full game performance out of Lester," Amaker said. "I thought he bobbled a few passes. He wasn't his typical self out there at times. I think at times in this early portion of our season that Lester has forced some things, but there are things that we can live with because of the style that we want to play. But there is a fine line. We want to play with a little faster tempo. There's a little looser reign on the guys on the perimeter because that's the style that we're going to have and want to play. They need to feel confident and free and have the ability to play up and down. I think at times he has made some poor decisions. But I tell you what; as long as he could walk to the foul line I was going to have him shoot the free throws. I have that much confidence in him. It never dawned on me because he wasn't having a great scoring afternoon that we not play Lester or try a different option. That never crossed my mind. He is a winner. He's going to make winning plays. He's going to be tough and get loose balls. He certainly got that big one at the end for us and made two free throws that sealed the win for us. It was an afternoon where he didn't score as much, but he didn't force things. He stayed within the team concept. He played our brand of basketball. I think he did a tremendous job on some of their players on the defensive end. "

Shepherd's Role to Expand Throughout Season
Jevohn Shepherd has seen his minutes decrease in recent games. Against the Irish on Saturday, he didn't see the floor at all. That, however, should not be taken as a sign that the explosive Canadian doesn't figure into Amaker's plans this year.

"I definitely feel that he has a role and a place to contribute for this team," Amaker said. "We are confident that he'll move into that area as time permits, but we feel that he and Jerret both are two kids that have displayed the ability to help us this year. We need to have them get up to speed in certain areas to be able to do that in game situations. [The important thing] I think for Jevohn is to fit in. I think the times where he's been in…you can see where maybe he is trying too hard. He has been a little out of control. {He's had] silly turnovers when he has been in the game. I think [it's important] for him to recognize his role…and I think he will. Boy is he ever willing to learn. He's a great kid, works hard. So we have all of the confidence in the world that he's going to be a kid that is definitely going to help this team and contribute on the court in some successful moments for us this season."

Petway Still Contributing
Brent Petway may not be able to participate on the court, but he is contributing to the team in every other way possible. The junior forward, who had offseason shoulder surgery, did not travel with the team to South Bend. However, he did travel to Crisler to be their one-man welcoming committee when they got back.

"We got back here Saturday evening close to 8-oclock or so," Amaker said. "We meet with our guys in the locker room after they get off the bus. I'm coming out to say a few words to them to dismiss them and give them schedule, and Brent's sitting in front of his locker with the rest of his teammates. It was great that he met the bus and met the kids back here and was waiting on them. It was s nice to see that. Physically he is 100%. He has been fine. He has been practicing well. We certainly look forward to having him back."

Be sure to check back tomorrow for our feature on Senior PF, Graham Brown.

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