Injury-plagued Northwestern counts on Kale Abrahamson
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org January 11, 2013 2:47PM
Sanjay Lumpkin, Alex Olah, Kale Abrahamson
Updated: January 11, 2013 7:39PM
Northwestern freshman forward Kale Abrahamson is relishing every minute of his first Big Ten season, but he admits he still is trying to balance thinking too much and not at all.
Abrahamson was thrust into the starting lineup when Drew Crawford had season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. His biggest challenge has been digesting plays designed for individual opponents while trying to let playing within coach Bill Carmody’s system come as naturally as possible.
‘‘That was my biggest transition coming in,’’ Abrahamson said. ‘‘I was not using to running a lot of offense. I would just do my thing [in high school] and really just play how I knew how to play. Now I really have to adjust to what Carmody wants to do, so I really have to find the balance between doing what I do and thinking out there.’’
Nobody wants to admit it — and understandably so — but this season is mostly about the future for the Wildcats. Success for injury- and suspension-depleted NU (10-6, 1-2 Big Ten) will be measured by victories, of course, but also by the development of five freshmen and/or redshirt freshmen, whose maturation might foreshadow how good these Wildcats can be moving forward.
Those players were saying all the right things heading into the jaws of the conference schedule. But after lopsided losses to Michigan and Minnesota, routing Penn State on Thursday offered positive reinforcement heading into the game Sunday against Iowa (11-5, 0-3) at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
‘‘I don’t want to keep saying youth, youth, youth,’’ Carmody said. ‘‘I’m getting tired of it, to tell you the truth. You have played  games. That’s a lot of games. Go out there and play. You’re getting opportunities. Some of these guys have to take advantage of that.’’
The game Sunday offers the latest — and perhaps most meaningful — opportunity for Abrahamson, who has averaged eight points and shot 39 percent from the field (40 percent from three-point range) in his first six starts.
He ranked among Iowa’s leading scorers at Valley High School in West Des Moines and is trying to maintain his aggressive style while respecting the confines of Carmody’s team-oriented offense.
He’s not bashful, that’s for sure. If he gets an open look, his first instinct is to launch his shot. He often is able to see Carmody’s reaction out of the corner of his eye as he heads back up the floor.
‘‘It probably frustrates him at times, I guess, by how he shakes his head over there, but I’ve always been a scorer,’’ Abra- hamson said. ‘‘I think that’s what he brought me here to do, so I’m going to do it.”