When Kale Abrahamson announced he was attending Northwestern instead of Iowa, there were certainly some Hawkeyes that were a little miffed. After all, Abrahamson was an all-state player and ESPN rated him the third best player in Iowa last year. It seemed like the Hawkeyes had made keeping Abrahamson in state a priority.
Abrahamson’s high school coach is Iowa’s all-time assist leader for crying out loud.
Yet, Abrahamson was steadfast in his choice for Northwestern, making it after a second visit to the Evanston campus and making his decision in early August of 2011. There was no doubt for Abrahamson it seemed. And he figured, along with Sanjay Lumpkin and Alex Olah to be a big part of this team.
Of course, he probably also figured he would not be starting yet with Drew Crawford on the roster (and likely sucking up most of the minutes at small forward). Crawford’s injury changed all that and threw Abrahamson into the spotlight. And so, Abrahamson’s first game against Iowa, his home state, today at Welsh-Ryan Arena, it will also be as a starter and as part of the never-ending learning experience for Abrahamson and this young team.
Abrahamson is averaging 5.5 points per game on 38.6 percent field goal shooting and 40.0 percent 3-point shooting. Since Crawford went out, Abrahamson has seen his playing time obviously increase and is averaging 8.0 points per game and has scored nine or more points in all games but one (against Stanford when he failed to score in nine minutes). He is shooting 41.7 percent from the floor and 46.4 percent from beyond the arc, helping him post a 59.7 percent effective field goal percentage.
Abrahamson’s strange little push shot (not that we discriminate after John Shurna) has been growing in efficiency and Abrahamson looks to be getting more comfortable in the Princeton offense, as Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday.
That was my biggest transition coming in. I was not using to running a lot of offense,” Abrahamson said. “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.
Abrahamson had one of the best games of his young career with 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting Sunday night in the ‘Cats 70-54 blowout win at Penn State. Most of Abrahamson’s scoring though is coming on 3-pointers — 20 of his 27 field goal attempts are from beyond the arc — and so there is still an aggression comfort that Abrahamson is trying to learn within the offense. Northwestern will need Abrahamson to get that comfort quicker though.
Iowa had a good showing Thursday in nearly upsetting Michigan State at home. This Hawkeyes team is proving to be a very difficult out in the Big Ten. Northwestern certainly will have its work cut out for it.
And for Abrahamson, a guy from West Des Moines, it would be a great victory over his home state’s team and the group he nearly joined.