by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
Northwestern has a long break between home games from last weekend’s game against Purdue to next weekend’s game against Illinois. However, NU forward Kale Abrahamson will get a stop at home halfway through that stretch.
The West Des Moines, Iowa, native will make his first trip to Iowa City as a college player on Saturday, when the Wildcats take on Iowa. He’s a fan of Iowa, just not the Hawkeyes.
“I like Iowa,” he said. “It’s a good state.”
There will be a lot of familiar faces in the crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Abrahamson, from his family, who will be wearing purple, to his friends from high school, who will be decked out in black and gold.
“I have a lot of my old basketball friends from my junior year of high school go to Iowa,” he said. “So I expect a lock of heckles, but it should be a lot of fun.”
Had things played out differently, those heckles could have been cheers and Abrahamson could have been wearing black and gold on Saturday. He had a scholarship offer to Iowa, and there were plenty of reasons for him to become a Hawkeye. In addition to being an Iowan, two of Abrahamson’s AAU teammates, Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury, went to Iowa, and his high school coach, Jeff Horner, is a Hawkeye great.
However, since he lived in Missouri from fifth to eighth grade — “the stage where I might have grown allegiances,” he said — he didn’t grow up a Hawkeye fan. In fact, he grew up a Duke fan. Ultimately, he chose Northwestern because it offered the best combination of opportunities.
“I kind of wanted to do my own thing,” Abrahamson said. “I didn’t particularly want to go and play with people I played (with) before. But also, the academics and just the chance — I thought I was going to play right away, so that opportunity was definitely out there for me.”
Abrahamson started out his time at NU playing a lot. After Drew Crawford was injured, he was inserted into the starting lineup. But about a month into Big Ten play, he was replaced as a starter by Tre Demps. Abrahamson’s minutes were cut significantly and he’s still not sure exactly why.
“I’d tell you if you knew,” he said. “There really hasn’t been much explanation. I’m just trying to take it with a grain of salt and not let it affect my confidence.”
Bill Carmody said the move wasn’t all on Abrahamson, but rather, NU needed some sort of a shakeup after hitting a rough patch.
“I just thought that we needed to switch it around a little bit,” Carmody said. “I didn’t like the way it was going, not just because of him, just the combination of guys. (Tre) has been playing well in practice, so that’s important.”
Abrahamson said it’s not his job to “beg for minutes,” so he’ll take whatever role he’s given by the coaches. Carmody said Abrahamson may or not play more in front of his home crowd, but if he does, it will be because he earned more time.
“I have soft spots in my heart, but when I go into a game I’m trying to win,” Carmody said. “Some guys play well when they’re at home, they play above. So we’ll see; he’ll get a crack and we’ll see what he does.”