Spike Albrecht proves he can lead Michigan

Alejandro Zúñiga
on

As it turns out, the Michigan basketball team might’ve been just fine without Derrick Walton against Syracuse on Tuesday, because if the guard couldn’t have played, the Wolverines would have simply relied more heavily on Spike Albrecht.

Walton, who is recovering from a sprained toe, was a game-time decision to start and finished with just three points on 1-of-7 shooting.

And as he demonstrated Tuesday, Albrecht can be a lethal offensive weapon on his own.

The junior compiled one of the best performances of his career, tallying 11 points, dishing out nine assists and recording two steals in 27 minutes, all without a turnover of his own, as the Wolverines beat the Orange, 68-65.

“Spike is really good at attacking zones,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “He sees behind the zone, he makes that entry pass into the high-post area better than anybody. That’s why we had him out there so much.”

Albrecht has played 27-plus minutes in all but one of the Wolverines’ games this year and has a 6.4-t0-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Yet he showed only limited flashes of his own scoring potential last month, not reaching double-digits in points through the first five games of the season.

He didn’t break out until Saturday against Nicholls State — a game Walton missed — when he scored 10 points and added seven assists and three steals without a turnover. And then, in front of a raucous Crisler Center crowd, he took the spotlight Tuesday by using his prior experience against Syracuse to slice up the Orange.

“You cannot mimic that [2-3 zone] in practice,” Albrecht said. “In the first half, I was shooting, and they were all over me. You can’t mimic that length and that size.”

Beilein has stressed to Albrecht all season that he should shoot when he has open looks, and that he did Tuesday, going 3-for-5 in the second half.

You’ve probably already seen the junior’s biggest highlight of the night, a catch-and-shoot three-pointer from well beyond the arc that rattled home with just more than 30 seconds remaining to give the Wolverines a lead they wouldn’t lose.
“I was a little nervous,” Albrecht said of the shot. “It did the little toilet-bowl action on me, but God was with me on that one.”

The guard also had a clever behind-the-back assist to Ricky Doyle that helped put Michigan ahead early in the second half.

I think that guy was going to block the crap out of me if I went up with it. twitter

“It was kind of just instinctive,” Albrecht said. “I usually don’t do the behind-the-backs and all that, but it was just kind of open.

“I think that guy was going to block the crap out of me if I went up with it.”

Albrecht shined because the way in which he combined his three-point shot (3-for-5) with his ability to singlehandedly dribble through Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone and then find open players — whether it be Ricky Doyle inside or one of the team’s numerous threats from deep. In the second half, Albrecht accounted for nine of Michigan’s 12 field goals.

With Tuesday’s performance, he now has 16 assists and no turnovers in his last two games and is hitting 42.9% of his threes on the season.

As Walton continues to recover — he has yet to participate full-speed in practice since the sprain — the point guard duties will continue to rest heavily on Albrecht.  Even when Walton is healthy, Michigan needs Albrecht to provide major minutes off the bench.

That’s something he’s used to

That’s something he’s used to; even last year, he demonstrated he could be trusted as a ballhandler and distributor. But on Tuesday, he showed he’s not afraid to take the big shot, either.

“We had Nik Stauskas, Tim Hardaway and Trey Burke do that, and that was a big shot for him,” Beilein said. “It’s something that we believe he can do. That was my encouragement to him this year: ‘Spike we need you to score. This team cannot score like last year if you are just setting people up. Shoot the ball when you are open. You’re really good at it.’ ”

  • ajerome33

    I don’t think we should rush Walton back. I personally would like to see him sit out until he is 100%. We are going to need him full strength for the B1G. If it was up to me, unless he fully recovers before then, I wouldn’t play him again until the SMU game. We should be okay without him for every game minus Arizona, but that game is going to be tough to win even if he’s playing.

  • jakerblue

    I love his candor…“I think that guy was going to block the crap out of me if I went up with it.”

    Nice to see Spike find his shot.

  • AADave

    Spike is amazing. I’m still astonished at how good Beilein’s two last minute additions to the 2012 class (Levert and Spike) have become.

    • rhoneyman

      seriously. where are these cats without caris and spike?

  • AADave

    Spike is amazing. I’m still astonished at how good Beilein’s two last minute additions to the 2012 class (Levert and Spike) have become.

    • rhoneyman

      seriously. where are these cats without caris and spike?

  • Fred Z in Ann Arbor

    Really proud of Spike. This game says to me that he has proved beyond all doubt that he is a legit DI point guard. He has delivered on the biggest stage against the best competition multiple times. Kate Upton should have him on her speed dial.

  • Fred Z in Ann Arbor

    Really proud of Spike. This game says to me that he has proved beyond all doubt that he is a legit DI point guard. He has delivered on the biggest stage against the best competition multiple times. Kate Upton should have him on her speed dial.

  • Madrox

    I agree, I think Michigan should limit Walton’s minutes as much as they need to in order to make sure he is as healthy as possible for Big Ten play. They have taken care of business in non-conference play beating two decent teams in Oregon and Cuse.

    As you said, Zona will probably be a loss regardless of Walton’s health, so I want him as close to 100% as possible to make a run at back to back Big Ten titles. I trust the coaches know what they are doing and just hope Walton is healthy soon.

    Also Spike is the greatest. I like how during the broadcast last night Tirico asked Dakich if he thought Spike would be this good and Dakich just laughed and say no way. Good for Spike and good for Michigan.

    • Picknroll21

      The same as last year, Spike should start and lead the team every game. The team loves playing with him and they all up their games with Spike orchestrating.

      • Madrox

        I wouldn’t go that far, this team needs Walton and he brings things to the table that Spike doesn’t. I like Spike better as a guy off the bench who usually ends up playing starters minutes and can provide a spark when Michigan needs it.

  • Madrox

    I agree, I think Michigan should limit Walton’s minutes as much as they need to in order to make sure he is as healthy as possible for Big Ten play. They have taken care of business in non-conference play beating two decent teams in Oregon and Cuse.

    As you said, Zona will probably be a loss regardless of Walton’s health, so I want him as close to 100% as possible to make a run at back to back Big Ten titles. I trust the coaches know what they are doing and just hope Walton is healthy soon.

    Also Spike is the greatest. I like how during the broadcast last night Tirico asked Dakich if he thought Spike would be this good and Dakich just laughed and say no way. Good for Spike and good for Michigan.

    • Picknroll21

      The same as last year, Spike should start and lead the team every game. The team loves playing with him and they all up their games with Spike orchestrating.

      • Madrox

        I wouldn’t go that far, this team needs Walton and he brings things to the table that Spike doesn’t. I like Spike better as a guy off the bench who usually ends up playing starters minutes and can provide a spark when Michigan needs it.

  • Wayman Britt

    Spike has a great start to this season and has improved every year. Let’s hope MAAR develops the same.

  • Wayman Britt

    Spike has a great start to this season and has improved every year. Let’s hope MAAR develops the same.

  • A quick look at the box score and this game/win becomes even more impressive. Five guys in double figures with 10, 18, 12,11,12. Our ball handlers hand out 15 assists, our 4 and 5 pull down 15 boards and our go to scorer leads us with 18. Against a defense that you absolutely know is going to make people suffer all season long. All of this without Walton, really. A healthy Walton pulls down maybe 3/4 boards and we rebound them to an even draw. Dwell on that one for a second.

    Two of our freshmen are becoming more and more solid with each outing with still ample time for some others to figure it out. While I know for a fact that we’re gonna see some bad games from our young players before this is over, i’m real encouraged.

  • A quick look at the box score and this game/win becomes even more impressive. Five guys in double figures with 10, 18, 12,11,12. Our ball handlers hand out 15 assists, our 4 and 5 pull down 15 boards and our go to scorer leads us with 18. Against a defense that you absolutely know is going to make people suffer all season long. All of this without Walton, really. A healthy Walton pulls down maybe 3/4 boards and we rebound them to an even draw. Dwell on that one for a second.

    Two of our freshmen are becoming more and more solid with each outing with still ample time for some others to figure it out. While I know for a fact that we’re gonna see some bad games from our young players before this is over, i’m real encouraged.