ROSEMONT, Ill. – Spike Albrecht addressed reporters today at Big Ten Media Day 2015 at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare. Albrecht discussed his recovery, in-state rivalries, leadership, offsesason progress and much more.
Watch Albrecht’s interview in the embedded media player above or read assorted quotes below.
On Michigan-Michigan State both being good: “It’s awesome, it’s great for the rivalry. I think you saw that for the first two years we were here. When you go to East Lansing and they come to Crisler you can feel it in the air the air. The fans are all pumped up about it, and there’s a lot of pride on the line.
“As a player I think it’s a great atmosphere and I love playing there every year — I wish it was a protected home and home because it’s fun to play in both environments.”
On wearing a bowtie: “It’s my first bowtie, it took me 20 minutes to figure it out. I actually had to get a Michigan State SID to help me with it, it was a struggle. But senior year I’ve got to change it up — this is my first one. It’s all I brought though, so if we didn’t figure it out, Coach B would not have been happy.”
On rehabbing his hip injuries: “It was tough. It was really the first time I’ve ever had to sit out and miss games, so that was tough. It was hard sitting there watching my teammates go through the grind when I really couldn’t be out there. Now I’m full-go, but I’m still trying to shake off the rust a little bit and get all of these muscles back working because you haven’t played for five or six months it leaves you pretty quickly.
“The physical rehab itself was tough, it was a grind. But being a leader on the team and not being able to be out there with the team was brutal. After the season we had last year I wanted to be out there and push everyone and help everyone grow and I wasn’t able to do that.”
On having so many players back from last season: “It’s nice. This year we don’t have to do as much teaching. Last year we were very young, and we spent a lot of time just teaching and teaching and teaching. This year we have a higher level of accountability and we all have to go out there and perform and work, so the intensity and competitiveness has picked up tremendously.”
I don’t know if we’re good cop bad cop, I think we’re both just chill, nice dudes.”
On leadership he and Caris bring: “As seniors, Caris and I kind of have that do whatever it takes attitude. We both amped up our leadership roles and try to hold others accountable. You can’t be afraid to speak out and say what you’re thinking or feeling, and that goes for Caris and myself, too.
“Both Caris and myself have been lead by example guys, just go out there and work our butts off and have others follow our lead. Now we’re both working on adding that vocal leadership. I don’t know if we’re good cop bad cop, I think we’re both just chill, nice dudes.”
On offseason progress: “The guys who were freshmen last year are now sophomores, and they’ve all made tremendous strides not only in their game, but physically. They’ve all gotten a lot stronger and put on weight. DJ Wilson, I don’t know the numbers, but he looks like a whole different person. You can see it on the court now, we’re a lot more physical, playing through contact, rebounding the ball, things like that.”
On avoiding non-conference upsets: “You can’t take other teams for granted, especially some of the smaller mid-major teams. When they’re playing you, it’s like their Super Bowl, and you have to match that intensity from the beginning and I think in years’ past we haven’t done that, we’ve kind of slipped up.”
On how much better this team is than last season: “Obviously having Caris and Derrick back is huge, and that makes us a lot better. But having another year of experience, guys having another year in the weight room, that makes a huge difference. Even just being another year older helps out a lot. If you look at what Caris and Nik did their sophomore years, the strides that they made. Not everyone’s going to make those same strides, but there is a lot of improvement in the offseason, and I’m expecting them to pay off this season.”