spoiler alert: i linked this
Michigan (9-3) vs
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -23 (KenPom)|
PBP: Jeff Levering
Analyst: Stephen Bardo
Right: If Bryant doesn't bring Tupper to tonight's game they deserve to lose by 50. [Photo: Tupper's Twitter]
DJ Wilson made a surprise appearance in garbage time against Youngstown State, so aside from the loss of Spike Albrecht this team is back at full strength.
Despite the injury issues, the rotation has taken shape over the course of the last few weeks, and tonight's final tune-up before Big Ten play should provide a preview of how John Beilein will utilize the bench even though another blowout is expected.
Meanwhile, Albrecht's father is quoted in a report from the Post-Tribune saying Spike will pursue a medical redshirt and he "think(s) he'll play" next season. While that opens the door for a return to Michigan, the Wolverines are currently oversigned by one player for 2016-17; transferring elsewhere for a grad year is a more likely option. MLive's Brendan Quinn caught up with the elder Albrecht to get further details:
According to Chuck Albrecht, there has been no conversation with Beilein about scholarships or the future — the issues that stirred a small sea of speculation on Tuesday night.
"No, we haven't talked, but we know the facts," Chuck Albrecht said. "We know they're over one scholarship. We know these things and we follow these things. We know there's a top point guard (Xavier Simpson) going in there next year. Those are facts that we know.
"But no, Spike hasn't sat down with coach Beilein, but I'm sure that'll happen sometime."
Another year at Michigan hasn't been ruled out, even if it appears unlikely; neither has a grad transfer or even playing pro ball overseas.
Michigan has beaten three opponents by 50+ points this season. As the #329 team on KenPom, and one that runs a lot of 2-3 zone, Bryant may very well be the fourth.
Senior point guard Shane McLaughlin is the team's primary distributor with 44 assists, 30 more than any other Bulldog, but his 33 turnovers are a serious issue. Shooting splits of 50/29/38 (yes, that's 38% from the line) aren't helping much, either.
Fellow starting guards Hunter Ware and Nisre Zouzoua both stand at 6'2" and take a little under half their shots from outside the arc, shooting 32% and 34% on three-pointers, respectively. Ware is the team's leading scorer by virtue of being much more efficient on two-pointers (48% to 36%), while Zouzoua is more likely to get to the line. Incredibly, Zouzoua (83% FT) is the only Bulldog to make more than two-thirds of his free throws, and one of just two regulars to crack 60%.
6'6", 215-pound starting four Dan Garvin is an good rebounder and shot-blocker; he also serves as the team's highest-usage offensive option. That latter bit hasn't gone so well. He's shooting 40% on twos, hit one of eight threes, and is languishing at 55% from the line.
Starting in the middle is 6'5", 250-pound true freshman Marcel Pettway; that height/weight listing is not a typo. Despite being quite undersized, Pettway has managed to make an impact on the boards, and he even posted a 15-point, 12-rebound effort against Georgetown, albeit in a game the Hoyas won by 30. Pettway has only four blocks this season despite manning the middle of a 2-3 zone; Michigan should be able to attack the basket without too much resistance.
Bryant's sixth man is 6'7" wing Bosko Kostur, who takes over half his shots from downtown while connecting on 25% of them. The primary backup big, Gus Riley, is a stretch-four type also making only 25% of his threes while posting a paltry 8.5% mark on the defensive boards; that should explain why a 6'5" freshman starts in the post.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
As always, click the links/stills to open each GIF in a lightbox.
The first real hint that Spike Albrecht would exceed even the most unreasonable expectations came in the second game of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, when he threaded a left-handed bounce pass between two defenders to hit Glenn Robinson III in stride from halfcourt. Michigan's bench leapt in unison—we thought, at the time, out of shock, but in retrospect perhaps they knew before the rest of us that Spike was far from done.
Two weekends later, Spike introduced himself to the hoops world at large with his 17-point outburst against Louisville. In the years since, that performance has become less stunning, which is remarkable considering he's only been a full-time starter when injury struck the guy in front of him.
To say Spike made the most out of a limited skill set is to sell him short, because he had serious skills. This is not a pass I've seen anyone else make, certainly not in a college game, and he pulled that out as a freshman in the second weekend of the tourney. It came seemingly out of nowhere—as, quite freqently, did Spike:
Spike's greatest asset was his audacity. He'd launch a shot from a foot inside the halfcourt logo because he could do that. Once he hit such a shot and then did the Sam Cassell big balls dance; if Cassell didn't have full ownership of that move, it could've been Spike's most fitting signature. One of his greatest highlights started by accident and ended with him acting like that was the plan all along:
Despite the above, Spike appeared in constant control. He'd dribble donuts through a defense until an opportunity presented itself. He'd find that extra half-foot of space required to get off his patented one-handed granny layup. He'd leave the center no choice but to respect that damn granny layup and commit a moment before Spike would drop a deft pass to the man the center had left all alone. He'd pick your pocket or your passing lane, then lead a highlight-worthy fast break. He'd weave through the defense and dish off a pass to a player he couldn't possibly have seen:
And, yes, Spike did the proverbial gritty stuff. In his second-to-last game, a rote blowout of Houston Baptist, he didn't hesitate to lay out for a loose ball—as he'd done so many times before—landing on two bad hips that were in even worse shape than we thought. The whole team ran over to pick him up. He shook it off as if it was nothing, then gave us one last spectacular play:
When Spike was on the court, odds were he'd put a smile on your face. He was just as likely to do so off the court:
If there's a player that embodies why we watch the college game, it's Spike Albrecht. While his career ended too soon, it contained more than we ever could've imagined.
[Editor's Note: This ran as the game column after last year's win over Ohio State. When I started thinking about writing a Spike career obit it occurred to me that I was just going to rewrite this.]
2/22/2015 – Michigan 64, Ohio State 57 – 14-13, 7-8 Big Ten
Basketball from the perspective of an Andre Drummond or a Shaq is a simple thing. You come into possession of the ball. You hold it between two fingers, bellow something designed to induce a flight or fight response, survey the various and sundry "flight" responses, and dunk explosively on anyone who chose… poorly. If someone tries to do the same when you are on defense, you fling him into the nearest body of water.
Later, you have a snack.
Basketball from the perspective of Spike Albrecht is a multi-dimensional differential equation in which almost all answers are emphatically wrong ones. To avoid being postmarked to Lake Michigan, Albrecht has to swoop through the lane several times to induce dizziness in the opposition and then find the one local minima that will result in a shot instead of an Ent-shaped man flexing.
He does this regularly.
When he's really dialed in the result has a Globetrotter feel. A few games ago there was a brief referee discussion after Albrecht was fouled and the refs tried to determine whether it was on the floor or not. The thing is: they were probably right it was a pass. It looked like a pass. It felt like a pass.
It felt like a pass that was off by a little bit so instead of just hitting the backboard it grazed the rim. It felt like this for two diametrically opposed reasons. One, whatever it was that Albrecht was doing did not in any was resemble a shot, at least as far as shooting has been understood since World War II. Two, when Albrecht flings balls at the basket like that they're usually a lot closer to going in.
I found out Kenpom's added an "MVP" feature in their box scores because Albrecht locked it down against Ohio State. And, well, yeah: Albrecht out-dueled future top five pick D'Angelo Russell:
- Albrecht: 16 points on 12 shot equivalents, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 0 TO
- Russell: 16 points on 17 shot equivalents, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 5 TO
Choosing your favorite Spiketrotters play from this game is difficult: the swooping layup past Amir Williams? The assist he wrapped around after faking the swooping layup so convincingly he momentarily fooled himself? The pinpoint, Brady-worthy fade pass to Bielfeldt off the pick and roll? Slipping in for one of his trademarked Very Sneaky Steals to seal the game?
I dunno man, I like 'em both, and I also like both the others. Watching that kind of performance from Albrecht is like a virtuoso slot receiver performance or a hat trick from one of the 5'8" puck wizards Michigan used to collect like pogs back in the day. It's disproportionately fun.
Movies pack their sportsbits with various people overcoming handicaps for a reason. People watch sports instead of those movies for a reason: it's so much better when a script is nowhere near the proceedings. Not that you could script items like we saw yesterday.
P: "So the little guy, he does what?"
W: "He swoops by a seven-foot dude and flings it up underhand from the baseline! And he makes it! A lot!"
P: "The littlest guy on the court. Shooting one-handed grandma free throws on the run against guys a foot taller than him."
P: "I can't decide whether to fire you or shoot you."
We're all pretty eh on this season, willing to give a guy with eight NCAA tourney wins in two seasons a mulligan when his best two players end up on the shelf after a massive pile of unexpected NBA attrition, but not particularly eager to watch Michigan lose a bunch of games. There's no storming the barricades like football, just a desire to fast-forward to next year.
Albrecht paused that thinking a few minutes in yesterday, giving us something to grab on to now, instead of next year. That thing is man versus space bear, with man improbably winning.
[After THE JUMP: a few bullets from the original post that are no longer relevant.]
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball senior guard Spike Albrecht announced today (Friday, Dec. 11) he has elected to step away from the court for the remainder of the season. He will concentrate on his continued recovery and the rehabilitation process following bilateral hip surgery this past summer.
"This has been the toughest decision I have ever had to make," said Albrecht. "After taking a hard look at what is best for me, and this team, I will be stepping away from the game that has meant so much to me.
"I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my career and in particular over the last year while I was dealing with this injury. I just have a little more to go and I really need to take the proper time to finish my rehab.
"The University of Michigan has provided me and my family so much, I don't really even have the words to express my gratitude. This place is truly special and I hope I was able to leave just a little bit of a mark during my career. I cannot thank Wolverine nation enough for all the love and support they have shown me throughout my four years here. Forever and always -- Go Blue!"
"This has been an agonizing decision for Spike, especially at this juncture of the season," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "He has done so much to get back to this point, but his long-term health is what is most important now and in the future. We want only the best for Spike.
"He is a tremendous young man, who has had a very special career. His important role in our 2013 NCAA Tournament run and his incredible performance in the national title game were straight out of a storybook. His sophomore year we would not have won the Big Ten title or made a second straight trip in the Elite Eight without him.
"He has proven time and time again what heart and determination can do. Even last year, he played through so much pain, but held the team together and guided us through tough times."
Albrecht played in 115 career games for the Wolverines. A two-time team captain, he was named Michigan's co-MVP last season after starting 18 of 31 games and posting a career-best 7.5 points per game.
As a freshman, he played in all 39 games and helped U-M reach the Final Four for the first time in 20 years as well as tie the school record for wins (31). It was his 17-point performance in the national title game against Louisville that will see him remembered for years to come.
Albrecht guided U-M to a second straight Elite Eight appearance as a sophomore as the Wolverines lost on a last second-shot to Kentucky to miss a second straight Final Four. That same season, he played in all 37 games and helped the Maize and Blue to its first outright Big Ten title in 28 years.
He would be eligible to take a medical redshirt and return next year, but from the way they’re talking about this it seems clear his career over-over. It is a tribute to Spike how much that utterly sucks.
[Scheduling note: As of now Brian's on play 11,481 of 19,000 of the Indiana UFR so that will be a bit delayed. So here's some #content]
By the way we did these picks before last week so nobody had any game information go on. Alex is up.
ALEX—ROUND 7, PICK 2: Tre Demps, SG, Northwestern
TEAM: PG: Bronson Koenig (UW), SG: Caris LeVert (UM), SF: Jarrod Uthoff (IA), PF: Malcolm Hill (IL), C: Thomas Bryant (Ind). Bench: Robert Carter (C/PF, Md), Tre Demps (SG, NW)
Caris never comes off the floor. Demps only takes the end of half/game heaves for my team and that's it.
[Jump for TWO MORE MICHIGAN PLAYERS we took horray!]
This was sorely missed last year.
Basketball season is nearly upon us. Unlike previous years, it isn't a much-needed respite from a miserable football campaign, and instead should serve as a delightful second helping of good sports feels as we head into the winter.
As Michigan learned the hard way in 2014-15, it all starts with the point guard in John Beilein's system. Derrick Walton is healthy again after a foot injury derailed and then prematurely ended his sophomore season; now he's poised for the patented LaVall Jordan second-year leap a year later than expected. Spike Albrecht is recovering from surgery on his hips but should be a full go early in the season, giving the Wolverines a starter-quality backup.
This is where the turnaround starts.
[Hit THE JUMP.]