With the news that Spike Albrecht will be transferring for his fifth-year senior season, the last member of the “Fresh Five” departs Ann Arbor. The 2012 recruiting class – Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson, Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert, Spike – were all rotation players as freshmen in March and made it to the national title game: for a brief stretch, they were all on the floor together in the Georgia Dome as Michigan raced out to a first half lead over Louisville. Mitch, who was so impactful in that tournament run, was lost to injury as a sophomore; with Nik, Caris, and GRIII leading the charge, Michigan won the Big Ten and made it to the Elite Eight.
In those two seasons, the Wolverines won 59 games, posting a 27-9 record in Big Ten play and going 8-2 in the NCAA Tournament. The three-year span from 2012 (when the Fresh Five were seniors in high school) to 2014 (their sophomore year) will probably be considered the apex of the Beilein era – the ‘13 and ‘14 teams were the best offensively in all of college basketball and true national title contenders. As far as recruiting classes – and five-man lineups – go, Albrecht / LeVert / Stauskas / Robinson / McGary is about as good as you’ll get in college basketball.
Mitch thrived after he lost weight and, with the help of Trey Burke, became one of the best players in the country in March as a freshman – physical, energetic, and lethal in the pick-and-roll. Nik blew up as a sophomore, won Big Ten POY, and was drafted in the lottery after excelling as the team’s sharpshooting alpha dog. GRIII started and played big minutes in a complementary role for two excellent teams before leaving for the NBA (and sticking with a team). Caris was a phenomenal second banana as a sophomore and developed into an very intriguing NBA prospect in his own right. Spike was always a good backup point guard, an offensive sparkplug and a stable rotation cog – and developed into a capable starter as a junior.
Depending on LeVert’s health, there could be four of the Fresh Five in the NBA next season. Hopefully we’ll get to see Spike play well at his next stop and light up somebody in the NCAA Tournament a year from now. Because talent is so fleeting in college basketball, the window for these guys at Michigan was pretty small – just two seasons. Beilein made the most of those two seasons though and the Fresh Five helped elevate Michigan to a level of success it hadn’t seen since the Fab Five while playing a brilliant kind of offensive basketball – elite shooting, pick-and-roll mastery, and GRIII thunder-dunks.
Unfortunately, fate was cruel to Mitch, Caris, and Spike.
[sadness, but also happiness after THE JUMP]
Pretty much the bad PR you might expect, and I agree. Coaches shouldn't have veto power over transfer destination.
LINK to article titled "Height of Hypocrisy: Michigan Limiting Spike Albrecht's Transfer Options"
Money quotes from Beilein:
"There are 334 other schools he can go to,” Beilein told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday, almost getting the math right on 351 minus the other 13 Big Ten members. “He has a lot of choices."
"Having a kid sit out a year is not like going to jail,” he said. “It’s a slippery slope. I want what’s best for Spike but also what’s best for our program. You train a guy and develop him for four years and suddenly he’s the starting point guard at Michigan State?"
As for Spike's dad Chuck, he seems to be taking it better than I would:
"To be honest, this is kind of what we expected,” he said. “It’s not totally a surprise. I don’t think it’s real fair, but it seems like the norm.
"There’s certain schools in the Big Ten he’d never consider and others he might, I don’t know. If they’re worried about Spike – I think they’ve got bigger problems. But we do respect Michigan and the program, so Spike doesn’t want to cause problems.”
Forde closes with this, which I totally agree with:
Yet here in the real world, a player who will have a degree – and who has already been told he’s not going to have a scholarship in 2016-17 – is still having his future controlled and curtailed by the college. It’s wrong. And at Michigan, where the 2015 starting quarterback was a Hawkeye in 2014, it’s also hypocritical.
According to the News, Spike Albrecht is eligible for a redshirt this year, and a 5th year in the 2016 - 2017 season, if he and Beilein mutually desire.
This tidbit is buried well below the lede, which focuses on incoming recruits Xavier Simpson and Austin Davis.
Beilein continues to leave the door slightly cracked for a possible return. Albrecht, who had two hip surgeries this spring, remains on scholarship and could actually get another year of eligibility — because he remains just under the 30-percent threshold of games played this season. "I don't think he plans on that," Beilein said. "That's gonna be up to Spike." There's been no actual discussion yet between the two. If UM were to get Albrecht on the floor for even a second on Senior Day, March 5, against Iowa at Crisler Center, he would burn that extra year of eligibility.
It's an intriguing thought. Don't know what Spike has in mind. But if I felt better after rehab, the team was trending up, Beilein would allow it and there was room, and I had another free year of classes, room and board, etc., it'd be very tempting. Unless Spike has grad school lined up, or a clear job path, this looks like a great opportunity. We'll see.
With Spike's retirement, Andrew Dakich has unsurprisingly, once again, dropped his redshirt. Initially, I really didn't think much of Dakich's potential to contribute significantly and consistently to the team. Other than energy, he doesn't seem to bring much to the floor. And is energy really the key trait that this team needs right now? Probably not. But, after watching Dakich play a little bit last year and, more specifically, a little bit today, I've come to the conclusion that there are four main reasons why he has the potential to maintain the legacy that Spike has created. Do I think Dakich can or will play up to the level that Spike played? Absolutely not. But, I think he can at the very least perform up to par and make consistent and potentially significant contributions to the team.
First, Spike serving as a mentor to Dakich is crucial to Dakich's success on the court. Spike is one of the best leaders on that team. His playing abilities are matched by his leadership skills. Like he noted at his press conference, he was not afraid to hold players accountable for their actions. At the same time, he lead by example. He was an incredibly smart basketball player, rarely turning the ball over. He was a playmaker, and, when he needed to be, he was a scorer. His basketball knowledge and leadership skills make him the perfect mentor, and, assuming he works with Dakich, Dakich should be able to develop quite well under his guidance.
Second, Dakich's enthusiasm is vital for his development. While Spike is the ideal mentor for Dakich, his advice means nothing if Dakich doesn't accept the advice. However, Dakich's enthusiasm assures me that he is more than willing to take some advice. Additionally, his enthusiasm likely has a positive effect on his teammates, much like Spike's enthusiasm. In big games against tough opponents, someone needs to be the source of energy for the team, and I think Dakich will be that source. Whether he's performing one of his trademark celebrations on the bench, or getting fired up on the court (after he scored his first basket today, he could be seen/heard shouting either "FUCK YEA!" or "FUCK YOU!"), there's no doubt in my mind that his Spike-like enthusiasm can have a very positive impact on his teammates.
Third, Dakich's style of play is almost identical to Spike's, with the exception being that Spike is just a better basketball player. The way I'd describe the style of Spike is that it is the intersection of unorthodox street ball and strategic basketball. Spike was obviously not one of the most athletic players in the country, but his creativity enabled him to be one of the most versatile. While many players struggle at Spike's height, he had few problems driving to the rim and performing some of the most creative lay ups, or making some virtually impossible passes to set up teammates. He was unpredictable, and his creativity made him a nightmare for defenders. I see a lot of similarities in Dakich's style. Obviously Dakich is not even close to the level that Spike was at, but he plays with a similar street ball/strategic basketball style. Much like Spike, he spends a lot of time moving the ball, whether it be with passes or on his own (preferably the former). I noticed a lot of that today against Delaware State, where he had 4 pts, 3 ast, and even 2 rebounds. The aspect of his game that probably needs the most work is his care for the ball, as he had 2 of the teams 7 turnovers. Regardless, as his skills develop, I think he could have an impact that mirrors, though not at the same level, Spike's impact.
Finally, Dakich has a LOT of support from fans, students and non-students alike. Much like fans loved Spike, fans, at least, based on enthusiasm at today's game, love Dakich. They erupted when he scored today and when he missed, there were on the edge of their seats waiting to explode again. Having the support of thousands of people can be a major confidence booster for players, and with his personality, I think Dakich will be using that support to propel his game to the next level.
Ultimately, I do not think Spike is a replaceable player. As I said before, his style is unique and organic, and I feel that replicating that could be difficult. However, Spike is leaving behind a legacy. He went from lurking in the shadows to a national household name quickly, and had he not been plagued with unfortunate injuries, his potential was limitless. I certainly think that Spike would love to vicariously live out the rest of his season through Dakich. Perhaps I'm being way too optimistic about the situation. But, with all the petty injuries we have right now, and of course, with Spike's retirement, I think it's important to find the positives in the situation. Though Spike's legacy may be over, I think that Dakich has the potential to establish his own legacy. It probably would not be as impressive as Spike's, but I think that it would be great to see the legacy that Spike was trying to cap off with a stellar senior year be maintained by Dakich, under the Spike's guidance.
Nice write up from the Daily in their hoops preview coverage.
I had never heard this bit:
After watching Albrecht play in an open gym on campus during his recruiting trip, Beilein invited him and his parents over to his house for dinner. Following the meal, he took them into his home office.
“I was kind of intimidated, like, ‘Oh shit,’ ” Albrecht recalled thinking. “He was sitting there talking, then he paused. I could tell he was thinking, about ready to make a big decision. He’s like, ‘You’re either going to get me fired or make me look like a genius.’ And then he goes, ‘How would you like to come play basketball at Michigan?’ ”
Spike accepted on the spot.