Michael Joseph Albrecht (we know him as just "Spike") came to the Michigan Wolverines basketball team last season without fanfare. Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary had put in a good word to Coach Beilein for him. Many fans were wondering: who is this kid and can he help the team. Well 53 games later I would say all of those questions have been answered. Handling the point guard duties for significant stretches, this team has come to depend on him. And Spike understands his role for this team.
"I know my role on the team," Spike says. "Coming off the bench, I am supplying energy -- trying to be a little bit of a spark. It is a lot more important for me to get other guys going than to get myself going offensively. Defensively, you know, obviously is not one of my strengths, but it's something I really work at and take pride in -- we all do as a team, and we just continue to get better at it each day."
Albrecht as the point guard he has taken on a leadership role, making sure guys are where they should be out on the floor.
"We have a really good group of guys," Spike says, "and really good chemistry -- and as a point guard you are the quarterback out there the floor general. I think I have earned their respect and they listen to me."
The young Wolverines lost Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway to the NBA, two huge pieces from last year's team. And so the 2013-14 team needed to find their way as to who would fill in roles and pick up the slack. Who answered the call?
"I think everyone did kind of," Spike says. "Having Trey and Tim, two big time players, everyone was wondering where all the scoring was going to come from. You have to let the game come to you, and I think that is what we have really been doing. We have tons of guys who are able to make plays -- you saw Nik today making really good decisions coming off ball screens; we need guys like him."
Last season Spike's role was to come in and give Trey a breather. Now he says he is assisting Derrick Walton in finding his way out on the floor as a freshman.
"D-Walt is my guy. I love D-Walt. Coming in he had a ton of pressure on him, I'm sure. Trey Burke was a sophomore last year, but Trey had trouble his freshman year as well. Derrick is really starting to come together. The game is really starting to slow down for him and he is getting better each day. I just like talking to him, helping him out as much as I can. He is a really good kid."
At times Albrecht is under-appreciated for what he brings to the table for the Wolverine team. Coach Beilein likes the way Spike leads on offense -- but it is his defense where Coach really wants him to get after it.
"Spike really makes our team better when he is out there," Coach B says. "The thing we have challenged him with -- with his (limited) size he has to be an incredible defender. He cannot be a regular defender with his size. He has to buy into, 'This is what I do to help my team -- not just pass it,' and he is answering both of those."
With the Big Ten season moving into its second full week, Albrecht will be depended on to contribute every game and fill the role this team has for him.
Spike understands his role for the Wolverines
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