Jr. PG Spike Albrecht; 5-foot-11, 175 lbs.
Spike wasn't thought of as much of a threat to when he committed to Michigan in the summer of 2012 as Trey Burke flirted with his NBA dreams and the Wolverines needed a backup plan at point guard. Even the most confident John Beilein supporters had to scratch their head at that move. But true to form, Beilein had uncovered yet another overlooked high school player with an ability to contribute at the college level. Spike was a ~10 minute per game source of relief for Trey Burke and handled the role well, chipping in a few surprise threes and assists as a freshman before blowing up in the national championship game and building a profile that color commentators would proceed to beat into the ground.
As a sophomore, Spike took on a bit more of a central role, playing anywhere from 10-25 minutes of game time and handling the point at key times when freshman Derrick Walton struggled. Albrecht was a steady hand when needed in a big way (7 pts, 7 asts, 4 stls vs. Iowa with Walton out sick), and a jolt to the offense when used off the bench.
Spike's numbers improved almost universally between year one and year two, with only his three point percentage going from astronomical to still very reasonable.
- Shot creation: Spike's first year was spent as a three point gunner off the bench, but in year two he made the typical point guard jump as the game slowed down for him, which allowed his assist rate to improve ten points while his turnover rate dropped. Albrecht became much more of a threat to set up the rest of the offense, which had a valuable effect with his increased time on the court. He isn't often going to break a defense down to find his own shot, but he is skilled at finding the open man on the move, and his command for John Beilein's complex offense is unmatched.
- Three-point shooting: He wasn't going to match 54% from outside in year two, just like he wasn't going to drop 17 points in the second half of the national championship game a couple years ago. However, Spike's drop off was less a drop than a regression to a pretty good mean. He shot about twice as many threes (62 to 33 as a freshman) and still made them at a 38% clip, which is still impressive. Of course, two-thirds of those shots came from outside, and 75% of them were assisted, painting a pretty clear picture of a spot up threat from three. In John Beilein's offense, there are plenty of opportunities for that, especially from an undersized point guard playing off the ball.
- Defense: This is just one of those things that isn't ever going to happen for Spike. He is wily enough to come up with a few big plays here and there (his steal vs. Iowa on the fast break is a prime example), but overall his strength and athleticism just isn't sufficient to match up with bigger point guards, much less off guards or forwards. This will likely keep Spike's role defined as that of a career backup, although his defensive weaknesses aren't such that he is totally marginalized on this roster. Very much the opposite: John Beilein has made the most out of his backup point guard and has done a good job to mitigate the other issues.
Spike has come in for praise this off-season, and is looking likely to take on more of a leadership role as he is suddenly one of the most experienced guys on the roster. Even last year his teammates were looking to him to lead the team, and his coaches think so much of him this year that he was one of Michigan's two representatives to Big Ten Media Day. He likely won't turn into a threat to score in the double digits each night, and his percentage of shots at the rim and his ability to hit those will stay relatively low, but Albrecht has a big role on this team and will be an important component in Michigan thriving offensively once again this year. He should play an average of 15 minutes per game, dish out a couple assists per game, and keep a low turnover number all year long. He will also have at least one game where he steps up big reminding everyone that he really can play at this level.
Not that we should need that reminder by now.