ROSEMONT, Ill. — Spike Albrecht met with media in Chicago on Thursday as part of Big Ten Media Day. The junior guard discussed his surprising recruiting story, his improvements as a leader, and his expected role on the team during the upcoming season.
On Caris LeVert being named to the preseason All-Big Ten team … “We’re looking for big things from C-Lev. He continues to get stronger and stronger each day. He’s playing really, really well right now shooting the ball. He has a lot of confidence in himself. We’re going to need him to have a big year for us.”
On the Wolverines flying under the radar … “I think we can be really good. We don’t worry about rankings or anything like that, especially in the preseason. The Big Ten’s going to be loaded again. We’ve just got to continue to get better and better each day, and have these freshmen and guys who haven’t played big minutes before, we’re going to need them to move along quickly and pick things up because we’re going to need them to help us out a lot this season.”
On motivation from making the Final Four in 2012-13 … “It definitely drives you. You want to get back. You get a little taste of what it’s like, playing in the Final Four and playing in the National Championship game and how much fun that was. Coming so close to a National Championship our freshman year and falling just short of the Final Four last year, that’s definitely motivation and something that drives us each day.”
On his changing leadership style ... “I’ve always been more a lead-by-example type of guy. I go out there, work hard, try to do things the right way. Something I’ve really worked on this year and coaches have kind of urged me to do more of is to be more of a vocal leader. I’m the oldest guy on the team. Caris and myself, we’ve been here for three years. We’ve seen what it’s like, we know what the grind of the Big Ten is like. Just trying to be more of a vocal leader this year is something I’ve been working on.
“Sometimes you’ve gotta get on guys, you’ve gotta push them. But you have to push them to get better, because you’re going to need them to help win games. But also just talking to guys on the side, building relationships with players, things of that nature.”
On how often he’s reminded of his first half vs. Louisville ... “When I’m speaking to basketball people, probably every time. That’s what most people remember me from. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape.”
On being offered by only Appalachian State and Michigan … “I was at prep school, I was about three-quarters of the way through the season. I was having a really good season, my team was doing really well, and I still wasn’t getting any looks or offers or anything and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Then, all of a sudden, my prep school coach comes up to me and was like, ‘Hey, I got an interesting call today. Michigan called.’ And I was like, ‘The University of Michigan?’ I was in complete shock. I thought he was messing with me.”
On playing in the Big Ten after considering skipping college basketball altogether … “It’s insane. I was literally like three weeks from not playing college basketball. I was just going to go to IU for school and just go and study and hang out. I didn’t think I was going to get a chance to play college basketball at a Division I level. That’s all I wanted to do. And then less than a year later I’m playing in a national championship game and I’m actually on the floor. It’s surreal.”
On contrasting leadership tactics with LeVert … “Everyone asks if we’re like good cop, bad cop. But it’s not like that. Caris is like the epitome of a lead-by-example type of guy. He’s an absolute gym rat, a really, really hard worker. He’s built that respect from his team just through what he’s done over his two years here.
“I’m more of a kind of guy who’ll step out of my comfort zone and hold people accountable. Not criticize them, but I’ll get on them.”
On being a spark off the bench … “There’s a number of different guys who I think are capable of doing that. That’s definitely something that I think I do for this team. I come in, kind of like a high-energy guy, I just try to make an impact on the game. That’s what coaches want to come in and do: have a positive impact when I come in and make things happen.”
On personal improvements … “Just continue to get stronger. My body developed, my athleticism. Still not very athletic, but it’s getting better. Scoring, making shots, things like that. Something I have to do a little more this year is score, so I’ve been a little more aggressive, things of that nature.”
On rise of Michigan to a top-tier program … “It’s been an unbelievable experience here for my first two years. It speaks a lot to Coach Beilein and the rest of our staff and what they’ve done here putting Michigan back on the map.”