Michigan Basketball: Why Spike Albrecht Will Be U-M's Unsung Hero in 2014-15

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Michigan Basketball: Why Spike Albrecht Will Be U-M's Unsung Hero in 2014-15
Tony Ding/Associated Press
Those who know about Spike Albrecht are well aware of his worth to Michigan.

Michael Albrecht isn't a household name in college basketball. 

In fact, most of those outside of the Big Ten only know of the Michigan junior guard because of his unique nickname, "Spike," which pays homage to a childhood favorite. 

"I got [the nickname] when I was like 5 years old," he said during an interview in 2013 with MGoBlue TV's Michelle Roberts. "I got my first pair of baseball spikes...I'm a big baseball fan...Baseball was like my favorite sport growing up. When I got them, I just started wearing them everywhere. I was wearing them out to church, out to eat. People just started calling me 'Spike.'

"I think my grandpa started calling me 'Spike.' It just kind of stuck..."

His nickname "stuck," and so has his value, which sometimes slides under the radar but shouldn't be discounted. For the past two seasons, the 5'11", 175-pounder has found a way to peak when coach John Beilein needs him to most.

Due to the loss of Nik Stauskas, Beilein's going to need another experienced guard to help ease the transition and knock down buckets from wherever. 

Albrecht can do that. In fact, he already has. 

As a freshman, he backed up Trey Burke, the 2013 Naismith and Wooden Award winner. It was a tall order to fill, but Spike held his own, clocking valuable minutes while the star of the show took a breather. 

Easily the most impressive of his collegiate exploits, he unleashed his range by scoring a career-best 17 points during Michigan's 82-76 national-title loss to Louisville in 2013. His 4-for-5 burst from deep (we're talking miles, here) was enough to make Stauskas blush.  

Let's put this in other terms: Spike is that cool song on that cool unknown band's new album that no one's ever heard. You either know about him or you don't.

 

Spike the Punch

Tony Ding/Associated Press

As a sophomore, Ablrecht shot 38.7 percent from long distance. Again, not a blow-you-away stat, but the here-and-there offerings certainly have helped with the overall flow. As a role player, he also helped Michigan reach the Final Four and Elite Eight. 

Not only has he been reliable from the perimeter, but he's also been good for a couple assists and an occasional steal. He does what he can when he can do it. 

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Case in point: Michigan's 72-70 loss to then-No. 1-ranked Arizona this past year. Albrecht's season-high 10 points kept the game in reach for Beilein. Also worthy of mention, his pair of  free throws when trailing 53-48 helped the Wolverines close the gap on the Spartans during their 80-75 win at the Breslin Center back in January. 

Albrecht fits the mold of the classic underdog. He's not about flash or personal recognition; he's all about playing together with teammates as one, which couldn't have been more evident when he earned the 2013-14 Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award. 

He probably won't score 20 per night or make the Mothership's highlight reel on a regular basis. But he'll make his baskets count, as he's done for two years. 

With a new supporting cast on its way, along with the return of mainstays such as Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, now wouldn't be a bad time to start singing the song of the unsung who's never missed a game. 

In all likelihood, it'll be a familiar tune in 2014-15. 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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