It was vintage Spike Albrecht on Tuesday night, as everyone’s favorite not-actually-a-walk-on point guard finished 11 points and nine assists without a turnover, hitting a three with 31 seconds left to lead No. 17 Michigan to a 68-65 win over Syracuse.
Albrecht had nine points and six assists in the second half alone. For a team with a back court that includes Caris LeVert, Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, it’s surprising to hear that a kid who got his first scholarship offer — from UMass-Lowell — midway through his post-grad year was the star.
He wasn’t alone, either.
Ricky Doyle, another unknown on Michigan’s roster, shined as well. He finished with 12 points and six boards, five of which came on the offensive end of the floor. They also did this:
Back before the season began, I said that the play of redshirt freshman big man Mark Donnal would be the key to the Michigan season.
I was right and wrong. A different big man, Doyle, has a chance to be the difference maker for this group this year. What the Wolverines do not have on their roster this season is a Jordan Morgan, a strong, physical low-post presence that will defend hard, rebound hard, screen hard and do all of the dirty work while, you guessed it, playing hard.
He doesn’t need to be Frank Kaminsky or Jahlil Okafor, but he does need to be a guy that keeps possessions alive by getting to the offensive glass. He needs to be a presence in Michigan’s ball-screen action, a guy diving to the rim and dunking if defenses collapse on one of Michigan’s guards. He needs to block some shots and take some charges and do all that dirty work that Morgan did for so long.
And in recent weeks, he has been. In the last four games, Doyle is averaging 10.3 points and 4.3 boards. If he does that all season long, Michigan might end up being the second best team in the Big Ten.
As far as Syracuse is concerned, it was nice to see Trevor Cooney get it going offensively, and Chris McCullough did some really impressive things once he returned to the court after being in foul trouble, but nothing about this performance changes the way that I feel about the Orange.
Kaleb Joseph is not ready for the roll he is being asked to play, which is something I wrote about extensively from New York City last week. He’s going to be a good point guard down the road, but as of right now, he’s overwhelmed. Tonight certainly won’t help his confidence. In the final 15 seconds, he committed two turnovers with Syracuse down by just one point. He airballed a decent looked at a three at the buzzer.
(h/t Vice Sports for the video)