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Spike Albrecht on return to UM: 'I'm glad it's over'

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Purdue guard Spike Albrecht (55) defends Michigan guard Xavier Simpson (3) in the second half.

Ann Arbor — Spike Albrecht donned a "Los Angeles Hundreds" hat, with a bomb logo on the side.

That about summed up his return to Crisler Center. Albrecht and his Purdue Boilermakers bombed in a remarkably lopsided 82-70 loss to Michigan on Saturday afternoon.

"I should wear it really low today," Albrecht said of his lid, given to him by one of his brothers, "after that performance."

Albrecht was mostly a nonfactor in his return to Ann Arbor, playing 12 minutes, almost all of them in the first half. He missed his only shot, had a pair of assists and three personal fouls.

Crisler was as loud as it has been all season, especially when Michigan went up by 22 in the second half.

And, oddly, a loud Crisler was not a good Crisler for Albrecht, who played here for four years before transferring to Purdue for this, his final year of eligibility.

"Yeah, no, I'm used to it getting loud when I was in there going on runs, not when teams are making runs against you," Albrecht said. "Michigan, obviously, played awesome. They just kicked our ..."

Well, you can fill in the blank.

"That's not how it was supposed to be," Albrecht said.

Purdue (23-16, 12-4 Big Ten) still has a chance at a Big Ten title and a prolonged NCAA Tournament run — two things Albrecht has experienced before, albeit in different uniform colors — but it'll take a minute to get the nasty taste of Saturday out of the mouth.

Albrecht back at Crisler for Senior Day — this time as foe

Albrecht, fittingly, was back at Crisler on Senior Day. He watched as his old teammates Derrick Walton Jr., Zack Irvin, Mark Donnal, Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich were honored during pregame ceremonies, then watched from the bench late in the second half as Lonergan — a seldom-used former walk-on whom Albrecht, thanks to a chance pickup game back home in Indiana, helped get to Michigan as a walk-on — dribbled out the clock.

"It was, like, weirder than I ever could have imagined," said Albrecht, who was playing his first game at Crisler since Dec. 5, 2015. "It was tough, obviously the outcome.

"I'm glad it's over, that's for sure."

Albrecht, 24, played in a national-championship game with Michigan as a freshman, hitting all those 3s — then celebrating, over Twitter, with Kate Upton. He made the Elite Eight the next season. Then the pain started his junior year, and still was there in the hips his senior year, despite offseason surgery.

His last game for Michigan was Dec. 8, 2015, at SMU. The pain was too much. He announced his retirement shortly thereafter, being reconsidering in the spring.

That led to the transfer to Purdue. The season hasn't gone great. He had an early season back injury, and has struggled to live up to his expectations. Still, there are no regrets.

"The biggest thing for me was going out on my own terms," he said, standing outside the visitor's locker room. "I didn't want to have any regrets, saying, 'What if?' At least that's one positive I can walk away from this (with), knowing I gave it my best. I'm not playing as well as I would've liked.

"At the end of the day, I'm still playing on a really good team that has a chance to win the Big Ten."

And, Albrecht will walk away with degrees from two Big Ten schools — a bachelor's in liberal arts from Michigan, and a master's in technology, leadership and innovation from Purdue this August.

"I can't complain about that," he said.

For the most part, Saturday was like any other game day. Because it was an early start, Albrecht didn't have time to get caught up in sentiment, or get distracted by meetings with friends and family.

But after the game, there was Albrecht, still a fan favorite in Ann Arbor, catching up with old teammates, Crisler Center workers and posing for pictures with anyone who asked.

Some things, it turns out, never change.

"I think Michigan will always have a special place in my heart," he said. "I'll always consider it my home."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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