UM fans pay tribute to Albrecht, LeVert

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Michigan guard Caris LeVert, left, and guard Spike Albrecht, right, are honored during "Senior Night" before the game against Iowa at Crisler Center.

Ann Arbor — Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert began their Michigan careers in the spotlight.

They ended their Michigan careers in suits.

The guards, who helped the Wolverines to the NCAA championship game as freshman, were honored before Saturday's regular-season finale, Senior Night at Crisler Center.

Both have been out most of the season with injuries.

But their contributions weren't lost on the fans, who gave each a roaring ovation as they made their way through the tunnel, and held aloft their framed jerseys presented to them by John Beilein.

"It's been a great four years," Beilein said. "To say they were under-the-radar recruits would be true.

"Both of them, we just had a great feel that they would be really good players here, and they certainly were."

LeVert suffered a foot injury in the Big Ten opener, and missed 16 of the final 17 conference games.

Albrecht, who had two hip surgeries in the offseason, played eight games early on, until the pain became too much and he had to shut it down. He played just enough to keep a redshirt and possibly play another season at Michigan or someplace else, but he said earlier in the week he hasn't made a decision on that yet.

The Wolverines (20-11, 10-8) lost to Iowa, 71-61, to put their NCAA Tournament hopes in serious jeopardy.

LeVert and Albrecht's injuries, you can't help it, leads to a lot of "what-if" talk.

"What team wouldn't be hurt where the guys that logged in so many minutes and won so many game, you just took them away," Derrick Walton Jr. said. "We don't make excuses. We just know that those minutes they have and that experience they have is irreplaceable.

"Two guys like that are pivotal to this team."

Where Michigan might've missed them both was in crunch time — like when the Wolverines got within five, after being down 15, in the second half against the Hawkeyes.

With the crowd pumping and the bench jumping, though, Michigan lacked good decision-making.

Decision-making was a strength of LeVert, who had a triple-double earlier this year, and Albrecht, best known for that out-of-nowhere 17-point performance against Louisville in the 2013 title game.

Beilein acknowledged his seniors poise has been a big void for this team this season. In three of its last four losses, at Maryland, at Wisconsin and against Iowa, it had chances late, but a timely mistake or two blew things up.

"We missed them in every moment," Beilein said of LeVert and Albrecht. "In the beginning of games, in the end of games, in practice, in the locker room."