Adam Jardy The Columbus Dispatch
When Andrew Dakich confided that he was probably headed to Ohio State, Max Bielfeldt expressed support for his former Michigan teammate. Then, in the same breath, came a groan.
“I was like, that’s awesome. You’ve got to do it,” Bielfeldt said last week. “It’s an awesome program, it’s going to be the best for you, you’re going to be back home in the Midwest.’ And I go, ‘Oh, man, Spike and I are going to be so mad at you — you’re going to kill the streak.’”
Two seasons ago, Bielfeldt went from Michigan to Indiana as a graduate transfer and helped the Hoosiers win an outright Big Ten title. One year later, Spike Albrecht followed his lead, moving from Michigan to Purdue as a graduate transfer and helping the Boilermakers win the regular-season conference championship.
The chances of Dakich continuing the streak? Well, they didn’t seem good during the summer, or when the Buckeyes were picked to finish 11th in the standings under first-year coach Chris Holtmann. And yet, despite a one-sided loss Thursday at Penn State, the Buckeyes enter Sunday‘s game at No. 22 Michigan tied atop the Big Ten standings with Michigan State with three games to play.
For a third straight year, then, a Michigan Man will have a hand in deciding a Big Ten title for another school.
“What they’re great at is player development,” Albrecht said of Michigan coach John Beilein and his program. Dakich “may not fill up the stat sheet, but the intangibles and what he brings to the floor in terms of leadership and communication, that stuff is invaluable. That’s what makes Andrew such a great player and inevitably is the reason why he’s having so much success.”
It was not a situation that Beilein was particularly comfortable with when Bielfeldt was looking for a landing place because the Wolverines did not have a scholarship for him for a fifth season; Bielfeldt had redshirted as a freshman.
Michigan‘s policy, Bielfeldt said, was barring transfers within the conference or to a team that was on the next season‘s schedule. Albrecht’s career looked to be over because of injuries early during his senior season, and as a result, Michigan did not have a spot for him when he opted to take a medical redshirt and pursue a fifth year.
Dakich redshirted as a senior walk-on at Michigan and was going to play for Quinnipiac this season but didn’t gain entrance into his chosen academic program. That led to a call from Holtmann and the promise to have a role on what figured to be a rebuilding season.
“Obviously every kid’s dream is to play, but if I play (whatever) number of minutes, great,” Dakich said before the season. “My ultimate goal is to win and have fun with these guys and enjoy my last year of eligibility where it’s one of my best years.”
On last week’s episode of “The Journey” on the Big Ten Network, Beilein discussed Dakich’s transfer with a smile and said he’s glad to have been a part of his past “so he can have this great present right now.”
Bielfeldt and Albrecht credited Beilein for the success they had as graduate transfers, and for what Dakich has been able to do this season.
“I think the unique thing about us three is we get along with people well, so putting ourselves in a new situation, we can mold into where we’re needed, which I think Andrew is doing a fantastic job of this year,” Bielfeldt said.