Dakich gets Michigan, Ohio State alums to team up in TBT 2018

 

By: Danny Holdsman | @DHoldsman


Andrew Dakich might be the only guy on the planet capable of making this happen

When the average American sports fan thinks about rivalries, a handful immediately come to mind. The Red Sox and Yankees have been bitter enemies since 1901. Duke versus North Carolina is one of the most anticipated games on the college basketball schedule. Overseas, Real Madrid and Barcelona shutdown Spain whenever they square up on the pitch.

But, if you are from the Midwest, nothing trumps Michigan versus Ohio State. Whether it be on the gridiron, ice, or hardwood, these two respective powerhouse programs have certainly had no love lost over the years.

So, to say it was a shock when Andrew Dakich decided to leave Michigan and play his final year of college basketball at Ohio State would be an understatement. In line with this, Dakich recently added one more surprise of his own to the rivalry by putting together a team for #TBT2018, which features alums from both programs. Big X - named after the Big Ten Conference - is one of the newer entries to the field, but has already received the fourth most supporters in the Midwest Region.

“We knew that having players from both teams could make both schools support us or both root against us because they wouldn’t want to see us play together,” said Dakich. “Fortunately, the fan support has been positive. It’s been more Michigan support so far because we’ve had Mo Wagner be our vocal piece on social media, but I’m sure there’s been support from both sides.”

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In reality, the creation of Big X wasn’t some attempt by Dakich to make peace between the respective fan bases, but rather he saw TBT as an opportunity to prolong his own playing career.

“It really wasn’t about bringing Michigan and Ohio State together,” said Dakich. “I know it kind of looks like that.”

“After the NCAA Tournament, I realized that my basketball career was coming to an end. I’ve always loved watching TBT. I saw the Ohio State alumni team and thought maybe I should put in a team of my own. These are just my guys from Michigan and my guys from Ohio State whom I thought were really good basketball players and will probably be playing overseas, if not in the G-League or even the NBA.”

 

Dakich’s teammates on Big X include former Michigan Wolverines Stu Douglass, Jon Horford, and Duncan Robinson, as well as Buckeye alums Jae’Sean Tate and Kam Williams. As Dakich admits, he’s the “odd-man out” on his team in terms of accomplishments on the court.

Robinson was named the 2018 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year and helped lead Michigan to a conference tournament title and an appearance in the National Championship. Horford was a member of Michigan’s 2012-13 team that also made it to the title game and is currently in the G-League. Douglass set the record for most games played by a Michigan basketball player in school history (136). Tate averaged double figures in points over his last three seasons at Ohio State and was named Second-Team All-Big Ten in 2018. Lastly, Williams averaged 7.9 points in his 133-game career as a Buckeye.

Not only does Dakich have close relationships with this cast of former Wolverines and Buckeyes, but also the head coach. Dakich hand-picked Jay Shunnar, a three-year basketball player at Toledo University who finished his degree at Michigan, to lead Big X. Shunnar, a native of Ann Arbor, has lived with various Michigan basketball players over the past few years, including Spike Albrecht, Caris LeVert, Duncan Robinson, and Mo Wagner. He currently serves as the head varsity basketball coach at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, leading the team to a 33-11 record over his first two seasons.

“He’s just a really good friend of ours and a great guy, so it was a pretty easy decision to make him the head coach,” said Dakich. “I know he’ll do a really good job with this.”

Andrew is not the only Dakich involved with Big X. The team’s booster is Andrew’s father and current ESPN college hoops analyst and radio host Dan Dakich. Dan played under Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight at Indiana and later coached at his alma mater and Bowling Green. Andrew’s career has linked Dan to three of the more prominent Big Ten basketball programs, but Andrew says that his father’s loyalties don’t lie with one school over any other.

“He’s just a supporter of the Big Ten overall,” said the younger Dakich.

 

Following TBT, Dakich will head back to Ohio State to finish his masters in sports coaching and will be a graduate assistant under Coach Chris Holtmann. The opportunity awaiting Dakich excites him, but he’s not quite ready to trade in his jersey for a suit and tie.

“I just want to play one more time, give it my all, and enjoy the organized sport before I do something else with my life,” said Dakich. “Winning it all would be the perfect ending in my book.”

Dakich knows that he still has promoting to do to ensure Big X’s spot in #TBT2018 before the application period concludes.

“I’m just looking at the standings and hoping we get in by June 1,” said Dakich. “That’s my only concern right now.”