Controlled aggression: New Lobos must set physical tone without fouling - Albuquerque Journal

Controlled aggression: New Lobos must set physical tone without fouling

Wichita State transfer Morris Udeze, left, and University of Missouri Kansas City transfer Josiah Allick, right, are the new big men for the UNM Lobos men’s basketball team for the 2022-23 season. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The Lobos needed size, strength and toughness.

They got a couple of former football players who, without question, have the ability to set a tone in the frontcourt by muscling their way through opponents — be it to score, defend or rebound.

But, as both Josiah Allick, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward transfer from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Morris Udeze, a 6-8, 240-pound center transferring from Wichita State, told the Journal, their ability to overpower an opponent often has gotten the best of them in the past.

“I don’t know how to like, slow down, you know?” said Udeze, in an interview last week with the Journal. “But I feel like I’d rather have not slowing down than just being soft and not playing hard enough, you understand? I just got to be smart when it comes to those fouls. The longer I’m on the floor — us (he and Allick) on the floor — it’s gonna help us win. So, I gotta be smart in the area.”

Allick and Udeze sat down with the Journal recently for a wide-ranging conversation about their basketball careers, choosing UNM and roles with the Lobos this season. That conversation, in its entirety, is available on the Talking Grammer podcast on, Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify or here.

And while very little of that conversation actually covered foul trouble, after a closed scrimmage loss to Northern Arizona on Saturday, their comments on that aspect of their game seemed to worthy of some attention.

Because it was a scrimmage and players didn’t actually foul out of the 40-minute contest, Udeze committed six fouls in 32 minutes. Allick was better, committing two fouls in 26 minutes on the floor.

Last year at Wichita State, Udeze committed 5.38 fouls per 40 minutes played, according to KenPom.com. That ranked 63rd out of 63 players who qualified for that ranking by playing at least 40% of their team’s minutes. He fouled out five times and reached four fouls in seven other games.

Allick committed 4.86 fouls per 40 minutes, ranking 60th out of 64 qualifying players in the Summit league. He fouled out twice and reached four fouls in seven other games while playing just 17 games last season due to an injury.

For comparison, the highest fouls-per-40 minutes rating for the Lobos last year was guard KJ Jenkins at 3.72 fouls per 40 minutes.

But fouling as defensive-minded big men isn’t uncommon. Last year’s Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah, averaged 4.52 fouls per 40 minutes, so Udeze and Allick are in that realm.

Still, they know to help the Lobos, they’ve got to play physical without fouling this season.

“I talk a lot about physicality and I take I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Allick said. “It used to really mess with me if anybody ever scored. Like, if anyone got a single bucket on me, I felt like I completely failed as a player. It used to really mess with me, so I would try to do everything possible to not let somebody score, whether that meant hitting him upside the head or riding him out of bounds, you know? And obviously, that’s not smart basketball.

“You may stop them for that one play, and they may have to go to the free throw or whatever, but now that I’m not on the court for the next 15 minutes of the game (because of foul trouble), that’s gonna give up more buckets than just that two (point shot he fouled on in the first place).”

The full statlines for the two new Lobos in Saturday’s closed scrimmage — a 69-67 loss to NAU — looked like this:

■ Allick: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4-7 shooting (1-1 3-pointers), two fouls committed and four fouls drawn.

■ Udeze: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 4-10 shooting, 6 fouls committed, 4 fouls drawn.

POLL POSITION: The Mountain West had two teams represented in Monday’s Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll — one ranked team and one in the “others receiving votes” category.

San Diego State starts the season as “No. 19 San Diego State”, appearing on 59 of a possible 62 voter ballots with a high vote of No. 12 by Jerry Carino of Gannett New Jersey newspapers.

Wyoming is not ranked in the preseason poll, but with 25 points by appearing on 11 ballots sits nine spots out of the Top 25. Dave Borges of the New Haven (Conn.) Register had the Cowboys’ highest ranking at No. 19.

The Mountain West’s preseason media poll will be released Wednesday morning.

COMING UP: The Lobos host their Cherry/Silver game on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Pit. Admission and parking is free.

The event will feature player introductions, a 20-minute scrimmage, dunk contest and 3-point contest.

PODCAST: The full 50-episode archive of the Talking Grammer podcast, including this week’s episode with Udeze and Allick, can be found at the following links:

SoundCloud
iTunes
Spotify
The Journal’s podcast archive page

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