The speech of the off-season remains the speech of the 2022-23 season for Lobo basketball.
In order to take the next step, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team must evolve from a small, fast-paced, guard-focused team that can only win games with scores in the 80s and 90s, and instead be a team that can put on ugly, low-scoring games against big, physical teams. That’s something they frankly didn’t get a chance to accomplish last season, when they went 13-19 overall and 5-12 at Mountain West.
At the first open media practice of the preseason on Wednesday — a season that still doesn’t begin for another six weeks with the Nov. 7 opener in the Pit — the change to the new look, the more physical Lobos were on full display.
And while everyone on the roster is a bit stronger and more ready for the physique needed this season, there’s no doubt the makeover is still starring in the addition of 6ft 8in transfers Morris Udeze from Wichita State and Josiah Allick of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“I mean, they’re monsters out there,” said Jamal Mashburn, the junior guard who is the team’s leading returning scorer and one of two returning All-Mountain West players.
“I mean, we can throw the ball over there and (they) will shake things up. They’re gonna get clogged up or it’s gonna be a bucket. It changes a lot for our team in a positive way – defensively and offensively. … They take up so much space that it opens things up for the guards. It will make us so much better.
Second-year coach Richard Pitino says he believes the Lobos can still be a top offensive team. But he said the physique added in the offseason – with the existing players in the weight room as well as the additions of Udeze and Allick – was key to building a more complete squad.
” That’s all. That’s what San Diego State has. That’s what Boise, who won last year – they’ve got it. They have size. They have physicality,” Pitino said. He joked that he told Boise State coach Leon Rice that the Jan. 22 game in which his Broncos beat San Diego State 42-37 on national television “shouldn’t have to be shown on television. … It was awful.
“But they got the win. That’s what great teams do. They could win anyway. We couldn’t do that last year. We could win up and down, maybe win in the 90s and 80s. We couldn’t win in a rock fight. That’s physics. You will see a much bigger, stronger and tougher team than last year, that’s for sure.
HE SAID IT: Mashburn (18.2 ppg) and fellow All-Mountain West returning Jaelen House (16.9 ppg) combined about 47% of UNM’s scoring last season, and they now enter the season with high expectations. is considered one of the best running backs in the conference, if not all of college basketball.
Both have NBA bloodlines that were part of their intense off-season training — Mashburn in Florida, House in Arizona.
With that as a backdrop, Mashburn was asked on Wednesday, “What’s next for this backyard?”
“Winning. Just winning,” Mashburn said sadly. “I think we’ve shown it’s hard to stay in front of us, you know? We can put the ball in the basket. to win ?
“Equivalent” means “to assimilate, consider or make equal or equivalent to (or with)”.