Monday, October 29, 2012

So who is Chris Udofia and is he enough to overcome a team height disadvantage??

University of Denver's Chris Udofia is receiving praise and predictions as one of the top, if not the top, performer in the Western Athletic Conference in the upcoming 2012-13 season.

Denver is new to the WAC so very few have seen Udofia in action.

For the record, he averaged 14.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 30 minutes of action a game as a sophomore. Udofia shot 57% overall, 72% from the foul line and 29% from long distance. His blocked shots totaled 74 and he posted an 82/74 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Plus, he sports a 3.5 grade point average.

Also for the sake of reference, check out his statistics as a freshman: 8.3 points, 50%, 62% and 26% shooting, 39 blocked shots and a 40/41 assist-to-turnover ratio -- in 29 minutes a contest.

He definitely plays bigger than his 6-foot-6 frame.

In the Sun Belt Conference last season, Denver went 11-5 (22-9 overall). The season featured home victories over very athletic Southern Mississippi and a St. Mary's squad with Rob Jones and Brad Waldow plus at Utah State (against the latter, Udofia had 15 points, six rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes while the Pioneers shot 52% overall, 40% from three-point range and lost the battle of the boards 27-22). Additionally, Coach Joe Scott's team beat Mountain West Conference member Wyoming at home but lost to Colorado State of the MWC on the road.

The Pioneers will certainly miss leading scorer Brian Stafford (he shot 50% overall, 46% on treys) but Udofia plus returnees Royce O'Neale (leading rebounder at 5.8), Brett Olson and Chase Hallam are a very solid heart of a team.

It's worth noting that 6-foot-7, 225-pound Rob Lewis, the starter in the middle last season, has graduated, taking his 7.4 point and 3.2 rebound averages per game with him. For the record, Scott was putting out Lewis, 6-foot-6 Udofia, 6-foot-4 Stafford, 6-foot-5 Chase Hallam and 6-foot-5 Brett Olsen as his opening quintet. It's not a tall group but very good-sized for the wing and guard positions.

All this leaves a legitimate question for Denver this season: where's the beef?

In 2012-13, 6-foot-8, 220-pound Jake Logan is a redshirt freshman and Dom Samac a 6-foot-9, 200-pound true frosh. 6-foot-7, 215-pound Marcus Byrd also sat out his initial college season.

That's it for possibilities vis-a-vis matchups in the middle.

On the other hand, New Mexico State will feature 6-foot-10, 270-pound Chili Nephawe, with 7-foot-5 Sim Bhuller as his backup.

The trio of 6-foot-10, 235-pound Jarred Shaw, 6-foot-10, 270-pound Jordan Stone and 6-foot-11, 245-pound Matt Lopez have Utah State fans dreaming of a bounty of points, rebounds and blocked shots in the paint.

The road to the WAC championship will definitely wind through Las Cruces and Logan -- there are no alternate routes. Obviously, some think Denver also.

Now Scott's offensive framework may negate needing power players inside but it's harder to mask that absence defensively.

For the record, the Pioneers were a -4 per game in overall rebounding in 2011-12 and shot 77 less free throws.

On the flip side, Denver was a +42 in blocked shots, a +69 in steals, shot 49% to 44% overall and committed 78 less turnovers.

Can Udofia carry the Pioneer frontcourt, and with his teammates, overcome a lack of size?

Some think so, but that's why the games are played.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've watched Udofia for the last two years in Denver. He's a freakish athlete in terms of jumping ability and he does play bigger than 6-6. He's put on more weight recently (15-20 lbs) , so he should be able to establish position better than he did as his beanpole build his first two years.

He's also very smart - That 3.5 GPA is in integrated sciences, a very tough major at Denver. He is very much a thinking person's player, and was overlooked in HS recruiting as too raw a talent. He fits well in Denver's scheme and it will be interesting to see how well DU can match up in the taller WAC.

What makes Denver difficult is they all can shoot and the Princeton offense is very hard for opponents to duplicate in practice due to it's complexity and the intelligence required to run it as designed. It's all about creating open shots.