As the Nebraska basketball team takes the court this week in Spain, the Huskers will be without a handful of key players, including most of their frontcourt.
Josiah Allick is among the Huskers who won’t be suiting up. He’s still recovering from his second ankle surgery in as many years. Though he’ll be stuck on the sidelines in Spain, he’s ahead of schedule according to Coach Fred Hoiberg and should be ready to go once the team starts up preseason workouts again in August.
“Obviously, this is my my second go-around; I got my other ankle done last year,” Allick said before the Huskers departed for their trip. “But definitely in a good place right now, especially just on the trajectory I’m on. I haven’t had any hiccups and have just been able to kind of continue to progress, and they’ve been doing a great job just monitoring me. Obviously, I’ve gotten very frustrated with some of the pace we’ve been moving at, but I’ve just got to keep that trust in the medical staff and what they have planned for me and just the rehab and progression that our strength coach, Kurt [Jospeh], and trainer, Andrew [McCabe], have put in place for me. But so far, I’ve been feeling really good with everything. Definitely feeling optimistic.”
Allick said he felt a major difference after having his left ankle surgically repaired last year and is hoping strengthening the right one as well will allow him to make another big leap in explosiveness and defensive versatility.
“I was kind of playing with one flat wheel, and so if I can get that one back and just kind of be able to focus on just playing and not trying not to roll my ankle every two minutes, I think it could lead to some pretty exciting stuff,” Allick said.
While he’s been very limited in what he can do on the court since his arrival, Allick said the group as a whole has really clicked this summer and has gotten a great start on building camaraderie off the court.
“I’ve started to work into some of the 5-on-0 stuff on the court, so I’ve been able to kind of be out there with the guys and just try to bring some energy that way,” Allick said. “But I’m not with them on the court, I’m usually on the side doing my own extra work with either Kurt or Andrew or doing individual workouts with Coach Nate [Loenser] or some of our GAs after practice or during practice. But the great part about this team that I’ve touched on previously is this is a very collective group of guys. We don’t really have any, I guess you’d call them cliques … This is a group where if guys want to go hang out or go do something, it’s just like a text in a group chat or guys just talking in the locker room. It’s not really even like an invitation, it’s just us kind of talking about plans and guys go. So it’s kind of been nice to build those connections early on just through June and July.”
The Spain trip will allow the Huskers to continue building those bonds on and off the court, even if the squad won’t be anywhere near full strength. Based on what Allick has seen and heard, though, he’s very much looking forward to seeing the whole picture once everyone is together and healthy.
“Obviously it’s been kind of a unique situation,” Allick said. “We got Brice [Williams] in July. We just lost Rienk [Mast] after having him in June in July. We lost Keisei [Tominaga], obviously, for the summer, and he’ll be back. Obviously, I wish him the best, but I’d like him back sooner than later. We just signed [Matar Diop] last night and so he’ll be joining us in August. And then maybe one more. So I’m definitely really looking forward to kind of getting everybody back together and really learning and getting to experience everybody’s tendencies.”
One player Allick is particularly excited about learning to play with is Tominaga, the team’s leading returning scorer who developed great chemistry with another Husker big man in Derrick Walker last season.
“Obviously I’ve heard a lot about Keisei, who’s going to be a major part of our offense this year, and just kind of how exciting and kind of sporadic he can be on the court,” Allick said. “My job and the role I like to take on is being a really good just kind of glue guy and facilitator and finding those areas where I can really just take the team up another level, and so kind of learning his tendencies and just movements and his feel for the game in person is going to be really valuable. He’ll probably be back by about the time I’m going 5-on-5 with the team, so I’m not really in any super rush with that. But I’m definitely looking forward to kind of getting to really feel it.
“I’ve been building my scouting reports from the sideline, getting back so that way I can give guys a nice defensive presence once I’m back on the court, but obviously it’s better being able to actually be out there than just having to watch.”
Allick won’t have to wait too much longer before joining his teammates on the court, but in the mean time he’ll continue to watch, learn and encourage from the sidelines.