Rich addresses men's basketball team's voluntary summer workouts.
July 13, 2007
NORMAN, Okla. - College basketball practice begins in mid-October, but Oklahoma's men's basketball players have been voluntarily putting in quality hours in the weight room this summer in preparation for the 2007-08 season.
Presiding over the Sooners' strength workouts this summer has been Darby Rich. Now in his fourth season as the men's basketball team's strength and conditioning coach, Rich sat down with SoonerSports.com this week to talk about the progress of OU's players in the weight room and the types of exercises he puts them through this time of year.
What are the players allowed to do in terms of working out during the summer months?
"The players can do anything they want as far as working out and playing on their own. They just can't work with the basketball staff in terms of the head coach and assistant coaches. The NCAA makes it to where, skill-wise, the coaches can't spend time with the players on the floor, so the core of their summer skill work is getting into the gym and putting in the hours on their own. Whether it be with a partner or on one of the shooting "guns," there is plenty of opportunity to improve if that is what they want to do. The NCAA also allows strength and conditioning coaches to work with the players in the summer, whether it be in the weight room or out on the court doing footwork and agility drills."
What type of strength and conditioning program do you have set up for the guys during the summer and how is it different from what you put them through immediately before and during the season?
"The summer is a time where our guys can really gain strength and add weight. Our workouts are longer, heavier, and there are more reps involved. We try to not do a lot of things during the summer that we won't do during the season because I think it is important for the guys' bodies to perform the same movements both in season and out. In the summer, because we are not worried about upcoming games, we can go a lot heavier and do some things to really try to pack strength and muscle on the guys."
What are the major differences between off-season workouts for men's basketball and a sport such as football?
"Basketball and football workouts in the weight room are not that different. Your better athletes in basketball are the same athletes playing cornerback, safety, running back and receiver. You basically train athletes the same way. You push them to run faster, react quicker, and become more explosive.
"During the summer, football has to spend more time on conditioning because the summer takes them right into training camp. The time they spend conditioning, we will spend on foot work, jump training, and lateral quickness work. We don't do as much base-conditioning. We will do that with the seven weeks we have from the start of school to the start of practice. It you added conditioning to the amount of time these guys spend working out and playing pick-up games, they could never take in enough calories to make any real weight and strength gains."
Have you been pleased with the performance of the players in the weight room this summer?
"I have been pleased so far. This is the first summer since I have been here that we have had this many guys here. We actually have everyone in the program here right now. Whether it was waiting on junior college kids to graduate, Taj Gray playing USA Basketball, or Keith Clark's situation last summer, we were always without important guys. I think it is making a huge difference with the way the guys are working, as now they are working for each other as much as themselves.
"I think Longar Longar has really improved his strength and is finally gaining weight. He could still add some weight, but genetically he is never going to hold a lot of weight in his legs like we would like for him to. He was 239 pounds in the weight room today, so probably without shoes he is 235. He is really, really working hard. To be honest, all of the post players are working hard. 'Moose' (Clark) has jumped right back into things with Blake Griffin, Taylor Griffin, Beau Gerber and Longar. Add Ryan Wright to the mix and you have six guys who really like to compete.
"Austin Johnson has actually started to gain weight. He is starting to look a little bigger and been pushing himself harder than he has in the past. Tony Crocker has gotten stronger, though he has only been able to gain about five pounds. There is no one right now I am disappointed in, but I think all of them can use these last few weeks to push even harder."
With five new players on the team, what is your sense about team chemistry thus far?
"I think our chemistry is good right now. The guys seem to really enjoy being around each other. My office is next to the locker room, and I hear more guys in there more often, hanging out and doing things together. They are more vocal in terms of encouraging each other. Since we do have 12 guys here, they are able to play more often and the games are much more competitive. Overall, I think the way the summer is unfolding will definitely help us out once the season gets here."