Aug 26, 2015
Inside Virginia Men’s Basketball’s Strong Summer

The University of Virginia men’s basketball players have all made gains in their offseason strength training, but those gains are not always in the number of pounds. Strength and Conditioning Coach and T&C contributor Mike Curtis tailors training plans to each athlete to target specific weaknesses.

Head Coach Tony Bennett told that the biggest changes in players often happen between their first and second seasons. This was true for Isaiah Wilkins who has gained 25 pounds of mostly muscle since enrolling at UVA.

“That was probably one of the limitations he had last year,” Curtis said. “He’s already undersized in terms of height. I think being a little more comparable in terms of weight will add some benefit. He’s gotten strong enough now where those battles he was losing in the paint last year, he should be able to win more of those than he loses this year.”

For other athletes, improving body composition was the goal. Swingman Marial Shayok gained only one pound but lost some body fat and added muscle. Freshman Jarred Reuter went from 272 pounds to 250.

“[Jarred] was a decent mover, and at his size, he already had a decent level of strength,” Curtis said. “The biggest thing was to try and get him to look a little more like a basketball player and move more efficiently.”

Efficient movement was also a goal for center Jack Salt, who red-shirted last year but gained a reputation in practice for his aggressive style.

“[The plan] was to continue to try and make Jack a monster,” Curtis said. “Jack already had that kind of mentality with his approach to things and we stacked a little strength on that, and he’s moving a lot better than he was before. You put all those things together — more efficient movement, stronger body — it will help him in his pursuit to gain playing time over the course of the year. I think his ability to avoid obstacles and things like that will be better just because he’s a little more efficient as a mover. He won’t be running into people or stumbling into people.”  

For his upperclassmen, Curtis focused on building more “elastic and reactive” abilities. He also capitalized on the motivation of the athletes who are facing their last college season.

“I think Mike [Tobey] finally realized there’s only one more year left,” Curtis said. “I think he just got to a place where four years goes by so fast, and it finally hit him that this is his last opportunity to do something special here.

“They’ve all worked hard, gotten stronger and made gains,” he continued. “But like every year, you don’t really know until you get into five-on-five competition.”

Read more about Curtis’ individualized approach in this article he recently wrote for T&C.

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