LITTLE ROCK -
UALR's Summer IV session ended on Wednesday, wrapping up a highly successful workout period for the men's basketball team. The Trojans had 13 student-athletes on campus during the final summer session, which provided each of the players a head start on the 2012-13 season through conditioning drills and strength training with Director of Athletic Performance John Barron
Head coach Steve Shields took some time earlier this week to discuss the impact of these workouts on his team:
"I think the biggest positive this summer was that we had guys on campus. Last summer we had a lot of factors that came into play which prevented guys from being on campus during the final summer session, be it injuries, academics or prior commitments. We had a handful of guys here last summer that were able to take advantage of that time to get stronger, but we didn't have our whole team here and that put us behind where we needed to be as fall practice started.
This summer we had 13 guys on campus for the final summer session, and two of our newcomers, Stetson Billings and Mareik Isom, have been here all summer. Having these guys here for at least a part of the summer has been huge. They've been able to work with coach Barron, which has allowed them to get stronger and add weight. With so many new guys on this year's team, having them here to adjust to the demands of Division I workouts and their responsibilities as a student-athlete is critical. The new NCAA rule allowing coaches two hours of on-the-floor instruction during this time period couldn't have come at a better time for us. It really allows us to put some things in place before individual workouts begin after the start of the fall semester.
The elevated importance of these offseason workouts with coach Barron really started when Shane Edwards was here. The way he was able to develop physically, and the impact and results it showed on the court, really helped drive home the importance to our players. Shane was back in Little Rock for awhile this summer, and having a professional player back on campus for his workouts helped reinforce what we're trying to accomplish with our guys through this process.
The biggest positive of having all of these guys on campus is that they have all managed to gain strength and add good weight through workouts and improved eating habits. From the time they first arrived on campus, Gus Leeper has gone from 210 pounds to 250, Michael Javes from 215 to 240, Will Neighbour from 195 to 220, Taggart Lockhart from 195 to 223, and Casey Wilmath from 147 to 178. James White is up to 215 pounds after coming here at 177, and has seen his bench press rise from 175 to 250. This summer alone, Billings has gone from 175 to 192 pounds, while Isom has jumped from 176 to 197.
Earlier this week we had our guys run 10 "22's", which means they ran the length of the floor down-and-back two times. Last summer we only had one guy who made the time. This summer, we had 12 of our 13 guys pass the test. All of this is a credit to the expertise and guidance of coach Barron. We know that this is a continuous process, and our team is not a finished product, but we feel like these workouts give us the base we need going into the 2012-13 season."