After more than three months apart, things are finally starting back up.
Thursday marks the beginning of the first Indiana basketball organized team activities since March, and in many ways it will be like starting over.
IU men’s basketball players will voluntarily participate, or be volun-told if you prefer, in workouts this week as the first step towards a return to normalcy.
After so much time away, and with players in very different circumstances at home, IU head coach Archie Miller referred to the activities commencing this week as akin to a physical restart.
From a training and development standpoint, what has been lost has been critical.
“That’s the most important physical development time of the year,” Miller said of the last few months on a recent podcast with IU radio voice Don Fisher.
And what has been lost is visible — and measurable.
“Certain guys have lost 12 to 14 pounds since they’ve been away,” Miller added.
With gyms and training centers closed, and even outdoor rims removed in most locations, players were left with what they had at home.
And in many cases that wasn’t much.
“You better hope you had a barbell or dumbbell in the garage, or you were going to be doing push-ups or sit-ups, or you were going to be running like Rocky,” Miller quipped.
While Rocky was able to train for and win fictional prize fights with an impressive array of improvised workout regimes, no one is expecting Indiana’s players to begin this week ready to take on Ivan Drago.
Instead, led by training and development coach Clif Marshall, IU will start at a rudimentary level.
With concern around the country that athletes will now have a higher risk of suffering an injury, IU doesn’t intend to rush anyone back.
“Very base level weights and conditioning to get started, and then a gradual progression to get their conditioning level, and physical base that we workout with,” Miller said of what things will look like in the early weeks back campus. “There’s going to take some time to get there.
“A big focus on their return is going to be their conditioning level and their strength that we can get our guys back into before the fall term.”
While the gradual return makes sense, no one will be arriving this week straight from spending three months on the couch.
Most players have found ways to stay in shape and continue skill development, and things have gradually opened back up over the last few weeks. Players have been working with their trainers, and there have been organized private basketball runs going on for a while now.
It is clear when you watch video of incoming freshmen Anthony Leal and Jordan Geronimo that no one is likely to arrive completely out of shape.
But at the same time, it has been very difficult to replicate the resources that the players have access to in a high major college basketball program.
From food, to training, to high level basketball competition on a daily basis, the resources in Bloomington are hard to match.
“A lot of it will be getting them back here (in Bloomington), you just take for granted at a place like Indiana, you have the Excellence Academy and Cook Hall, the amount of food and training supplements,” Miller said. “It’s just amazing what guys have access to, and when they don’t, how things can change.”
Things have changed, but now the pendulum will begin to slowly swing back.
Put Ivan Drago on notice.
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