Conditioning Could Make Big Difference for Cats
An often under discussed side effect of all the coaching upheaval and change at Arizona over the better part of the last decade was the strength and conditioning program, or rather the lack thereof. With all the instability in and around the program, players weren’t held to the same rigorous conditioning standards that most elite programs have.
And it showed.
Recent Arizona teams have faded as the season wore on, not only because of depth issues, but simply because players were not in shape. Even last year after a promising first half of the conference season, the Wildcats finished 4-6. Wearing down was clearly a problem for the Pennell, O’Neill, and even a few of the later Olson teams.
But now that Sean Miller has brought stability to Arizona, he has also brought Chris Rounds and his strength and conditioning program. Rounds worked with Miller during his time at Xavier, so the two have a close relationship and have plenty of experience working together. Rounds is also known for being a fearsome trainer with a short lease, which is exactly what the program needs going forward.
Even with Rounds whipping players into shape last year, the bad habits that players had formed over the years were glaringly obvious. Certain players were playing overweight. Others were playing underweight, and others still were not committed to the diet and lifestyle choices that go with proper conditioning. It’s a problem we’ve seen every year for quite some time now.
But going into year two, we should see a drastic improvement. This is the first season in recent memory that the players are going into November knowing what is expected of them on the court and in the weight room, so there will be no room for excuses if the Wildcats are lacking physically.
Much has been said of MoMo Jones reduced body fat and Solomon Hill’s improved physique. Derrick Williams and Jamelle Horne have gotten bigger too, as have Kevin Parrom and Kyryl Natyazhko. But the real test will be if the roster can sustain the level of energy they need over the course of the entire season, and not fade away like we’ve seen so many times before.
Arizona will likely win more games than they did last year. But if the Wildcats want to reach their goal of reaching and going deep in the post season, conditioning will be one of the major challenges to overcome.