As the college basketball season nears — three weeks people! — we’ve posted some offseason workout videos from programs around the country: Indiana, VCU, Rice, VCU again. The one takeaway I had from these clips into a college basketball offseason workout is that I definitely could not go through one of those sessions.
That belief was reaffirmed after reading Wisconsin beat writer Jesse Temple’s experience running hills with the Wisconsin basketball team. In a story published by FoxSports.com earlier this week, Temple documents each of the four hills he was able to complete. He also gave a brief history into Bo Ryan’s tradition of having his players run hills.
Student assistants hovered at the top of the hill next to Ryan to time each player and record the numbers. The fastest group typically takes roughly 25 seconds, while the slowest needs about 29 seconds. Team athletic trainer Henry Perez-Guerra stood in the middle of the hill, quizzing players on random bits of trivia to take their mind off the run. Assistant coaches Gary Close, Greg Gard and Lamont Paris remained at the bottom to provide further encouragement.
This fall, players will run once a week — down from the old tradition of doing hills twice every week. Wisconsin’s road back to a second straight Final Four began a week ago with 10 laps as a new school year commenced. It will increase by two until players reach 20 on the final run, just in time for the start of October practices.
The hill has a way of instructing the mind to quit. About two-thirds of the way up, it substantially steepens and helps turn legs into Jell-o. Ryan has seen many newcomers struggle on their first days. One of Wisconsin’s sophomores, I was told, made eight hills during the team’s first attempt a week ago before puking. The ritual has even prompted past players, like all-conference forward Jon Leuer, to remark that running his last hill at Wisconsin was better than Christmas.
Props to Jesse for going through it.
The workout took place on a Monday afternoon, which likely means that players went through this after a morning of classes.