Friday, August 6, 2010

Basketball Hoosiers -- Size Does Matter

Imagine a dinner with Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston. Yes, we know they are basketball players when football practice has started, but stay with us.

Jones and Elston can eat hearty. They’re trying to gain weight. Jones, in fact, has a metabolism that chews up calories faster than LeBron James sinks in Cleveland popularity polls.

Bobby Capobianco is not a salad guy. Never has been. Never will be. And yet, he and Tom Pritchard are in weight-reducing mode, which means they skip the good stuff for the good-for-you stuff.

“We go to a restaurant and I eat ribeyes and stuff like that and they eat tiny leaves and salad,” Jones said. “It’s pretty funny.”

Jones ended last season at 173 pounds. He is up to 188 and would like to get to 195 by the start of the season in November.

Elston is also bulking up under the direction of new strength coach Je’Ney Jackson. He’s up to 230 and would like to approach 240 by the time the season starts, although “If I can’t, I’ll play smart at 235, 230.”

“My biggest issues right now,” he said, “are strength and defense.”

Capobianco and Pritchard are both 240-plus guys seeking to trim down. Capobianco wouldn’t say what his desired weight is because that isn’t the point.

“The way I look at weight and strength is I need to find something I feel comfortable with,” he said. “Something I feel like I am running with, but I’m not getting thrown around. All of these guys have (weight) numbers they’re looking at and I’m just looking for a weight I feel good at.”

One thing that Capobianco feels good about is that he won’t bear as big a center burden this season. That’s because 7-1, 280-pound junior college transfer Guy-Marc Michele has arrived to take over most of that role.

“He is the center for this team that we’ve been missing,” Capobianco said. “Tom and I have tried our best for two years to try to guard some of these big guys, but it’s a very big, strong league. Guy brings us that presence in the paint. He is all of 7-1. He’s a legit 280.

“I look at myself as one of the stronger guys and I can not move that guy if I try my hardest. He’s big. We’re really looking forward to have a guy who in a half-court offense throw it in the post and know he’s going to be able to just bang, bang and get to the rim.”

In other words, Michele is not a project in the manner of seldom-used Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru.

“With Guy, we all move back to our natural positions,” Capobianco said. “It would come game time and Coach (Tom Crean) would say, ‘This is what I need your to do.’ Whether or not you had done that before or whether or not you thought that’s what you could do, that’s what you did because that’s what was asked of you.

“Now Derek and I can go back to playing the 4 (power forward). Tom and Guy can hold down the middle. We can finally push (Christian Watford) out on the wing. It pushes everybody into their own comfort zone.”

In the end, though, it’s not about comfort. It’s about winning.

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