Sunday, October 10, 2010

IU Basketball Strength Coach Making His Mark

So here is Je’Ney Jackson, the man in charge of Indiana’s basketball strength and conditioning program. It’s quite a job given the strength deficiencies that have plagued the program in recent years because of the team’s youth.

Jackson’s goal is simple -- turn IU from one of the Big Ten’s weakest teams into one of the strongest. He previously was a strength coach at Wyoming and Kansas. He also coached cornerbacks at Kansas and Southern Mississippi.

Jackson arrived in July and didn’t waste any time setting a tone.

“We hit the ground running, which was good,” he said. “From Day One, boom, we we’re rolling. Right off the bat it was like, This is what we’re doing. This is the direction we’re going. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

NCAA rules prohibit coaches from monitoring players in the off-season, but not strength coaches. That means guys like Jackson can have a major impact on players.

“As far as my philosophy, my whole thing is to enhance their performance, period. Especially with basketball, I’m not trying to make you into a weight lifter. We use weight lifting as a means to help you perform better.

“Are we going to focus on technique? Of course we are. Am I going to get guys who are 7-feet tall to put 500 pounds on their backs to squat? Definitely not. You enhance performance through a lot of multi-joint movements.”

IU’s youth means there’s still a lot of work to do to match the strength of players from Michigan State and Purdue.

“We’re a very young team,” Jackson said, “so you have to attack it in different ways. Our training age is young, so the program has to fit that.”

Jeff Watkinson, the previous strength coach, left last summer to become the personal trainer for former Hoosier standout and current NBA star Eric Gordon. Jackson said he kept some of Watkinson’s ideas, but also made a lot of changes.

“I’m pretty much my own guy and I want to do my own thing.”

Cook Hall, with its state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, made the transition easy.

“When you have all the tools to help kids be successful, that’s a huge benefit,” Jackson said. “You don’t have to figure out different ways to get things done. We have the things these guys need. Cook Hall was a huge factor in my coming here.”

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