As Mike Basgier blurts out commands, Ohio men’s basketball players listen intently, stone-faced with sweat dripping down their faces.
Ivo Baltic grunts as he hoists another power clean. A howl from Nick Kellogg echoes through the Carin Strength and Conditioning Center as he finishes his last repetition on the bench press.
Six months from the time they’ll take the court, the Bobcats are sculpting themselves into stronger, better-conditioned players in preparation for next season.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to cultivate is just an overall level of toughness,” said Basgier, the team’s strength coach. “It may sound ambiguous, but if they can turn that toughness on in here, they can do it when they face adversity on the court.”
The Bobcats have four main tenets for their off-season training. Basgier focuses on strength, power, endurance and body composition. With the team just beginning its regimen, the players are focusing on building strength, while body composition is a focal point of the whole program.
The emphasis on strength early in the program builds into the other facets, Basgier said. It is a key building block for the players’ speed, and it also translates into power.
“Strength itself is just the ability to move things,” Basgier said. “But when it turns into power, that’s more ‘Bam!’ It’s explosion, and that’s going to translate onto the court.”
The exercises to add body mass are simple but effective. With a focus on the bench press, squat, power clean and pull-ups, the players are building toward the later stages of power and speed.
“The mentality behind those exercises is basically, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ ” Basgier said. “It’s nothing cute, but those are the main movements we want to emphasize.”
The players do the same exercises, but each one’s goals are tweaked toward personal strengths or weaknesses.
For example, point guard D.J. Cooper has no glaring weakness and is strong despite his small frame, Basgier said. For him, the goal is to improve gradually in all areas, though his flexibility could improve.
The same could be said for fellow guard Nick Kellogg, who already possesses tremendous strength for a player at his position. Kellogg also wants to improve his squat numbers to help his endurance and shot.
“Leg strength is going to help a lot,” Kellogg said. “Everything from endurance to being explosive off the dribble. It’s important.”
When it comes to post players such as Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely, the emphasis centers on gaining mass that will translate to power on the court.
Baltic, a starter at forward last season, is looking to add about 15 to 20 pounds. He already possesses tremendous power and could beat Jerome Tillman’s record of 316 pounds on the power clean by the time he graduates, Basgier said.
“I’m just trying to gain weight, but not all at once,” Baltic said, “just a couple of pounds every month through lifting and nutrition.”
As the Bobcats work toward the summer, they will begin to focus more on speed and endurance and move away from the power.
But as it stands now, they will pound out the weights and struggle through their repetitions as they try to build the power essential to move on in the program.
“It’s a lot harder than last year,” Baltic said. “It’s definitely more intense. It’s tough, but we have to do it.”