On The Mark: The Importance of Summer for Kentucky Basketball

08/25/2013 11:23 PM

Other than a four-week hiatus during the month of May – between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of summer classes – and about a two-week break in early August before the new school year commences, Kentucky Basketball is fully engaged. That’s right. The total downtime for the young student-athletes is only a little more than a month out of the entire year. Seems excessive, doesn’t it?

So what could Julius Randle and the Harrison Twins have possibly accomplished in the past few months? Why not just take the entire summer off to rest up? Well, the answer is simple – summer workouts are crucial to the success of the following season… especially when one team has six McDonald’s All-Americans stepping foot on campus simultaneously. Summer is a time to work out the kinks as a team, but more than anything, as individuals.

“The season is about we, the summer is about me” is a good motto here. Of course it’s important during the summer to build team unity and learn how to play on the court with one another – and that’s exactly what happens – but in my opinion, the success of summer rests solely on how much better each individual player gets. With a daily schedule of morning conditioning and weights, then class, then pick-up games, then tutoring sessions, and then hopefully individual work at night before bed – it’s certainly tougher than a summer day at the pool. But summer can be where players separate themselves on the roster and in the national spotlight when the ball finally tips.

Now, results vary, some may get stronger mentally during June and July and some may develop more physically, but the key is progress. Coach Cal brings in new talent every year expected to contribute right away. That’s a tall order for any young guy who was playing “boys basketball” only a few months earlier. The summer allows them to get acquainted with the campus and one another; it allows them to put muscle on and become better conditioned than they had to be in high school. Think about the 2012 National Championship season. Those young guys – Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Lamb, Jones, Teague, etc. – were around NBA athletes that entire summer due to the looming NBA lockout. It’s clear why they came out early in the season looking like an NBA team – full of confidence, swagger, and a healthy supply of three-goggles.

If these new Cats learn anything from the drastic highs and lows of the two previous seasons, I hope they learn to love the process. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Summer workouts, individual workouts, weight training, and conditioning are what win Championships. From what I hear, this year’s team utilized the crucial summer months. Let’s hope they do the same with the rest of the process leading up to the season. If they do, #9 will be hung.


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