Home Posts tagged "UConn Basketball"

Congratulations to UCONN and Coach Chris West!

For those of you who don't know, as part of the fifth generation of UCONN graduates in my family, I was a really proud Husky on Monday night when they won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.  While Coach Calhoun and Kemba Walker will be getting a lot of media attention (and rightfully so) over the next few days, the man for whom I was the most thrilled wasn't someone who appeared in the box scores or post-game interviews.  It was Chris West, the the Associate Head of Strength and Conditioning at UCONN, who got his first national championship ring.

From 2003 through 2005 (and even a bit in 2006) - as I was getting started in this field - I was a "sidekick" to Chris.  During that time period, I helped Chris out with basketball and soccer.  At the time, as I recall, they were all top 5 in the country: not a bad collection of athletes to be training! Chris was an incredible mentor to me and afforded me tremendous opportunities to not only work with high level athletes, but also see all the important work that goes on behind the scenes.  These experiences and conversations with Chris not only made me a better coach, but also showed me just the kind of work ethic it takes to be successful in the strength and conditioning field.  Chris' passion for helping athletes made me realize that you can (and should) have a blast when you're coaching.  Likewise, his insatiable desire to constantly be improving as a professional pushed me to be a little better each day - and a lot better over the course of a career. And, I wasn't the only one; you can find many of Chris' other "understudies" doing great things in professional sports .  One of them, Mike Irr, is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Charlotte Bobcats, and Mike and I texted back and forth Monday night not only as excited UCONN supporters, but also because we were both so excited for Chris to get the ring he deserved.  It's countless hours of hard work rewarded. As an interesting aside to this, I got down to a game at Gampel Pavilion last year and remarked to my uncle after that contest that the only way UCONN would win was if they had a dominant big man who could rebound and block shots.  It was the case with the 1999 championship team when the combination of Jake Voskuhl and Kevin Freeman gave the Huskies a strong inside presence, and also in 2004 when Emeka Okafor was National Player of the Year and UCONN won its second national title.

Last year's Huskies just had tall guys, but no dominant big men. However, Alex Oriakhi's improvement from last year to this year was remarkable and clearly played a huge role in UCONN's success this year - and a huge part of that improvement absolutely, positively came in the weight room with Chris.  You could see it in the way he used his strength to box out and set himself up in the low post (where he was dominant on Monday night) and the reactive ability he displayed with successive jumps in rebounding and blocking (4 blocked shots on Monday).  Even more interestingly, the only time that UCONN struggled in the game - the last portion of the first half - was when Oriakhi was out with foul trouble.  He was an essential part of not only the win in the finals, but the entire season.

You don't just find dominant big men; you develop them.  While Oriakhi was already a pretty big dude when he got to college, I just didn't see the body control or athleticism last year that he showed this year.  While some of that surely was a matter of instincts and on-the-court coaching, a lot of the credit goes to Coach West for a fantastic job with preparing him. Congratulations, Chris! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a deadlift technique tutorial!
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National Champs Again!

I just wanted to post a quick congratulatory blog for the UCONN women's basketball team, who won the NCAA championship on Tuesday night.  And, in the process, they closed the doors on a perfect 39-0 season.


It was pretty darn special for me to watch because I was fortunate to have worked alongside strength and conditioning coach Chris West with the seniors on this squad during their freshmen year on campus in 2005.  It's awesome to see how far girls like Renee Montgomery, Kalana Greene, Tahirah Williams, and Cassie Kearns have come. And, on a more individual note, I'm thrilled that Chris West got his first national championship.  Chris has been a great friend and mentor for me since 2003.  He does an outstanding job with four teams - men's and women's basketball and soccer - that are perenially among the best in the country.  With Chris' abilities and such a top-notch overall program, I'm sure it'll just be the first of many national championship teams  with which he'll work. Congratulations to all the players, coaches, and support staff!
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Random Friday Thoughts: 3/27/09

1. I'm feeling good.  It was our quietest week of the  year at CP, so I've actually had a few days to get myself a bit organized.  If this pace keeps up, I might even actually get my voice back by the time 2010 rolls around.  I'm sure I'll be sick of the quiet by next week, but the good news is that there is a lot of baseball to watch, and UCONN is still looking good in March Madness.


2. Another reason to smile is that we had two high school sophomores (ages 16) hit 89mph readings on the radar gun outside in cold Massachusetts this week.  The best part is that they weren't "everyone throws 90mph on the internet" readings; they were actually legitimate.  It's going to be a fun spring around it; it's always nice to see guys rewarded for their hard work in the off-season. 3. Morgan Alexander - a member of the 2006 Canadian 4-man Bobsleigh team that finished fourth in the Olympics - is in town to train with me this week.  Yesterday, he and I visited CP client Steph Holland-Brodney's third-grade class at a local elementary school.


On one hand, it fascinated me how brilliant these kids are with respect to working computers; each of them has a laptop at each desk, and they are incredibly proficient.  Then, just as I'm about convinced that the future of America is bright with these kids, autograph time comes.  Obviously, they wanted Morgan's autograph (and he signed a ton), but it never ceases to amaze me that they asked for mine, too.  I signed sneakers, balloons, and note cards - and I'm pretty sure that I devalued them completely (if that's even possible) just with my signature. 4. Anyone who thinks that throwing submarine-style is easier on the arm needs to check out this picture (thanks to Paul Connolly for sending it along).  This is some serious external rotation.


As you can tell, the real change in his throwing posture comes from the hips and trunk, not so much from the arm.  As such, he'll encounter all the same flexibility deficits that regular pitchers experience if they don't take care of their bodies.

5. The folks at Precision Nutrition published a great article about artificial sweeteners, particularly Splenda.  Check it out: Splenda: Is it Safe?

That's all for today.  Have a great weekend, folks!

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