Monday, February 14, 2011

KU basketball’s Jeff Withey working, eating hard

Center chowing down so he can bulk back up



Kansas center Jeff Withey comes crashing through Iowa State defenders Darion Anderson, left, and Jordan Railey during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Jeff Withey has been setting his alarm at 7:30 a.m. for an important reason.

He has to wake up to eat.

“Just a new diet,” the Kansas University center said with a smile. “The eat-everything diet.”

For Withey, who tied a career-high with eight points in KU’s 89-66 victory over Iowa State on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, gaining weight has required some dedication.

Withey wakes up early only to eat. After chowing down — food like bagels and peanut butter — he goes back to bed.

When he wakes up, he eats again. After class, more food.

“Just eating non-stop,” Withey said. “It’s working right now.”

After spending the summer packing on weight, Withey lost 15 pounds earlier this season when a broken foot limited his mobility. He also dropped weight after getting sick this winter.

Slowly, he’s bulking back up. Withey said with his routine — meant to put on good weight and not just fat — he has gained between eight and nine pounds in the last six weeks.

“I’m working really hard on my strength,” Withey said. “ ... Everything’s going the right direction.”

The 7-foot sophomore, who played just 22 minutes in KU’s nine Big 12 games before Saturday, gave the Jayhawks good production against Iowa State.

In nine minutes, Withey went 3-for-3 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, adding two blocks, two rebounds and a steal.

“It’s just his time to step up and show people he can play,” KU forward Marcus Morris said. “I think that he will.”

Withey’s minutes over the next few weeks should increase while KU forward Thomas Robinson sits out because of a knee injury.

Along with Elijah Johnson and the Morris twins, Withey said that Robinson had been the most supportive during those times he wasn’t playing much.

“He’s the last person I would expect, just because he’s going through so much, but he’s the best teammate ever,” Withey said. “He just encourages me to go out and play hard.”

Withey also is listening closely to KU coach Bill Self.

“He just wants me to be more aggressive defensively, going up and blocking a lot of shots,” Withey said. “And offensively, just trying to get offensive rebounds. Just make others better by setting good screens.”

Self was pleased with his big man’s effort Saturday.

“That should give him some confidence moving forward,” Self said. “He hasn’t played much lately — it’s hard to play five big guys — but certainly he’ll play moving forward, without question. We’ll need him to play against K-State.”


phi4life940 7 years, 2 months ago

I see big things in Jeffs future. Had he stayed at Arizona he would go nowhere but he made the smart choice of coming to KU. Bill Self will make him into a star. Rock Chalk

KingManMan 7 years, 2 months ago

Jeff was the #36 recruit in the nation in 2008 and hasn't YET blossomed at KU. The next year Arizona signed a non-150 recruit (Rivals), Derrick Williams, who is currently the top rated center in the country (Rivals position ratings). So, while not a fan of Arizona, your comment about Jeff staying at Arizona and going nowhere is puzzling. Coach Sean Miller does have a track record of player development (i.e., who will ever know how Jeff's career would have played out at UA?).

Andrew Moore 7 years, 2 months ago

Derrick Williams is a freak. He is just one of those guys that nobody saw coming. Withey on the other hand, is a guy that everyone saw potential, which may have inflated his rankings a little too much. Not to mention Withey's injury problems.

I can't say for sure if Williams success is a result of coaching or just the fact that he is an athletic beast with tons and tons of natural talent

mi_familia 7 years, 2 months ago

FYI... Derrick Williams is the top rated Power Foward according to rivals, not the top Center.

Also, I agree that Sean Miller can develop players. I would like to point out that it does take 7 foot Centers more time to adjust and develop at the college level than it typically does for 6'8" players.

Withey has been troubled with a number of injuries and also has had the pressure of adding weight. I'm not sure if adding weight is what Jeff needs. I know it'll help prevent him from getting pushed around, but if you look at his playing style in high school, he was good because he was very mobile for a 7 footer.

Either way, if Jeff stays healthy, the KU coaching and training staff will get Jeff contributing to the KU team and into the league.

Sf Boggsz 7 years, 2 months ago

Williams is actually a PF playing a frontline position. As you are well aware, it takes a lot longer to develop a "big man", not only in college but the pro's as well. Arizona may be know as point guard U., but at KU we develop big men. Take a look at NBA rosters for the past 70 years, starting with Clyde and Wilt...

I'll take my answer off the air.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 2 months ago

Jeff has also been healthy, wait, has Jeff been healthy since he's been at KU? No one is going to develop in any program from the trainer's table/sick bed. Hopefully, he can stay healthy long enough for Danny to work his big man magic. There are other good coaches, but none better than Manning & Self.

kerbyd 7 years, 2 months ago

It's cool that T-Rob is so supportive of Jeff with all that he has been thru this year!

HOPESHAWKS 7 years, 2 months ago

Jeff could have gone to a lot of different places and contributed instantly. With his size, a lot of schools would have loved to get him. Jeff, you made the right choice. Just stay focused and good things will come.

rwhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Not a flattering picture (here's Withey's getting hacked at ISU). Its as bad as the overly cropped picture of Selby's face.

Whoever does the "glamour" photos of all the players at the beginning of the year needs to start taking a shot of the new skinny forwards/centers eating food. We can all predict that this diet is coming for them. How great would it be having Withey standing in AFH all alone trying to look both suave and tough, while eating a bagel and drinking a protein shake! Then at the beginning of the next year when the article comes out that says they gained 15-20 pounds, they could do a before and after picture.

KU_FanSince75 7 years, 2 months ago

Man, I wish I could eat a lot of food and not gain weight. Good luck, Jeff. Stay focused, man. We need you all the way to get to the Road to the Final 4.

yates33333 7 years, 2 months ago

Withey. Do like the Morris' twins, push the other guy out of the way. You get caught once or twice but not very often. Use those long arms.

JayDocMD 7 years, 2 months ago

Trying to figure out how inactivity from breaking your foot makes you lose weight? Can you not still eat and hit the weights?

slowplay 7 years, 2 months ago

It's not about just gaining weight. Without excersize (i.e. broken foot), it's just fat which would cause more problems in the long run. I am impressed with how much upper body mass he has gained since coming to KU.

JayDocMD 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm aware of the desire to add muscle weight - there are plenty of non-weightbearing activities to be done with a broken foot and maintain weight and build new muscle. If it sounds like I'm questioning his motivation/desire, I am. Hope he proves me wrong.

KEITHMILES05 7 years, 2 months ago

Shouldn't the title be "working hard, eating" and not "working, eat hard" ? LOL How do you eat hard?

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 2 months ago

this is a little literary trick called parallelism.

the title says "working, eating hard" but what is inferred is "working hard, eating hard"

I think that "eating hard" simply means that he is being very disciplined and focused in his eating habits and exhibiting significant effort to consume large quantities of nutritious foods.

Tony Bandle 7 years, 2 months ago

"Eating Hard" - jaw breaker candy, coconuts with the husk still on, chicken wings with the bone, ten day old french bread, corn cobs, etc.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 2 months ago

Love the Laimbeer and Cole comments. Not sure about the rest - well, except for taking about 20% of Philly out of the Twins. That would probably do all of them a world of good, and save a T or 2.

I would also offer that the coaches should borrow some of those big arm pads from Gill that the coaches use to bash the players on the practice field. Dedicate a portion of individual workouts with Jeff for nothing more than feeding him in the post and taking shots while being beaten with the pads.

lee3022 7 years, 2 months ago

Danny probably doesn't need the arm pads! Actually your suggestions I have assumed are already being done. There is no substitution for game experience and It seemed against Iowa State that his confidence took a leap and he turned in a strong 5 minutes. Tonight he gets a chance to build on that against k-state.

Ken Sedgwick 7 years, 2 months ago

" Well need him to play against K-State." I didnt see that coming. I hope he does well. So far the comments here have been positive. Can we keep them that way?

Ann Oneill 7 years, 2 months ago

If Withey can come in for a couple of minutes to give the Morrii a breather he will have done his job. - Foul a few times, maybe block a shot or two. No more mental errors or bad inbounds passes, please.

SaulGood 7 years, 2 months ago

We're pretty spoiled to have a 7-footer lumbering off the bench. Great hoop awareness during the ISU game and a lot of well-made post plays. I agree with Self that he needs to translate that confidence into some humble, useful minutes tonight - I also hope that he keeps his head screwed on straight and makes some smart passes. I never quit being a fan of Withey and his potential. I'll be happy if his potential turns into his talent.

jaybate 7 years, 2 months ago

Who will throw the most cheap shots tonight?

The Twins and TRob have been practicing most of the season and have finally started to get better at it.

But Withey?

He's got to add the weapon to his arsenal. I haven't seen him do one cheap shot yet. And no big man should go into the Madness without opponents aware that he has a good cheap shot repertoire.

I would like to see him use the forearm smash to the face that Marcus and Kieff and TRob have been using, even though it might get him a poke in the face.

Every big has to have a forearm smash in his quiver of unadmitted tactics in the year of XTReme Cheap Shotting.

Its a must.

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