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Saturday, March 15, 2014

One and the same: Strength coach Hudy consistent in her approach

Kansas University men's basketball strength coach Andrea Hudy stretches out Andrew Wiggins, who is most likely to declare his intention to enter the NBA Draft after his freshman season.

Kansas University men's basketball strength coach Andrea Hudy stretches out Andrew Wiggins, who is most likely to declare his intention to enter the NBA Draft after his freshman season.

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Kansas University men's basketball strength coach Andrea Hudy stretches out Andrew Wiggins, who is most likely to declare his intention to enter the NBA Draft after his freshman season.

To the naked eye, Kansas University freshmen Conner Frankamp and Andrew Wiggins are about as different as can be.

But through the finely trained eyes of those in charge of bulking up and working out the KU basketball roster, the two are exactly alike.

Although Wiggins has eight inches, 35 pounds and a fast-arriving NBA future on Frankamp, the two have been trained the same during their time as Jayhawks.

It’s strength coach Andrea Hudy’s job to ensure that, and she follows Kansas coach Bill Self’s lead to make it happen.

“The thing is, everybody plays defense in basketball,” Hudy said during a recent sit-down interview with the Journal-World designed to investigate any differences between training one-and-done athletes like Wiggins and everybody else. “That’s the staple I have as my foundation in training a basketball player. Everybody plays defense, and coach loves defense.”

There are, of course, subtle differences from player to player that make Hudy’s training unique for each Jayhawk. For example, she would not ask Frankamp to lift the same amount of weight as senior forward Tarik Black. And the expectations for Black’s flexibility and foot speed differ from Frankamp’s. But in terms of the overall process — Monday through Sunday, 46 to 48 weeks a year — the training regimen is the same for every player in the KU program.

“We know what we’re trying to train,” Hudy said, “and that’s a reactive basketball player.”

The five seasons

Hudy’s training is broken up into five “seasons” each year. Her recently completed book, “From the Ground Up,” covers this topic, and she is awaiting details on a release date from her literary agent, Waxman Leavell in New York.

The postseason, the point the Jayhawks are in today, focuses on bringing each athlete closer to the athletic state he had at the beginning of the season in order to maximize efficiency and, perhaps more importantly, decrease the odds of injury. During this time, the intense, hard-core training methods are cut back or eliminated altogether in favor of a more yoga-like resistance approach.

When the postseason ends, in mid-March or early-April, Hudy’s training moves through the offseason (April and May), the summer (June through August), the preseason (September and October) and, finally, back into the season (November through February).

“Each one of those has a different focus,” she said. “It’s creating an outlier and then recreating a healthy athlete. It’s a cycle. And that’s what makes my job fun. ... It’s figuring out what’s the best exercise prescription for keeping the guys healthy and then making them the best basketball athletes they can be.”

It’s also what makes her job one of the most consistent aspects of Kansas basketball. While Bill Self has to deal with poor shooting nights, foul trouble, adjustments by opponents or unpredictable calls made by officials, Hudy’s time with the Jayhawks is finely detailed and starts at the same point every year.

“The best time to train a male athlete is at 18,” she said. “That’s why I can get such great results because they come in at 18 every year. So I have consistencies in my life that they’re 18 and that our foundation is defense. ... I get older, they stay the same age.”

While that general approach allows Hudy to train and treat one-and-done athletes like the others even though she has them for just a quarter of the time, it’s what happens after that first year that the guys who leave early miss out on the most.

“Once we’ve taught the technique and skill development in the weight room, now they can start loading,” said Hudy of the returning players’ ability to lift more weight. “And then we’re talking huge increases in force production. My biggest gains and biggest increases in athleticism are what you see between their freshman and sophomore year.”

Maximizing potential

Although Hudy was quick to point out that it’s not her job to decide an athlete’s future, she said she wished every Jayhawk she ever worked with would stay in school for four years.

That’s not her being selfish. That’s her wishing to maximize the potential of each athlete, some of whom make incredible progress under her care and risk going down the wrong path once they leave Lawrence.

To illustrate the point, Hudy told the tale of one former Jayhawk, whom she did not name, who left KU early, got into the wrong training practices at the request of an agent and quickly went from prospect with sure NBA potential to out of the league in a frighteningly short time.

“We’re in exercise prescription,” she said. “And it’s an unregulated field. You can make or break a millionaire or somebody’s life.”

The goal is not to take these already gifted athletes and turn them into something they’re not. The goal is to enhance the traits they already have and to get them to fit the fundamental philosophies that define the KU program. It’s the same with one-and-dones as it is for the guys who stay four or five years.

“She brought so much more out of me than I ever knew was in me,” Wiggins said. “She’s always trying to push you to reach your limit. And she’s good. She’s been doing it for years, so she knows when you’re slacking off, if you’re not going hard.”

Asked if he thought Hudy’s training techniques with him differed from the rest of the roster, Wiggins did not hesitate to answer.

“She treats us all the same,” he said. “The body’s the same. Some people are just stronger than others.”

Although a back injury has muddied the water for freshman center Joel Embiid’s future, he may very well be in line to follow Wiggins out the door after just one season with Hudy. Asked recently if he ever had worked with anyone like her, the 7-foot center from Cameroon who still is in the early stages of his basketball career flashed a look that hinted that the question might as well have been rhetorical.

“Um, no,” he said. “I didn’t have anything like that (before Kansas). She knows what she’s doing, and she knows what I need to work on. She’s really helping me. I’ve gotten so much stronger since I’ve been here.”

The next chapter

Since November, 10 professional sports teams have come to Lawrence to watch Hudy work. And several other universities regularly inquire about KU’s practices as well.

Despite KU’s status as an industry leader in the sports-performance field, Hudy never loses sight of the program’s goal no matter if she’s working with an athlete for just eight months or close to half a decade. Her job is to keep the Jayhawks healthy and increase their on-court efficiency by maximizing the results they get while doing the same amount of work.

The gains may be greater for the guys who stick around, but the process is always the same.

When the Jayhawks’ postseason run is over, Wiggins will begin the next chapter in his life. It will involve working out for NBA teams, getting ready for this summer’s draft and trying to ride the momentum of all the physical strides he made under Hudy at KU.

When told the tale about the former Jayhawk in a similar position who took the wrong steps and flamed out after leaving Hudy before his NBA career ever really got started, Wiggins simply shrugged.

“I’ve (trained) with other people,” he said. “And I think I know what’s wrong, what’s right. I have a good circle behind me.”

Because of that, Wiggins said he had no plans to beg Hudy to follow him to whatever NBA city awaits.

“No,” he said. “It would be nice, though.”

Comments

Rodney Crain 6 months ago

Best in the business hands down. No discussion.

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Steve Zimmerman 6 months ago

"To illustrate the point, Hudy told the tale of one former Jayhawk, whom she did not name, who left KU early, got into the wrong training practices at the request of an agent and quickly went from prospect with sure NBA potential to out of the league in a frighteningly short time."

-- Juju? Selby?

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Aaron Paisley 6 months ago

Sherron didn't leave early.

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Dirk Medema 6 months ago

Juju hung around the league for a while, though never reaching a significant level of achievement.

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Dale Rogers 6 months ago

Julian was in the league for several years. His problem was he didn't listen to coaches, thought he knew better than they did. The quote from this article sounds like Selby to me.

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Greg Lux 6 months ago

Sherron was at KU 4 years... Selby is the only candidate who would qualify .. A truely sad story of a young man who could have achieved so much by the"Money Apple" he bit on got him kicked out of the garden of NBA....

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Aaron Paisley 6 months ago

It could be JuJu she's referring to, but Selby's name was the one that popped in my head immediately while reading that. JuJu lasted 4 years in the NBA and Selby didn't even make it 2 seasons.

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Erich Hartmann 6 months ago

Out of the NBA in a frighteningly quick amount of time --> That would have to be Julian Wright. Went from being a lotto pick, to out of the NBA after 3-4 yrs.

Look, Josh Selby wasnt a guarantee, only because of how snakebit his KU year was...but he healed up his foot 1 mos after VCU loss, and led the D-league with a 25ppg avg (was MVP)...but Selby was still no guarantee. He was NOT a high-profile, lotto pick, like Julian Wright was. Julian Wright was LESS ready than Selby or Xavier. Julian did not have the body readiness for the NBA.

As far as I'm concerned, Julian, Xavier, Selby all made a wrong decision (hindsight, of course...), and we see that Juju is done; Xavier may stick in LA for awhile (lets hope), and it remains to be seen if Selby can work his way back from China...where he toils hard in anonymity. Selby could have played a healthy year2 under the big-time spotlight of a royalty school (KU), and used the free publicity/TV exposure to make himself a 1st round pick. Nobody ever told him about the concept of "investment" (use the free publicity, just will cost you "time") that would have yielded literally millions of dollars for himself? Hmm, 12mos more = million$.

I say this, because like Self did, I saw a certain Sherron-like swagger in Selby, but in a 6'2 package...if he stayed, he would have been better than EJ, who had hops, but did NOT possess that attack-dog persona--which is why EJ went undrafted. There's always been those elite athletes that didnt make the NBA because they didnt have the will/determination/aggressiveness. Or, in the case of Selby, they thought they knew better. That only works if you prove people wrong and actually succeed (maybe like Lance Stephenson seems to have done). Why not choose a bit easier path?

Another hypothetical: Look at Perry Ellis. If he was averaging 16-18ppg, and was doing things like Wiggins, we might be talking about him possibly leaving and being a 2AD...but we're not. Not aggressive mentally. Very puzzling, since he's a smart kid. But he's never been asked to defend anybody like Self asks him to defend. He still a Roy-like McDAA bigman (can score), but needs to take the next step mentally to become a Bill Self big. Watch Traylor's mentality...or Jojo's...

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Aaron Paisley 6 months ago

Julian is playing overseas, Selby is completely out of basketball at the moment. While JuJu may not have reached his potential, he's still at least playing professionally unlike Selby who is now out of basketball at 21 years of age.

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Steve Zimmerman 6 months ago

i like how Traylor transformed his physical, not sure mentaility, but he's got NBA potential, body-wise. That's Hudification. Didn't Selby get hurt in the season he got here, though? Juju was one heck of an explosive player, he could've prospered in NBA and still playing (better $$$ than Hansborough) had he stuck around just a bit longer here.

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Allen Shepard 6 months ago

Selby led scoring and was MVP of the -Summer League- MUCH different than D-League

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DaNeille Davis 6 months ago

Rock Chalk Hudy! She's the best in the business and we need to do everything possible to keep her at KU for her entire career.

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Jeff Kilgore 6 months ago

Agreed! Hudy has certainly made her mark. I was, however, disappointed to read that the optimum time to train the body is 18, since I'm three times this age! I will definitely be buying the book, even though I'll probably be lucky to do 1/3 of it!

Andrea, being visited by 10 different professional teams, is a tribute to her ability, her knowledge, and her motivation.

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Josh Youle 6 months ago

Anybody else notice the quote from Dazed and Confused? Just awesome

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Chuck Stones 6 months ago

I've always wondered if those that leave early can come back and train with Hudy? I know that it couldn't be the everyday training, but could she set up a program and then they come back for monitoring.

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Tony Bandle 6 months ago

Andrea's hair style is "I don't care about a hair style." Of course, I wouldn't say that to her face because she would beat the crap out of me. :)

All indications point toward Jo Jo coming back for the Sweet Sixteen..IF we get there, and from what I saw this week, that's a HUGE IF!!!!!

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