Universally reviled Boot Camp awaits KU hoops

Saturday, September 22, 2012

For former Kansas University basketball player Tyshawn Taylor, the best day of Boot Camp was his last day of Boot Camp, 2011.

“I walked in the locker room, and these guys are passed out, dead tired, 7 o’clock in the morning. They’re laying around, and I’m up, shirt off, running around the room (saying), ‘I don’t have to do this (bleep) any more.’ I was so happy, so happy,” Brooklyn Nets rookie guard Taylor said of the conclusion of the 10th and final Boot Camp conditioning workout his senior year.

Taylor is long gone, having graduated last May, but for the 2012-13 Jayhawks, KU coach Bill Self’s 10th-annual preseason Boot Camp will begin at 6 a.m. Monday in the squad’s hoops practice facility adjacent to Allen Fieldhouse.

The 60-to-90-minute up-before-the-crack-of-dawn sprints, defensive slides and backboard touches will continue daily until Friday, then after a two-day break, will resume until Friday, Oct. 5.

“It’s literally two weeks of hell,” said Taylor, who survived four Boot Camps. “It’s not so much the workout stuff ... it’s the getting up every day at 6 in the morning. It’s added to the already-hectic schedule that we have. Nobody wants to do that for 10 days. It just sucks. It wears on your body, because you still have regular weights. You still have to do individuals (drills). You’ve still got to play pick-up. You’ve still got to go to tutoring, then do it all over again for 10 days in a row. It sucks.”

If a Jayhawk player is lucky, he’s able to sneak in a nap at some point in the early-afternoon hours. If not, he’s off to bed after early-evening tutoring in an attempt to get a good night’s sleep before resuming the drills.

“I’m looking forward to it being over with already, and we haven’t even started,” said KU senior forward Travis Releford, about to embark on his fifth Boot Camp thanks to a red-shirt season. “I’m just going into it telling our young guys how much they have to be motivated and have energy for it. That’ll make things a lot easier, I’ve known from my past experience.”

Releford said he doesn’t really have any secret tips to pass onto KU’s nine newcomers besides stressing they better arrive on time. Self has no patience for those who happen to be tardy.

“I try to get up a little early so I can grab something to eat like an energy bar,” Releford said. “I try to drink a Gatorade, nothing heavy, because it’s a lot of running.”

KU freshman guard/forward Andrew White III said he’ll be setting two alarms for himself and roomie Zach Peters in their Jayhawker Towers apartment.

“I always set two just to go to class and practice,” White said with a smile. “I definitely won’t be waking up late. I’ll go in there (Peters’ room) and make sure he’s up. We’ll figure it out.”

White said there hasn’t been a lot of discussion about Boot Camp since the start of the semester.

“Everybody has had it in the back of their mind just because you know this is when it’s time to really get going, and the season is right around the corner,” White said of the Oct. 12 Late Night in the Phog. “I know everybody has mixed emotions about it, but we’re ready for the season to get going, so I think everybody is looking forward to it in a way.

“I don’t dread it,” he added. “I think even when it’s over I’m not going to dread it because I know the feeling will be like, ‘You just accomplished the biggest goal possible up to that point.’ If that’s what we have to do, and that’s how coach gets the best response out of his players, I won’t dread it at all.”

Self said his players can draw from Boot Camp experiences, “all year long. It provides leadership, unity and toughness.”

The players certainly will feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s over, especially the seniors.

“I feel I’m going to be like Ty. After my last suicide (sprint), I’m probably going to be happy. I’m probably going to run it the fastest I’ve ever run it since I’ve been here since I know it’s my last one,” Releford said.

After all ... “There’s nothing better than being a senior and finishing Boot Camp. That’s what I hear,” senior center Jeff Withey said.