It didn't take long after Sean Miller and Associate Director of Performance Enhancement Chris Rounds arrived in Tucson before they requested a new weight training facility for the men's basketball team.
That weight room has finally arrived, and the UA players have now had a few weeks in their new facility, which was paid for in part by a $2.65 million donation from Cole and Jeannie Davis to go along with a $250,000 gift from Miller.
It may be too early to see much results but Rounds is happy with his first few weeks in the new facility.
"It's been a good change," Rounds said. "The guys are lifting, it's just the men's basketball team and the equipment is definitely suited to them. When you make a point to correct what someone's doing, the entire team can hear you, so you don't need to repeat yourself. It makes it much, much easier for me to do my job."
The distractions that were a concern for Rounds when the entire team lifted with the rest of Arizona's student-athletes are no longer there, and the gym is just big enough to fit all of the equipment needed, but small enough where Rounds can monitor everyone.
The result has been a more focused group of players, which Rounds is happy about.
"The players really like it," he said. "They realize that lifting is important at this point. They also realize this facility was put together by the donation from Cole and Jeannie for them, so they've really embraced the facility, and the equipment makes their bodies and joints feel a lot better. They've been lifting hard."
Last year at this time, Rounds said that the players weren't physically strong enough to do what the coaches needed them to do on the court. 12 months later, the players' physical strength is closer to where it needs to be, but in general, he wouldn't expect anyone to have completely taken to the weight lifting system yet.
"Everyone is doing exactly what they're supposed to and they're where we expected them to be when we started the year," Rounds said. "These guys have been lifting with me at most for about 20 months or so.
"There aren't any real juniors and seniors who have been in this (weight lifting) program the whole time. Usually it takes to year two or year three. Next year we'll be about where we want with the kids who have been here for a number of years."
Even after a player has been in Rounds' system for over a couple years, he doesn't expect anyone to get to the point where he's fully happy with them.
"I don't think you're ever extremely comfortable or happy with a player," Rounds said. "You're always trying to improve something. Derrick Williams, for example, is a big strong kid, but he still has a lot to improve, both in his body and his game. You're never completely happy."
In the future, Rounds said a key will not only be to continue to put weight on the players in the system, but for the coaches to bring kids in the program with higher physical upsides.
"We're a lot further ahead than we were last year obviously but we still have a long ways to go," he said. "Not only with strength and conditioning but just getting bigger people. You saw against the Los Angeles schools, the height and size of those guys really impacts the game."
After the season, we'll go player by player with Rounds to get his thoughts on the entire UA roster. For now, he identified some of the players he thinks have the most to gain this summer.
"We need Kevin Parrom and Jesse Perry to put on some mass," Rounds said. "I would say those two guys have the most to gain by having a good off-season. After them, you would say all the incoming freshmen, but particularly big men usually have some work to do.
"Sidiki Johnson is a big kid but he's been injured a little bit so I don't know where his body fat is at this point but knowing his genetics, I'd say he'll probably have to lose some weight and put on some muscle. He'll have some work to do."
Chris Rounds happy with new weight room
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