Oliver's weekly activity leading up to the first day of practice includes track work and individual workouts in the practice facility. "We usually do the individual workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays and track work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays," said Oliver. "They've been going real well, I've been shooting the ball well, and my teammates have been going hard."
The workouts are preparing the team for the physical rigors of the season but they also know that they have to be mentally prepared. "Mental toughness wise we try to stay loose because if you get too caught up in everything, it tends to throw you off a little bit so if you're relaxed going into it you play your game.
Oliver began learning about the mental side of the game in high school from his dad. "I take things seriously but I'm a free flowing guy so I just go out and do my thing."
One his freshman year behind him, Brian is ready to make a big jump as he prepares fore his second season at Tech. "I think everybody that was a freshman last year has matured a lot and we're a lot more focused and we've learned from the freshman mistakes that we made." Oliver and his classmates know they can't afford to make those mistakes this year. "I've matured a lot and we've all gotten a lot more serious about everything."
Part of the maturity for Oliver is that this isn't high school anymore. We're playing for keeps and this is our life now and we're getting a free education to play basketball."
Although he doesn't know the exact offense and defense that the team will be running, Brian has heard the same as everyone else that the team will be running more and pressing more. This fits in with his style of play. "I like to run the floor and get transition threes so that would definitely work well for me." Oliver also likes to set screens. Putting him at the four would give Brian a chance to do that. "I think that would work real well for my game."
This season will also give Brian a chance to rebound more. "I could have gotten more last year but I didn't need to and if I did jump up to try and get one, Derrick (Favors) or Gani (Lawal) would have taken it away from me." Oliver is looking forward to getting down low and banging some bodies and getting some rebounds.
This year's team will feature a lot more guard play. "It will be a lot more exciting and since we have all the guards out there we can push it and we won't have to worry about the big men getting down court." Oliver feels that the one big man will also be good in transition.
Brian likes what he's seen from the big men. "Kammeon (Holsey) looks really good, Danny (Miller) is doing a good job of setting screens, and Nate (Hicks) is still adjusting but is playing well." Coming off the knee injury, Holsey has been a big surprise to Oliver. "He's definitely a hard worker."
In Brian's eyes, another positive for this year's team is the addition of Robert McCullum to the coaching staff. "He's been working real well with the bigs in the individuals making sure their fundamentals are sound, said Oliver. "He's a real energetic guy."
The strong finish by last year's team has made last year's team has made the freshmen want more of the same. "I think we're hungrier now because once you go to the tourney, it wouldn't be right if you didn't go every year." Brian and his teammates don't want to settle for anything less. "We went to the second round and this year we want to go further than that."
Brian is looking forward to the start of practice on the 15th. "I'm anxious because I know a lot of people don't expect us to do well because we lost Gani and Derrick." That will be part of the hunger for this year's team. "We want to prove that there was more to the team than those two guys."