Austin Etherington had a hard time staying off the court last season. The Indiana guard suffered a season-ending knee injury in early December and had to watch from the sideline as the Hoosiers won a BIg Ten title, earned a No. 1 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Etherington needed something to do while he recovered from the injury. He wanted to use his energy in a productive way.
So Etherington lifted. And lifted. And lifted.
"Yeah, but that was when I was just eating and lifting every day," Etherington said at Thursday's media day.
Etherington added 20 pounds of muscle to his 200-pound frame during his eight-month recovery period. He's lost about 10 pounds since returning to the court for five-on-five work, but is still significantly stronger than he was a year ago.
"It's helped me be stronger around the basket," Etherington said.
Etherington said he has the same explosiveness he did before the injury and said he feels even more comfortable jumping off his injured knee than he did at the same time last year.
"I've got the same vertical that I did before the injury," he said.
Etherington knows his ticket to the floor this year will be knocking down perimeter shots and playing strong defense. He believes he's shooting the ball better now than he did last year, even with the added weight.
"Being able to knock down shots is obviously going to be able to get me on the court," Etherington said. "With Christian [Watford] and Jordan [Hulls], we lost some great outside shooters. I know I have to be able to come in and knock down shots. I've been working on that all summer, to get my shot more consistent."
ETHERINGTON'S INJURY TIMELINE:
***Dec. 8, 2012: Etherington fractures patella against Central Connecticut State
***Six months after injury: Etherington begins running, other light drills
***Seven months after injury: Etherington begins 5-on-5 drills for the first time
***Friday: Etherington returns to practice.