The weight has been lifted from Sean Kline.
The 6'8" senior forward from Huntington, Ind., heads into his final season 20 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. Kline is still officially listed at the 235 pounds he played at as a junior, but there's no doubt this is a new look for the Hoosier big man.
"I'll be in better condition," said Kline, who's drawn rave reviews for his practice play from IU coach Mike Davis. "I'll be able to jump five inches instead of three."
All joking aside, the slimmed down Kline has rid himself not only of excess poundage, but also the knee brace that he wore all of last season. The brace was a necessity, the consequences for a season-ending knee injury he suffered as a sophomore.
He's also she the mental burden that goes along with that sort of injury.
"I have total freedom compared to last year," said Kline. "I felt like I needed a crutch (last year), like I needed that knee brace."
But with the exhibition opener now just one day away, the brace is gone, and Kline is down to what he refers to as his "ideal playing weight."
Truth be told, Kline has always known he'd be best suited to play at this weight. But his knee injury prompted him to bulk up in the summer of 2004 because he thought it was the one thing he could do to earn some playing time.
"Last year I knew I'd be slow, and I was hoping that with the added weight I'd be able to hold my own and be more of a physical presence," said Kline. "But that wasn't what I really needed."
An on-again, off-again starter as a sophomore, Kline's role was reduced significantly a year ago. He played in only 18 of IU's 29 games, starting three times. He averaged only 7.4 minutes per game, and actually wound up with more fouls (26) than points (23).
"Last year, I never really got to the point I was contributing," said Kline. "That was very tough on me.
"I'm trying to come back and get to the point that I was at my sophomore year and hopefully be able to contribute."
Kline certainly showed signs of that at Tuesday's 40-minute scrimmage. Playing alongside Ben Allen on the Red's frontline, Kline contributed 10 points, five rebounds and four assists while defending either Marco Killingsworth or D.J. White.
The Red unit pulled off a surprising 79-74 win over a White team that consisted of likely starters Killingsworth, White, Marshall Strickland, Lewis Monroe and Robert Vaden, showing that this year's team will have a whole lot more depth than recent IU squads.
That's certainly true on the frontline, where Kline, Killingsworth, White and Allen look like surefire contributors at the center and power forward positions.
"The competition is great," said Kline. "It's nice to have a lot of big men. Hopefully we can have one of the best frontcourts in the nation."
That's a reasonable goal, and there's no doubt Kline will be a part of that frontline rotation. He's excited to have the chance to not only be fully recovered and playing again, but also to have a chance to play on a team that has a chance to do some special things this season.
"I feel like this is going to be the year," said Kline.
Kline's Weight Is Gone, Wait Is Over
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