ELDRIDGE: Wildcat Boot Camp

Most of the time when you hear of boot camp, you think of the US Marine Corps. You think of soldiers training together, helping each other, and bonding as a group. In this situation, the same can be said for Billy Gillispie's boot camp at the University of Kentucky.

"Boot camp came from Coach (Bill) Self," Gillispie said. "It's a team bonding situation," he continued. The camp was put in place in order to get the team in shape for the season both mentally and physically. It's also an exercise in teamwork. "Boot camp was very brutal," said senior guard Ramel Bradley. "Everyone needed to help everyone through it," he said.

Boot camp lasted eight days for the Wildcats. According to Gillispie, most schools just have their players run on the track with the track team and do scheduled weight lifting as their preseason conditioning. Conditioning can start as soon as school begins. The UK players have conditioning schedules that include running and weight lifting and other typical kinds of conditioning. However, the boot camp is something extra.

Bradley thought he was in good shape before. He worked hard in the off-season. "I was lifting three times a week," he said. "I was running with the track team." Bradley had transformed his body quite a bit in the previous season. He was listed at 179 pounds as a sophomore. "The year before, I gained about 20 pounds," he said. Now almost 200 pounds, Bradley is obviously no stranger to hard work. Gillispie's boot camp would test his work ethic.

"Coach G told me that I needed to be in the best condition of my life," Bradley said.

The team responded well to the camp. Gillispie said he was surprised by how well they handled the conditioning. "I thought our team did well this year. We did much better than I thought they'd do," Gillispie said.

The group showed discipline and responsibility, both traits welcomed by the Gillispie. "We got up about 5:30 and we got to work at 6," Bradley said. "Everybody was up on time. It was tough and we didn't want to make it any tougher," he continued. Bradley told of how each player had to watch out for the guy next to him. "I knew I was tired, but I had to keep pushing myself. And I knew the guy next to me was tired too, so we couldn't give up," he said. "I'd help the guy to my left and the guy to my right would help me."

The hard work of the eight-day exercise paid off for the team. "It was really tough to get through. It brought us together as a team," Bradley said. "When we got through, it felt like we won a championship."

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