What excites you about this year's men's basketball team?
"I am excited about the atmosphere everyday. The energy that they bring is on a different level than it has been. They guys are coming in and working hard every single day. They are taking it to a completely different level than what it has been in the past here for me. We have been really consistent in our work ethic and everybody has really been getting after it and pushing each other. That has been very enjoyable to me."
Why do you believe the attitude has been different this summer?
"The kids who we have brought in along with the ones that returned know what the standard is. They know what it is going to take. They saw what happened last year when you buy in and are doing the correct things. I think that has helped. And they really want to win. They are really pushes each other. They aren't letting each other fail. If a guy is failing they are going over there to help him through it. Because of that, they are going to do everything that they can to put themselves in that position to be successful."
It sounds like there is some leadership among the young guys.
"There is. And that is really nice. It is nice to see guys stepping up and helping each other out. It has been really exciting and really refreshing."
Of the new guys, you have a guy like Schnider Herard who already looks like a man. What has he been like?
"He has been great. He is an extremely big man. But we have to lean him up. And he has done a great job of buying into that. He is already down 32 pounds since he came in here. We've done that through the right meal timing, the right amount of calories at the right time. He's also come in and done extra time with me in addition to the other work that we are doing on a daily basis.
"In order for him to move the way he needs to move this is what he had to do. He was able to get by and do those things (in high school). But at this level he has to have his body lean enough to be agile enough to run with some of the guys who are fours who play more of a wing style of play. He has to be able to move well enough to keep up with them. He is going to be switching off sometimes and he is going to have to be able to move and be able to guard different positions."
What did he weigh and what does he weigh now?
"He was 292. Now he is 260."
How much more do you feel he should lose?
"Probably about 10 more pounds by the time the season gets here. He will be the 250 to 255 pound range."
When you are watching him when the coaches are working with him are you seeing an improvement in his agility and movement?
"Oh yeah. He is jumping higher. He is moving better. You can definitely see it. He is starting to run the floor better. You see those things. And he sees those things. And that is an extra motivation for him. When he sees the improvements that he has made and he sees all of my numbers are going up and his weight is going down, then that is even more motivation for him to get in here and do even more."
What have some of the other new guys done weight-wise?
"We have some others. E.J. Datcher is down from 262 when he came in to 249 now. Mario Kegler is another guy who is really starting to lean up. He is down about 11 pounds. Then on the other end you have guys like Lamar Peters and Eli Wright. They are up 16 and 13 pounds. Aric Holman is up from last year. Q is up. Tyson is gaining weight. This is an everyday thing that we are really monitoring."
Are you adding or subtracting weight with Quinndary Weatherspoon?
"We are adding weight and getting him stronger. He is jumping higher. We use some different max touch and different vertical jump test to see if the things that we are doing are helping them on the court.
"One other thing you see from all of that is confidence. That is what this room builds, a lot of confidence. And when you have confidence that is going to make you a better player."
What are you doing with I.J. Ready?
"He is getting stronger and jumping higher. We are trying to add some weight. He needs to be about 5 pounds heavier by the start of the season."
Another returner is Joseph Strugg. He was pretty lean last year. Has he added some weight?
"Yes, he has put on some weight. And we are continuing to put on weight. He has put on an additional 8 to 10 pounds. And his strength level has gone up a lot for him."
Xavian Stapleton is limited due to his rehab. What can he do in the performance center?
"He is limited more on the court. He is starting to get to the point where he can almost do every movement in here. There are still some movements that we are not doing. We are not doing a bunch of jump training with him. That will come in the next phase. Strength-wise, he is doing everything any other player is doing."
What weight do you want him to be?
"We are trying to get him over 200 pounds. And he is right about at that right now. But we would like for him to be 205. But right now is all about strengthening up around the knee and his core."
It is almost like you are changing them from 4 star players to 4.5 star players because you are making them better basketball players physically.
"That is our plan. That is our entire goal. Everything designed in this room is made to help them become better players on the court. We are trying to maximize their potential. If they have any limited factors - weight, mobility, flexibility, reaction - we are going to try and increase or decrease all those that we can in order to help their performance on the court."
Now that you have worked with your performance center for a year, how has it changed for you in how you do things in the center?
"This has helped me to be better at what I can do. I can help guys even more due to the resources that we have. I can tailor workouts now, whereas before things were somewhat subjective. We can now track every practice and see exactly what our loads are. And we know where we want to be in practices a day before the game in order to give ourselves the best opportunity for success."
What kind of adjustments have you made in what you have them do this year compared to last year?
"We have tweaked some exercises depending on the guys. Guys need different exercises."
Have you added any new machines this year?
"There is nothing new in this room this year but there are several things that I would like to incorporate to go along with what we are already doing.
"We do have some stuff on the court that we using. During the design process I told them I wanted it a certain way compared to how they built it. It allowed guys to get into more natural positions, especially our post players. The way they designed it wasn't set up for a guy who is 7-foot."
When do you have the guys with you during the day?
"We are going in the afternoons most days and on Friday we will go in the morning. Wednesday, we will come in during the morning as well. Quite a few of the guys will come in on their own and do other stuff in the morning. A lot of the guys will come in twice a day four times a week.
"Things are changing a little bit due to a foreign tour. When you talk about the amount of load that is going out on the court I have had to change some stuff that I am doing in here at this time of the summer in order to offset the amount of loads that we are getting out on the court to make sure we are where we need to be at this time of year"
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network.