If David VanDyke’s Stony Brook basketball experience is any indication, business is about to pick up for Rutgers athletics.
VanDyke, formally announced Thursday evening, has a spectacular injury track record and reunites with Steve Pikiell in the Rutgers athletic department. Athletic director Pat Hobbs announced VanDyke as assistant athletics director-strength and conditioning, where he will work with many programs, including basketball.
There is no black magic or voodoo involved, but instead, a focus on flexibility and mental toughness. Stony Brook simply did not lose players to injury during Pikiell’s strongest seasons and VanDyke gets the credit.
“Very rarely in his time with me did we ever have a player miss games, and that’s something I’m real proud of but that’s his work that he did with flexibility and nutrition and conditioning strength,” Pikiell said on the hire of VanDyke. “We’ve gone a five- or six-year period where guys didn’t miss games. We had a torn ACL which is obviously an injury that can’t be prevented but we really had guys on the floor, all the guys that were on the roster available to us. That was a very important part of our success, especially the long seasons.”
Van Dyke’s role goes far beyond basketball at Rutgers, including work with 23 of 24 programs.
“We are very excited to welcome David into the Rutgers family,” Hobbs said. “The physical well-being of our students is of primary concern. Coach VanDyke has a successful record of enabling young men and women to achieve peak performance.”
VanDyke expressed enthusiasm in his statement to the press.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to help student-athletes excel, both on and off the field, at Rutgers University," he said. “I have had the good fortune of working with coach Pikiell for many years. To further that relationship, while building many others under the leadership of Pat Hobbs, is a blessing. I can’t wait to work with our programs to help shape success in the Big Ten Conference.”
VanDyke’s basketball value is already underway with six hours per week allowed with the team in the offseason.
“Getting a very highly-acclaimed strength and conditioning coach was one of my first priorities here, and he’s already brought some discipline and conditioning to us and I’m looking really forward to what he can do in the future,” Pikiell said. “He’s taken players that I’ve had in the past and completely transformed their bodies and how they approach eating and their injury capacity to play with injuries and those kinds of things.”
Injuries quickly became the theme for Eddie Jordan’s final season.
Rutgers lost Shaquille Doorson and Ibrahima Diallo for the majority of the year with foot problems.
Junior college transfer DeShawn Freeman sat out with a knee injury until an indefinite suspension ended the season. Rutgers also battled injuries with Jonathan Laurent, Bishop Daniels and Greg Lewis and played games with as few as seven scholarship players in 2016.
“That was the most important thing for me was to get him on board the quickest,” Pikiell said. “He can have the most impact with the hours that you can be around players and I thought that was an immediate need here with the injuries that we’ve sustained in the past and with the bodies that we’re going to get ready to play against in this great conference. He was an immediate priority and I think he’s one of the best in the country. He’s already paying dividends.”