Summer is the time for good examples to get started. Wichita State basketball is overrun with newcomers — most of them new to the ways of college life — and it's up to the veterans to make a good start.
"You help them out where they need to be and explain how everything works," WSU senior guard Joe Ragland said. "But more than explaining, you've got to lead by example. Every time they turn their head, or ask a question, they see you lifting hard and doing the right things so they can understand that, hey, that's the way it is around here."
When Ragland came to WSU last summer, it was Graham Hatch who caught his eye with his devotion to weights and conditioning, not to mention books and basketball.
"He didn't say too much, but if you watch him he was doing everything right," Ragland said.
This summer, eight newcomers are on campus learning the ways of WSU basketball in the weight room, classroom and Koch Arena. Six are freshmen, so almost everything is new. Guard Tekele Cotton notices how much Ragland and senior Toure Murry hate to lose pickup games. Ede Egharevba admires the quiet and consistent way senior Ben Smith and Murry perform in the weight room. Guard Ron Baker also keeps an eye on Smith.
"You can see in the weight room, he does things right," Baker said. "When we're playing pickup, he does things right. He kind of gets inside people when they're messing around."
Players mess around this week at their own peril. Strength and conditioning coach Kerry Rosenboom is picking up the intensity with his workouts. The Shockers are done with the introductory period. It's time to lift six days a week.
"From here on until the season ends," Rosenboom said.
The routine starts each afternoon with about 20 minutes of stretching, followed by 80 minutes of lifting. Next week, three days on the track and three days of agility training are added. Summer workouts take on a little more urgency this year. WSU will take an exhibition tour of Brazil in August, a trip that comes with 10 practices as a bonus.
Some players say they came to WSU carrying a good relationship with bars, plates and presses.
Freshman forward Jake White said his AAU team, run by former NBA and Southern Illinois player Chris Carr, emphasized weights. Cotton felt prepared by the weight program at Atlanta's Whitefield Academy.
"I'm not shocked, but it's a whole lot," he said. "I did a lot of weights in high school, but they're grown men in college."
For others, it's a new concept to lift every day, regardless of fatigue. When a player tells Rosenboom they are tired, he wants them to lift more so they won't get tired again. Armstead, who played two seasons at Oregon, said WSU puts a significantly bigger emphasis on lifting.
"In high school, I could do it if I wanted, but now I'm on a plan," Egharevba said. "It's tough."
The players usually hit the court after weights, playing pickup for an hour or two. They are starting the process of learning how to fit together. Already, roles and skills are coming to the surface.
"It's a big adjustment period," White said.
Forward Carl Hall, a junior transfer, loves to set screens, rebound and block shots. Armstead, who will sit out this season after transferring, always runs one of the teams as point guard. Baker impresses everybody with his scoring and knack for being in the right place. Freshman forward Evan Wessel looks comfortable playing on the court where Heights won the Class 6A title in March. Cotton is working on his jumper and looks stronger going to the basket. White, here little more than a week, displays a knack for tip-ins and offensive rebounds during one session. Guard Adam Hasty, a freshman walk-on from Ottawa, passes and rarely shoots. Egharevba is a bouncy forward with good quickness who wants to improve his ball-handling.
"I try to check out how everybody plays," Hall said. "Like who cuts to the basket, who does certain things. If I get the ball in the post, when I kick it back out, what's their best shot."