Wichita State big men haunt the weight room in the summer

Wichita State strength and conditioning coach Kerry Rosenboom wants his men’s basketball bigs to play more forcefully in 2015-16. While that group contributed plenty to last season’s Sweet 16, they didn’t display physical play to the level he wants.

“My theme, and the bigs know it, is ‘Fear the bigs,’” Rosenboom said. “Our physicality, in my mind, was really at a low since Coach (Gregg) Marshall’s been here. All our returning big guys decided they wanted to do two-a-days. They would come in in the morning and do certain body parts, get some extra protein in. They would come in the afternoon and do the same thing.”

Rosenboom expects sophomore center Rauno Nurger to benefit the most. Nurger played little as a freshman because of his inability to rebound and defend physical players in the post. Rosenboom expects a bigger and stronger player this season, one that might be able to take better advantage of his offensive skills. Nurger is around 240 pounds with the goal of adding eight pounds.

“He started the (2014-15) season at 242 (pounds), but it just wasn’t a good weight,” Rosenboom said. “Then he got sick and he went down to 224 and never really recovered. His strength has gone way up. Everybody that comes in notices added musculature for him.”

Senior center Bush Wamukota is working on strength and flexibility. His jumping ability is improved. Sophomores Shaq Morris and Rashard Kelly are taking advantage of the off-season as workout partners. Kelly is sculpting his body and his 232 pounds look better. Teammates tell Rosenboom that Kelly’s leaping ability is improved. Morris is working harder than in his two previous summers and Rosenboom is encouraged that his change in work habits is a trend.

“People should understand that he’s getting there,” Rosenboom said. “He’s just matured. Those two together have been incredible partners. They couldn’t have accomplished more than they did this summer.”

Other items from summer workouts:

▪  Senior guard Ron Baker found a way to impress Rosenboom, even after four strong years in the weight room.

“After he pulled his name out of the draft, his work has been to an all-time high,” Rosenboom said. “Over my 28 years, he’s been one of my hardest workers. He took that up a level.”

Rosenboom said he told Baker to take three weeks off after the season. Baker took one.

Rosenboom wants Baker to play at around 211 pounds, down from 218 last season, to add quickness and agility. Like Fred VanVleet, Baker worked on jump training over the summer, wearing a weighted vest.

“He pays so much attention to his body, that I think that’s why you see, no matter how many times he takes spills and dives on the court, he’s healthy,” Rosenboom said. “He does focus on everything he needs to do for recovery.”

▪  Senior forward Evan Wessel will also drop a few pounds in preparation to play more on the perimeter. Wessel played last season at 220 and will try to drop around 12 pounds.

“He’s getting leaner,” Rosenboom said. “He’s jumping better. He, as always, has done a phenomenal job.”

▪  Sophomore guard Conner Frankamp joined the team last December after transferring from Kansas. His first goal was to add strength and his weight is up around seven pounds to 174. Rosenboom wants him to play at 182.

“He has made tremendous strides,” Rosenboom said. “He’s working his tail off.”

▪  Senior center Anton Grady is working on strengthening his legs in an attempt to ward off knee injuries.

“That should keep him a lot healthier than he’s been in the past,” Rosenboom said.

▪  With freshmen such as Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie, strength is the first order of business. Weight gain comes later. McDuffie ended the summer around 195 pounds and Rosenboom wants him to gain 10 pounds by November.

Shamet started the summer at 178 pounds and is up to 185. He is expected to play at 195.

“He’s a future leader for me, without a doubt,” Rosenboom said. “His work ethic is phenomenal.”