BURN THE HORSEOver the course of the next week, UALR's players will report back to Little Rock to begin summer classes and preparation for the 2012-2013 season.
Thirteen of the 14 players on the roster are scheduled to be here this summer with only freshman Kemy Osse not present (he'll be here in August). One rule change this year permits coaches two hours per week to work with players in the summer.
"What's really good about it is just the accessibility to our guys," UALR Coach Steve Shields told Burn The Horse. "I'm really excited about this group."
The UALR players will continue to work with strength and conditioning coach John Barron this summer. His past work is on display with UALR's returners. Michael Javes is up to nearly 235 pounds (he reported last year closer to 210) and redshirt sophomore Gus Leeper is topping out at around 250 pounds (likewise he was closer to 210 when he originally reported).
That will be important for UALR's freshman class that includes Mareik Isom, Stetson Billings, Josh Hagins, John Gillon, Andrew Poulter and Kemy Osse. All except Poulter need to put on weight to increase their effectiveness at the college level.
"Mareik Isom and Stetson Billings have already been here this summer and they'll have the jump on some of the other guys. They all need strength and weight," Shields said.
But just because the coaching staff is able to spend some on-the-court time with the players, doesn't mean they'll go too hard with the basketball drills.
"I don't want it to be a situation where the guys wear out. It's such a long year and you've got to be careful," Shields said. "Getting a base to them is critical. We didn't have that last year and I think it impacted our start to the season."
Those missing from last year's summer workouts were Will Neighbour (international play), Michael Javes (not cleared), Chuck Guy (hernia), Ben Dillard (hernia), Eric Lawton and Reggie Fondren (both finishing up at juco).