Junior center/power forward Ryan Hollins is returning from off-season knee surgery, and gave us an update on his condition.
How's the knee?
"Good. It's feeling a lot better. When I came back to school I was cleared to play. And then Saturday I was cleared to play full court for an hour a day. And that's what I've been doing."
So is that how long you can go - for an hour?
"It's not that that's how long I can go, but they just want to be careful. It pays to be safe."
Starting practice on Saturday, you'll be able to go the entire practice?
"I should be able to go the whole practice, or however long the trainer feels is necessary."
Does it feel okay? Do you feel a twinge or anything? Do you think about it?
"I mean, of course, I think about it. It's on my mind. It wasn't like I actually came down and did a play and hurt my knee. I'm not worried about that. I just want to stay stable. And I've been feeling good, so everything is positive."
They took out cartilage?
You don't remember specifically when you injured it?
"It didn't feel bad at all, and I felt good through the whole season. It was just after the season, through the weights and the workouts and probably not properly preparing to train. You know, stretching, and making sure I was ready to go. That's when it caught up with me."
Has it set you back getting ready for the season?
"Of course, any injury is going to set you back. But I don't think it was anything too big to set me really back."
Are you rusty?
"Yeah, I feel a lot of rust. That's just natural. But not enough that's too major. I think I'll be ready to play my best basketball when the season comes."
And you have a month until the first game...
"Right. Basically a month, so I should be good. I'm playing well right now, it's just the little things."
So you've gained some weight in the upper body, right?
How much can you bench press now?
How much weight did you gain?
"I don't know, because my weight is weird. It fluctuates so fast. I'll be 225 and then 227, and then 223, in what seems like an hour later. It's gone up, but as far as the numbers go, it's hard to tell you."
As far as working on your lower body, what are you doing now?
"I've been working out with (program trainer) Tony Spino. He gives me exercises to do, leg lifts, and things to strengthen my knee and my quads."
Most of the weight you gained was in your upper body, so now you're trying to catch up with the lower body?
Playing the four position, is that a good thing for you?
"That's a great thing for me. I'll be able to help out the team a lot more. I feel very natural at the four position."
What are some of the distinctions between the four and the five in this offense?
"You have to handle the ball. Everything you do is not back-to-the-basket. You have to be a lot more skilled. You face up, you have to make plays. The ball's in your hand a lot more. Basically when you're playing the five, you have to wait for the ball to be swung around and get to you. The five is always supposed to be the first look, but that's not how it goes all the time."
So, you're looking forward to it, to showcase your skills?
"Yeah. And I'll still be playing the five, so I'll be able to play both ways."
Facing up, shooting and handling the ball more, have you been working on those skills?
"Yeah, I always work on my shot, and my dribbling drills. I don't train as just a five man, or just a four man. I do everything for every position."
How do you feel about the upcoming season?
"I feel real good."
Have you played with some of the freshmen yet?
"Yeah, we've been playing. They're all talented. They're going to step in. They're all freshmen, but they're going to help."
With more perimeter shooting, what does that do for you?
"That's big. It opens up our offense. Teams came in last year and knew what we could do, and what we wanted to do. We didn't have a lot of shooters and drivers and they knew who they were. This year all of our guys can shoot it and drive it. And we have good low-post game. So that will definitely help out."