Dayton senior guard Vee Sanford worked hard to improve his ball-handling in the offseason. Off the court, he committed himself to improving his body.
Sanford packed on eight pounds to prepare for this season — all muscle, of course. He weighs 204 pounds now thanks to a combination of weight training and dietary changes. He ate a protein-heavy diet featuring protein shakes made by strength and conditioning coach Paul Ivkovich.
In the long season ahead, the Lexington, Ky., native needs every extra ounce he can get. That means fewer ounces of Sprite and Mountain Dew, he said, more water and Gatorade, and no candy.
“As sweet as I get is green tea,” Sanford said Thursday.
Sanford averaged 12.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game last season. It was his first season with the Flyers after transferring from Georgetown.
“It felt like it was my first time playing in about three years,” Sanford said. “It took a toll on my body. I took it upon myself to get bigger and stronger. The season’s long.”
Sanford scored 11 points in 18 minutes last Saturday in Dayton’s 89-62 exhibition victory over Ryerson at UD Arena. The team has one more exhibition game at 7 p.m. Saturday at home against Findlay.
A week later, the Flyers open the 2013-14 regular season against IPFW at UD Arena. From then until March, there’s little time to rest. UD plays seven games in the last 22 days of November.
“It’s going to get real next week,” Sanford said. “I’m trying to enjoy every little bit because it’s my last year. As a team, we’re taking it day by day and getting with the grind. We all know how fast the season comes and how fast it goes. Next time we look up, it’ll be January and we’ll be in conference play.”
Even though the regular season hasn’t officially begun, Dayton has been practicing since Sept. 28. The new rule allowed NCAA Division I teams to practice 30 times in the 40 days before their opener.
“We’re working very hard,” Sanford said. “We’re deeper this year, so people getting hurt shouldn’t be an issue. The staff has been approaching this smart, as far as us starting early.”
Team healthy: Coach Archie Miller said the team came out of the first exhibition game healthy. He remembered to knock on wood, knowing his team was about to practice Thursday.
“We’ve had some nicks and bruises, just like everyone else,” Miller said. “When you practice a lot like we’re practicing right now, you’re going to have that. For the most part, we’re doing pretty well.”