Dozens of apples sat on a counter at the Olsen Athletic Performance Center not far from where Casey Cathrall was working with members of the Dayton Flyers. That was one hint that Cathrall is working to not only make the Dayton Flyers stronger and fitter, but also healthier.
Since being hired as the new strength coach for the men’s basketball team in May, Cathrall has spent numerous hours in the weight room with the players. He had seven players with him on Tuesday afternoon, including three of the newest Flyers: freshmen Jordan Davis, Jordan Pierce and Jalen Crutcher. Cathrall is also leading shopping trips to Wal-Mart so he can teach the players what they need to eat.
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Cathrall wants to introduce the players to more fruits and vegetables so they cut back on their intake of processed foods.
“Every week we’re trying to make small changes to their diet that get them close and closer to what they need,” Cathrall said. “That’s part of the adjustment. A lot of times if you try to do a total overhaul, it can be very taxing and very stressful. My goal is their development over the course of their careers here.”
Cathrall replaces Patrick O’Neal, who was with the program for two seasons. Cathrall, a native of Scranton, Pa., comes to Dayton after two years at Louisiana Tech. He talked about his new job on Sunday with the Dayton Daily News.
Q: What attracted you to this position?
A: Obviously, the basketball program is phenomenal. It seemed like a real attractive opportunity for me. When I first heard about it, I pursued it really hard. I was thankful to get the opportunity. Here I am.
Q: What are you first impressions of the team?
A: I think they’re really motivated to do well. Obviously, they’ve had a lot of success here. Some of them haven’t had the opportunities maybe they’ve had in the past, whether that was playing time or an opportunity to be The Guy, so to speak. From day one, they’ve seemed open and eager to get better. They know the weight room is a big part of their success. I do things pretty differently from what had gone on in the past.
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Q: What are your philosophies?
A: My biggest thing is you have to be an athlete based on all-around movement. We do free weights, Olympic lifts, plyometrics, squats, benches, deadlifts, functional movements, everything and anything in between. At the end of the day, it’s, ‘What fits this athlete’s specific needs to get better?’ What I tell the guys is, ‘I’m not here to make you a better weightlifter. I’m not here to make you a football player. I’m not here to make you a body builder. I’m here to give you the tools to be a better basketball player.’ Everything we do has a purpose. It’s tied back to getting you to play the game the way we want you to play.
Q: What have head coach Anthony Grant’s instructions to you been?
A: Coach Grant has been very supportive in what I want to do and how I feel I can get our guys better. He’ll give me a little feedback based on what he’s seen on the floor and what guys are needing what. The nice part is I feel I’m totally on the same page as him in terms of what he wants and what he envisions. I know he wants to play fast and play up and down. He wants guys who are tough and durable and able to compete at the highest level.
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Q: How much have you been working with the players since you got on campus?
A: We’re slowly getting more and more guys on campus. By (the second summer session), we’ll have everyone here. I’ve been working with the guys every day: four lifts a week and lots of extra individual work, whether that’s stretching, whether that’s certain strengthening or corrective exercises or whether that’s conditioning. It’s been really great. We do up and lower splits, two days upper body, two days lower body. They’ve got three individual or small group basketball workouts with coach Grant. On top of that, they’re taking classes and they come in to see me and get extra work or come to see (trainer) Mike Mulcahey to get their bodies prepared for the upcoming season.
Q: Josh Cunningham suffered a serious injury last season and returned to play. How is he looking in the offseason?
A: Josh is doing really well. He’s someone that I think is very intrinsically motivated to be his very best. He’s come in every day and pushed himself and pushed his team. I obviously talked with him about injuries. He’s very excited to showcase what he can do, and I think he’s going to be a big part of our success this year. I’m happy and proud of the way he’s come in and taken the weight room by storm. He’s really working to change his mechanics. He’s a very ankle-dominated mover. We’re trying to get him to use his hips and glutes. When he does that, things like knees and ankles that have come up with him in the past, those will take care of themselves. He feels the best he’s felt in a long time.