Welcome to Boot Camp | Inside LSU basketball’s “three days of hell”

By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor

Time flies when you’re having fun.

In Boot Camp, the three-day conditioning litmus test Will Wade and strength coach Greg Goldin require LSU’s basketball players to complete before they can practice, it creeps by, ever so slowly.

“It’s a long hour and a half,” says sophomore guard Skylar Mays.

Junior Brandon Sampson has another description of it.

“Three days of hell, man,” Sampson says. “That’s all it is. It’s most definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I’m glad I got through it.”

The Tigers opened practice September 29, but before any of them could take the floor, they had to complete Boot Camp. At 6 a.m. each morning, the team hit the practice facility for a series of workout stations, including ropes, medicine balls, VersaClimbers, stationary bikes, and running.

Lots of running.

“Man, I’ve never ran this much,” says Mays. “I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. It’s all going to pay off. We know the work we’ve put in, so we’re confident we’ll be one of the best teams in shape this year.”

The program is something Wade and Goldin – “I hope I never have to coach a game without him,” Wade says of his strength coach – have used since their time at Chattanooga. Wade brought Goldin with him to VCU and, now, to LSU, as well.

“I think he thinks I’m some type of wizard,” Goldin says of Wade.

The only thing worse than boot camp? Doing Boot Camp solo. On Tuesday, Galen Alexander, who missed the initial workouts while recovering fully from a knee injury, participated in his own boot camp off to the side, while the rest of the team practiced.

“It’s probably been the hardest thing they’ve ever done in their life,” Goldin says of the team’s workouts. “That’s how we want it. Without pressure, we wouldn’t have any diamonds.”

The biggest obstacle to completing the workouts isn’t physical, says Mays.

“It’s more a mental thing,” he says. “You can’t put it into words. You just have to experience it. You’ve got to prove yourself. It’s really a mental grind.”

Which, Wade says, is the point of Boot Camp. Sure, it establishes a foundation for the team’s physical conditioning moving into the season, or, as Goldin says, “The bigger the base, the higher the peak.” The better conditioned LSU is now, the more they can build up their baselines during the season. It also puts the players in the frame of mind SEC basketball demands, Wade says.

“It’s going to be two or three possessions with six minutes to go in the game,” he says. “You are either going to figure out a way to win or whimper your way down the stretch and get blasted. We want to be in great shape in the last six minutes and we want to be mentally tough to where we can execute and physically pound people in the last six minutes of the game. That is what it boils down to. How tough are you going to be? You are going to either make an excuse or make a play. We want guys that are going to make a play because they have been working hard and know that is the expectation and it’s what they want to do.”

By Wednesday, when Boot Camp wrapped up, almost everyone was glad to see the other side of it.

“You look back on it, once you get to now, you see how big of a jump you made as a player,” says Mays.

Almost everyone.

“I say it was fun,” says Duop Reath.


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Cody Worsham

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