Had a chance in the locker room Thursday to catch up with first-year Florida strength and conditioning coach Preston Greene. Greene was hired last August to replace Matt Herring, who left to take the strength and conditioning coordinator job with the San Antonio Spurs. Greene left his alma mater, Clemson and also had previous stints as a strength coach at Stanford and UNC-Charlotte.
Q: What’s the first year been like for you as strength coach?
A: Very energetic. Very positive. Guys have been really receptive to change because change is never easy for anybody. Just with a new system and a new style and a new person as coach, from what we do is demanding from a conditioning standpoint. Transition is never easy but they were really receptive and I think the thing we focused on from the time-frame in August is getting in good shape and good condition because the way Coach Donovan wants to get up and down the floor, and play fast, that was a priority for us.
Q: What attracted you to the job? Did you know Coach Herring?
A: Knew him from the circles and stuff like that. But mainly I left my alma mater, Clemson, to come here. The main reason was just to have a chance to be part of that next championship and a chance to win at a high level. Not coming here to live in the past but coming here to move forward and to help be a part of that next championship. Coach Donovan is all about winning and so am I so it was attractive from that standpoint.
Q: In what ways is your strength program different from Coach Herring’s?
A: We probably do a little conventional strength training, a little more Olympic lifting, explosive type of training from that standpoint. That would probably be the biggest difference is we probably do a little more actual strength training, a little less of the functional things like that. We will incorporate a lot of the things Coach Herring did, but it’s less of a timeframe for that, maybe four to six weeks out of the year instead of 36 weeks.
Q: Two guys that a lot of fans ask about in terms of their strength and their body frames are Cody Larson and Erik Murphy. How have you tried to get them stronger and how do you get those guys stronger while making them conditioned?
A: Cody having redshirted last year, we wanted to kind of re-emphasize that this year since he wasn’t playing as many minutes and say, you are going to be on more of a redshirt accelerated program since you are not going to be playing as many minutes so we’re going to take advantage of that and train you four or five days a week, even though we are in season, where guys who play a lot of minutes may only train twice a week. We wanted to do that for Cody. And then Murph, actually took it upon himself from a maturity standpoint and actually realized he needed to get more physical and get tougher and stronger to stick his nose in there and rebound a little bit more to make him a better overall player. He approached me from that standpoint and did a lot more voluntary sessions. He stepped his frequency up as far as the amount of days we train while in season.
Q: Are there any gains that both players can make in the future?
A: Absolutely. The biggest thing for us, and this is true as a team, it’s hard to really a lot of the lower body, leg strength in preseason because we’re running so much and practicing so much. Erik knows he needs to get his trunk and his lower body stronger to really work on his explosiveness. We want him to be able to go from the ground up to rim in a matter of seconds, very fast, explosive things like that. Cody, knows, we want to put about 20 more pounds on him and make him very mean, physical, tough. He has the frame to do that but it’s going to take a little more time. But both of those guys have been really committed to the weight room.
Q: How do you balance strength training with a team that’s such a perimeter team that likes to shoot the ball, not have them bulk up too much to affect their stroke?
A: We have different styles of training for different guys. Kenny Boynton and Brad Beal and (Mike) Rosario, more of the perimeter, will actually do a different style of strength training than our post guys, then say Will Yeguete or Cody or those guys. Different training systems, not to get into the science of it, but different loading parameters for different people. Coach Donovan will tell me put 10 pounds on this guy, get 10 pounds off this guy, make Murph quicker, more explosive. So we’ll design the program off of what the guys’ needs are.
Q: When you see a team perform well in an overtime game, like when the Gators did earlier in the season against Arizona, is that something you take pride in, having a team with the ability to play extra minutes?
A: That’s one of the thing we preached all preseason, this is why we’re running, this is why we’re conditioning, this is why it is challenging right now, to prepare for your guys to play a 40-minute or longer game. The thing that we preach is you have to really think and perform when you are tired. That’s what separates some great teams from some good teams, performing under pressure when you are fatigued and when you are tired, pushing through that. That’s something we’ve preached all season.