BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Can't Stop Won't Stop
A Summer Of Intense Workouts Taught Ryan Anderson How To Finish. Now He'll Try To Do It On The Court
Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
It’s a Tuesday morning in the heat of the summer, but Ryan Anderson is already in the weight room. He’s 38 minutes into a high-intensity workout with strength coach Nick Asermelly, with two minutes remaining in the drill. Anderson has been going as hard as he could for the first 38 minutes, a little more time than in a college basketball game. He still has 120 seconds to finish hard, getting as many reps as he can till time is up—or until he can’t go anymore. But Anderson keeps going, all the way until he can’t even move the weight anymore.
And if he ever lacks motivation for that final push, all he has to do is think back to last season for the Boston College men’s basketball team. The Eagles finished with a record of 9-22. It was a trying season for everyone, with more downs than ups.
“The thought I always had is that the feeling of the pain and the fatigue I was feeling at that moment, the pain that I was feeling in my muscles or my legs or whatever I was feeling at the time of that workout was like nothing compared to the pain I felt after every single loss we had last year,” Anderson said. “It’s just kind of like taking that pain from last year and feeling it in a different way throughout the workout. It’s just mentally pushing through it, knowing that it’ll help me. It was just converting one pain and another pain and trying to get rid of them.”
His freshman year was a challenging one despite his personal success, as Anderson had become accustomed to winning by the end of his high school playing days.
“It just kind of challenged my love for the game,” he said. “You have to know everything’s not going to go your way in sports. When everything’s going your way, it’s easy to love what you’re doing, to love playing basketball. But when you start to have struggles … you gotta be able to have people that you go through that with and be able to rise up over it and be successful, because it’s going to feel even better when you are successful.”
Despite his personal success in his rookie campaign on the Heights, Anderson was not satisfied—he wants to win. The losses are what drove him in the weight room over the summer. The losses are what kept him in gym after practice working on his shot, and the losses are what pushed Anderson to go the full 40-minute workout even when he wanted to just give up. He knows the dividends that determination will pay starting Sunday in the season opener, and throughout the rest of his life.
It’s called the Anderson Workout—miss one shot in a game, and you’ll have to make 25 of those same shots in practice the next day. Or if you’re unlucky and go 6-for-15 shooting in a game, you’ll be in the gym for a while after practice. That’s 9 shots you have to make, 25 times each.
Anderson has adhered to this exercise ever since he was in high school, when his assistant coach at Long Beach Poly High School, AJ Diggs, drilled it into him.
“I start with form shooting, post moves, and then I go through some of the game shots that I take, almost every game,” Anderson said. “Whatever shot I miss, I have to make it 25 times. I go through and pick the spots that I missed. It’s a good mental thing. You feel confident next time you take that shot in a game that you’ll make it.”
The workout is something that Diggs has had many of his players trained to do, and Anderson is no exception, but it’s what makes him stand out now at college.
“Everybody has to go to practice, everybody has to do weights, and as the season starts to progress, the one thing that normally stops is getting extra shots up,” Diggs said. “Ryan, as a freshman, started the year off shooting the ball horribly, and then as the season went on, he started getting in the gym and getting extra shots.”
Anderson saw the results of his hard work paying off, as did Diggs, who watched all of Anderson’s games last year from across the country. While the Anderson Workout is an integral part of the sophomore’s practice schedule, it’s not something a lot of people notice him doing.
“It’s just something about doing the extra work that nobody else gets a chance to see,” Diggs said. “They come in and now this year, he’s magically able to make threes or he’s able to do certain things. But people don’t see the extra work that he’s put in.”
Head coach Steve Donahue didn’t even know that Anderson had this workout, but said that with the type of dedication he’s seen from him, it’s not shocking.
“That’s great,” Donahue said. “I didn’t know about that, but he’s very conscious of what he’s doing out there, he’s very cerebral. He’ll come off the court and we’ll get—all of our guys are assigned to one of our assistant coaches, and he’s always in here looking at the film.”
Anderson’s work ethic is always something that has driven him—even when he was a 6-foot-3, out-of-shape ninth-grader. That’s the first time that Diggs saw Anderson and noticed something special about him.
“One of the best things about Ryan is that he has a really good work ethic,” Diggs said. “He’s a kid that you don’t have to worry about if he’s getting in the gym—he’s always getting in the gym himself.”