ANN ARBOR, Mich.–Ricky Doyle was already a strong kid when he arrived at Michigan.
“Country strong,” really, according to Wolverines coach John Beilein, who said this past season that Doyle has Mitch McGary-esque qualities waiting to be unleashed.
At times, they were quiet evident. Doyle, then a 6’9,” 240-pound freshman, rebounded a little bit like McGary.
He finished at the rim a little like McGary.
And there were times when he defended and dominated the paint like McGary.
Now a sophomore, Doyle is visibly more tone and muscular. He looks more like McGary.
Evidently, that’s what a summer with Jon Sanderson, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, will do for a guy.
They get ripped, toned and find another level of energy.
“Oh, definitely–Sandman–we call him Sandman here–has helped me a lot, getting a lot stronger,” Doyle said during Michigan’s media day at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor. “I’ve been maintaining between 250-255 now. I feel good running up the court and maintaining that weight.
I feel good now. I’ve got to get used to, you know, the extra weight a little bit. But I’m getting the hang of it. I just feel great out there.”
The off-season program included new adventures in weight lifting, which is something Doyle really do much of in high school. He swam and did the types of things that mold the “country strong” crowd.
“Sandman was really heavy on Olympic-style lifts,” Doyle said. “So I did a lot of power-cleans, a lot of squatting–a lot of lower-body lifts.”
Don’t forget about the snatches and dead-lifts.
“My numbers have have skyrocketed since I first got here,” he said, smiling.
In 204-15, Doyle bumped chests with Minnesota star big man Mo Walker. His 12 points and six rebounds helped the Wolverines win, 62-57. Walker got his rebounds, grabbing 10 on the night, but he was limited to just five points–that was due in part to Doyle’s defense.
He’s working on putting it all together. A year ago, he had five ore more rebounds eight times–but he never hit the 10-mark. That’ll likely change in 2015-16.
“I’ve been working on trying to become a better rebounder,” said Doyle, who averaged 3.2 boards, 6.1 points and 18.2 minutes per game. “You know, that’s a big aspect (of improvement). Just trying to be a really good rebounder… work on that–B.A. (assistant Bacardi Alexander) has been helping me with that.
And of course, finishing around the rim is a skill you always want to have. If you don’t work on it, you can lose it real easily–so that’s another skill I’ve been consistently working on.”
During his media press conference, Beilein joked about the increased use of analytics. Yes, even he uses them, he said. He’s watching everything. Every rep, every step, every shot and every play. A constantly evolving head coach with familiar methodology, Beilein is always finding ways to get the most from his players.
Video: Watch Today’s U writers Adam Biggers and Thomas Beindit discuss UM
He usually does, and that’ll likely be the case this season, as Beilein, who enters his ninth year with the Wolverines, has set a new standard for his rising sophomore. Learning how to operate with Ricky, Version 2.0, seems to be the new goal for both Beilein and Doyle.
“He came in country strong; I mean, he didn’t lift a lot of weights–but he was still strong, walking in the door,” Beilein said. “I think one of his biggest issues was to just change the muscle mass and make it more productive–as opposed to just having 250 pounds. What is the composition of those 250 pounds? And his lean muscle mass has gone way up.
There is a number for that, an analytic stat, which Beilein surely knows by heart. He probably has tallies on Doyle’s calisthenics, too.
“So I think he’s running and he’s jumping (well)… big things always, with any big guy, is conditioning–because they’ve got to be in such great shape,” Beilein said. “He’s probably in the best condition he’s been in. Now he’s still challenged in some other areas, that he’s working on every day. And I just look at the young guy, and now he’s a full (age) 19. So he’s getting better.
He’s far from a finished product. But I like what I see.”