Oct. 16, 2013
By Callie Counsellor
Northwestern Athletic Communications
Followers of the Northwestern's men's basketball team will be seeing a lot less of Dave Sobolewski, JerShon Cobb and Alex Olah, and a lot more of Kale Abrahamson this season. No, not in terms of playing time -- in terms of body mass.
Sobolewski, Cobb and Olah each lost weight this offseason and Abrahamson packed on a few pounds as part of new coach Chris Collins' heavy emphasis on the sports performance program.
"We've really tried to embrace our strength and conditioning, and (the sports performance staff) has done a great job with our guys," Collins said. "It's something that we embrace, is being in great shape and trying to be physically ready to play every night."
Sobolewski said he went from about 193 to 177 pounds and he's already feeling the effects of the change.
"I feel good, I feel really good. I feel like my legs don't get as tired, not throughout the course of a practice but throughout a longer time period. Throughout the week I feel better," he said. "I feel like I've really been able to change my body without losing strength."
For Cobb, who sat out all of last season, the conditioning change was necessary to get back in playing shape, and he lost about 20 pounds this offseason. In addition to a regimented program designed by the NU sports performance staff, the junior, along with teammate Sanjay Lumpkin, traveled with a college all-star team on a European exhibition tour, competing in Belgium, England, Germany and other European countries. After a year off the court, Cobb said the return to competitive basketball was exciting, and it eased the transition back into the NU workouts this fall.
"It helped a lot," he said, "just to be out on the court with refs and going against other teams that aren't your teammates, playing with other good players too, it helped a lot."
While Sobolewski and Cobb focused on dropping pounds, Abrahamson worked on picking up a few.
"I needed to get a little bit stronger and bigger," he said. "There's some big guys in the Big Ten so it was a lot of work in the weight room... everyone's always bumping you around, and it helps to just have a little extra weight, it (keeps) you from getting injured, it allows you to do more stuff on the court as well. I mean, pushing back, you've got to be physical in this league."
Most of the weight was gained in the weight room, but a few extra meals also helped the process.
"I lived off-campus this summer, so I kind of was right next to the fridge," Abrahamson said. "So I just lifted and ate a bunch of meals a day, and I had this diet plan."
The mastermind behind these new diet and conditioning programs for the team is Sports Performance coach Mike Schweigert. He said the coaches determine which players need to change their body types to fit different roles, then turn to Schweigert to make it happen.
"Some guys need to do a lot more running and metabolic conditioning which is just high intensity and cardio-based," he said. "Kale was only running one to two days and most of his time was spent weightlifting while Olah and Cobb were running and being very, very active, even within our weight training sessions, five days a week. It kind of plays up to what they need to accomplish as a player."
The program changes now that classes have started, and it will change again once the season begins. Right now, Schweigert said, players are lifting three days a week and will switch to two days a week once the season starts because of classes, game schedule and NCAA time restrictions.
Every player will be assessed throughout the season and their program may change for the next offseason.
"Kale may graduate into the general program, he may have to stay. It's the same with weight-loss guys; they may have to come back to that, depending on how they do nutritionally," Schweigert said. "(Freshman Nate) Taphorn is a guy that we may look at and say, `you've just got to get bigger and stronger,' so he may get on a program like that. At that point it will kind of be reevaluating at the end of the season."
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