Reshaping Of Team Not Only Reconstruction Project For WVU’s Logan Routt
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Without question, the number one priority for West Virginia’s men’s basketball team this offseason was to erase the lingering after-effects of the terrible team chemistry that sent the 2018-19 season spiraling out of control. That seems, at least at this point, to have been achieved, with player after player noting that the attitude and work ethic of everyone on the team this summer is much improved.
While that was also a goal for senior center Logan Routt, who likewise commented on the dominant storyline heading into the team’s trip to Spain which commences on August 3, there was also a personal goal he had set for himself. After a several years of adding bulk to his once slender frame, he dove headfirst into a conditioning regimen designed to take him in the opposite direction.
“We had a month off and I was here the whole time training,” said Routt, who wants his final year in a Mountaineer uniform to be more a memorable one. “It’s been my diet and everything. I am doing the same things court-wise to improve that I have been doing the last four or five years, but I hadn’t focused on my body as much. I was always trying to bulk up. Now I’m leaning up a little bit and feeling the best I ever have, and that was the plan.”
Anticipating that West Virginia will again try to push the ball upcourt for early opportunities, Routt knows that to stay on the court he must be able to sprint up and down it relentlessly. Of course, that’s harder for a big man to do than a lithe and nimble guard, but if his improved conditioning pays off, it could mean more court time. With West Virginia planning to play two bigs at the same time for extended stretches, he also has to know that all of those minutes can’t be taken up by Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. If he can spell each of the when they need a break, and cover if foul trouble rears its head, he could appreciably improve the 8.3 minutes per outing he garnered last year.
“I lost about 15 pounds,” said the Cameron, West Virginia, native. “I worked really hard with (strength and conditioning coach) Shaun (Brown), and I feel like I am in the best shape of my life. That was my biggest focus. I feel like I jump higher, am quicker and have more endurance.”
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In addition to the benefits of the ten extra practices that West Virginia was allowed to prepare for the Spain trip, Routt also believes the benefits of playing actual games, even against unknown opponents, will help the team, which is melding four scholarship newcomers (and perhaps more) into a lineup that also has five players with just one year of Big 12 experience.
“[Without these games], our first one would be the Blue and Gold game and then a scrimmage against a local team,” said Routt, who along with Chase Harler are the only grizzled veterans of the Division I scene. “The [newcomers] are fun to be around, they have energy and are positive. I like the vibes then have. Nobody came in with an ‘I don’t want to listen’ attitude. That’s all you can ask for, and they are doing a great job with that.”
That’s a good starting point for the newcomers, who will have to learn quickly if West Virginia is to reverse the results of a year ago. Like the current crop of sophomores, who underwent their own growing pains a year ago, they will have some ups and downs, but they at least appear to be approaching that challenge with an attitude that will allow them to succeed.