Strength Coach Mike Curtis Building the Virginia Basketball Program

For the past month, the Virginia basketball coaching staff has been practicing with the team for no more than two hours a week – the maximum amount of time the NCAA will allow. This, however, doesn't include the time that strength and conditioning coach Mike Curtis has spent with the team. Coach Curtis, a former Virginia basketball player, enters his second year as head strength and conditioning coach for the men's basketball program, coming from the same position at Michigan. A video on what Curtis has been doing with the team so far follows the jump.

"What we try to do here is we work on mobility, we work on stability," Curtis told VirginiaSportsTV.com recently. "We work on building a foundation of movement and efficiency first and foremost before we try to gain strength."

"What I'm trying to do is have a productive four years of development. A lot of times in the NBA, what I've found I got athletes that were a product of "Let's just get him big, let's get him strong," but they were dysfunctional. So what I want is I want a functional athlete that's going to go through four years of progressive development, and then when they leave here, have an understanding of where their body is, what their body needs."

So far, freshman Billy Baron has been impressed.

The way he's able to focus on certain parts of the body, such as the IT band for my tendonitis ... the way he's able to do that has really shown me a lot."

And that's important, because with only six returning lettermen and seven first-years on the roster, and Sammy Zeglinski possibly still recovering from hip surgery over the summer, Baron may get substantial playing time early on.

According to head coach Tony Bennett, the freshmen will be the key this year, and he's looking to the leadership of Mike Scott and Mustapha Farrakhan to help the freshmen buy into the system.

"You've heard the term 'baptism by fire,'" Bennett said. "The way our team breaks this year, a number of [the freshmen] will have to be part of it. They're going to have to contribute and play."

Curtis knows that, if the freshmen are going to have a positive impact this year, it will be up to him to make sure they've got the physical ability they need.

"At the end of the day, they have to go and play the game. So if I can make them faster, if I can make them more explosive, if I can make them more efficient, if I can have them understand leverage and things like that that translate into more success on the court, I think I've done my job."

"The people here probably get an enhanced side of me because I'm passionate about orange and blue."

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