Runnin' Wild

Scott Hastie
January 31, 2013
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

Check out the bench of a Marauder opponent at the start of the fourth quarter. Chances are you’ll see a good portion of the starting line-up grabbing water and sucking wind.

McMaster is outrunning their opponents. And this isn’t by chance – it’s by design. And it didn’t start in September, either. Head coach Theresa Burns put together a summer training program for her team, beginning in May.

“[Our program] is year-round, very focused, very directed and thought-out,” explained Burns.

Training begins as soon as exams finish, as the coaching staff looks to “kick-start” the preparation for the upcoming season. To compete at a CIS-level requires a year-round commitment and the Marauders are willing to fulfill that commitment. The majority of the strength and weight gain happens in the summer, with balanced diets and workouts varying in intensity week-by-week. During the season, the team does lifts semi-weekly to maintain their achievements of the summer months.

The reason for the rigid training program is simple: fast break buckets. Transition hoops are the easiest in basketball and Burns has assembled a roster fit to create and connect on fast break opportunities. McMaster’s rookie Danielle Boiago fits the bill perfectly and has shined in the “run n’ gun” offence, averaging 15.6 points per game to lead the Maroon and Grey.

“We’re a smaller team, so a strong point for us has to be beating teams down the court,” said Boiago. “For us, it’s all about easy lay-ups.”

The first-year kinesiology student referenced a pre-season game against Mount Royal as the time when the light bulb went on in her head that this offence can dominate other teams.

But it’s not just the coaching staff that has the squad in the best shape of their lives. Burns gives credit to the Marauders’ strength and conditioning crew, lauding their communication with coaches as a huge asset in the team’s success.

“They’re on top of it. They manage it well, their feedback to coaches is outstanding,” said Burns. “We can coordinate intensity levels at practice. Just a really professional management style from Jeremy Steinbach and his staff.”

One of the keys to creating a team that is top-to-bottom fit has been personalizing the workouts of each player. Different positions require different strengths, and the Burns & co. have embraced this reality.

“We’ve managed to modify enough of the training for individual needs. That has been beneficial. We don’t have our post players doing a ton of mileage,” explains Burns.

“We also connect with Sports Medicine and if you’ve got a shoulder injury, we modify what you’re doing in lifts.”

Tough workouts have the potential to lumber on the minds of athletes at any level, but the danger looms larger over student-athletes who have to balance a multitude of obligations. But Burns’ players aren’t complaining. They’ve embraced the training. The 20-year head-coaching veteran was in the gym with her players, doing one-on-one workouts to support her players.

When Boiago was asked if there was ever a time during the intense training sessions that she thought the work ethic demanded of her was too much, her answer was pretty simple.

“No. No.” - with zero hesitation.

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