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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 30, 2017 1:00 am

Coach has Hoosiers finding strength to succeed

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – If college basketball is a marathon and not a sprint, Indiana's players feel prepared for the long haul.

Opening training camp Friday, the Hoosiers began a protracted journey they hope lasts into April and carries them to the Final Four in San Antonio. They credit Clif Marshall, the team's head of strength and conditioning, for getting them ready for a six-month grind.

Hired in the spring by new IU coach Archie Miller, Marshall has had five months to mold players with weight lifting, cardio work and diet, pretty much anything that would affect their bodies, and he used that time to win over converts.

“He has a lot of insight on how you should go about maintaining weight – gaining weight, losing weight,” senior guard Robert Johnson said. “He's big on 'prehab,' as far as getting ready for workouts and things like that, making sure you stretch, get warmed up, different activities that we do, so I think he's going to be really good for us.”

The 37-year-old Marshall came to IU from Ignition Athletics Performance Group, a multisport training firm based in Cincinnati. He replaced Lyonel Anderson, who headed up the strength and conditioning program under Miller's predecessor, Tom Crean.

While players enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of Anderson, who became known for his bench celebrations during games, Marshall provides a different perspective the Hoosiers have appreciated.

“Coach Clif helps me with my diet and making it a way of life,” sophomore guard Curtis Jones said. “Trying to just, as I continue to play throughout my career, have a good diet and track my calories and things as I try to gain weight, and then in the weight room, just come in to attack every day.”

In the summer of 2015, Marshall designed a training program for Miller when Miller was coach at Dayton. Marshall also has worked in the NFL as a strength and conditioning assistant for Cincinnati and has served as a consultant for the Bengals since 2005. He got his start in the profession in college football, working as a strength assistant at Louisville, his alma mater.

Sophomore center De'Ron Davis, who dropped close to 20 pounds in the offseason, has been perhaps Marshall's biggest pet project in Bloomington. The staff awarded Davis a WWE-style championship belt for getting himself in better shape.

“It was a good experience,” Davis said. “(Marshall) is really focused on a push-and-pull mentality. He's big on recovering hard. In the weight room, for every push, we would do a pull, so he's really focused on the details in the weight room, and then, like I said, he's all about health. We work hard, but we also recover hard.”

Davis said Marshall respects players' time, which isn't surprising given that NFL stars A.J. Green, Luke Kuechly and Geno Atkins have been among Marshall's clients.

“He's the best at what he's doing, basically,” senior IU forward Freddie McSwain Jr. said. “He's the best.”

cgoff@jg.net