If David Lee has a breakout season, credit Grant Hill with an assist. When the Orlando Magic forward underwent surgery on his left ankle last March, that opened up space on the Day Planner of Hill's shooting coach, Chip Engelland, for a 6'9" collegiate banger with a jerry-built jumper. Twice a week for two months in the off-season, Lee drove the two hours from Gainesville to Orlando for 90-minute sessions with Engelland, who overhauled the Gators forward's shot and virtually doubled his range, to 17 feet.
"For the first two weeks all I did was [stationary] one-handed shooting," says Lee, who in addition to blocking 48 shots and leading the team with 6.8 rebounds a game as the Gators' center last season, shot 64.8% from the field, mostly from close range. Lee learned a lot from Engelland but didn't burn a lot of calories. "I figured these would be high-intensity workouts, but I never broke a sweat," Lee says.
For that Lee went home to St. Louis and hooked up with another coach, Hammer—his legal name—who put Lee on a regimen of plyometrics and weight training, and also revamped his diet. Lee went from 235 pounds and 12% body fat to 253 pounds and 8% body fat. (Gators coach Billy Donovan was so impressed that he has based training-table breakfasts and dinners on Hammer's diet plan.)
The biggest benefit the Gators may receive from Lee's off-season may be his increased strength because Florida's front line was often outmuscled last season. To counter that weakness, Christian Drejer, a 6'9" sophomore who missed 23 games last season because of an ankle injury, has added 18 pounds of muscle, and Chris Richard, a 6'8", 230-pound freshman who was Florida's Mr. Basketball in 2002-03, arrives to add power and aggressiveness.
The Gators are eager to erase the memory of a blistering 68-46 loss to Michigan State in an NCAA second-round game last March. It was their third straight first-weekend exit. This season, they hope, they've been rebuilt to last.
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