Rebels basketball:

Basketball strength coaches trade secrets during weekend seminar at UNLV

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Lee Taft, who runs the Lee Taft Speed Academy, runs basketball strength coaches through change of direction agility moves at a seminar on May 18, 2013, at the Mendenhall Center.

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UNLV men's basketball strength coach Jason Kabo discusses the Rebels' weight room techniques with several strength coaches from across the country on May, 18, 2013, at the Mendenhall Center.

Oftentimes when college basketball players step off the court, they stop competing against each other and return to talking as friends. Sometimes they’ll discuss each other’s relative strengths and weaknesses in hopes of bettering themselves and the person with whom they’re speaking.

This exchange doesn’t stop with players. There are various “fraternities” of college coaches who trade notes with each other, often at events such as the Coaches vs. Cancer gathering in Las Vegas two weeks ago. The same weekend as that event, a little less than 100 basketball strength coaches met at the Mendenhall Center on UNLV’s campus for a seminar geared to help everyone involved.

“A gathering of the minds,” said Jason Kabo, the UNLV men’s basketball team’s strength coach.

This is the sixth year for the event, headed by Utah strength coach Charles Stephenson, but the first time it’s been held at UNLV. Stephenson recently left North Carolina State for Utah, which led to him looking for a West Coast destination for the seminar. Enter Kabo, who was more than happy to host the event.

Not only did Kabo enjoy making sure the gathering went off without a hitch, he also sees the brand benefit of making UNLV a destination for some of basketball’s best in the business.

Some of the panel speakers included Kansas’ Andrea Hudy, Baylor’s Charlie Melton and VCU’s Daniel Roose, whose work to prepare players for the Rams’ “Havoc” full-court press is far from traditional. Kabo said Roose uses very few weight room workouts, instead having his players run drills like bear crawls across the court while pulling 45-pound plates.

Other speakers highlighted the benefits of TRX Suspension training or the different ways to use a Keiser machine.

The best drills, Kabo said, started with one coach explaining something, like how she warms players up before a game, and then people from the group offering up their own variations. Because while Kansas likely will have better athletes than Virginia, Hudy can still learn a new trick from the Cavaliers’ Mike Curtis, and vice versa.

“That’s the whole premise behind it,” Kabo said.

Walk out with more information than you had walking in. Kabo said some of what he took away from the seminar are TRX suspension moves that he may implement this summer.

More of the lessons could also find their way into Wednesday workouts very soon. During the summer, the Rebels lift weights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with about 30 minutes of agility and speed training beforehand. Wednesday, Kabo said, is for more individualized work based on the specific needs or abilities of each player.

At a meeting following the two-day seminar, the consensus seemed to be that Las Vegas would again be the destination, at least in 2014 — and maybe beyond. Kabo said he wants the weekend to expand to include high school strength coaches who, like their college counterparts, would pay the $160 fee for participation.

Whatever the crowd at next year’s event ends up looking like, Kabo has the success of this one and the knowledge gained to buoy his confidence into the upcoming season.

“Hopefully we can have it here for the next few years,” he said.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Be nice if the UNLV football strength coach attended this event.