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Rutgers Basketball: Steve Pikiell Hires Strength & Conditioning Coach

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UPDATE: Rutgers Announced David Van Dyke as Assistant Athletic Director - Strength & Conditioning

Original Story

On Sunday night, Rutgers men's basketball coach Steve Pikiell was a guest of Lori Robinson on WFAN (click this link and scroll down to Sunday for full interview) to discuss his first days on the job.  Pikiell disclosed that he has a strength and conditioning coach in place and that he is already leading offseason workouts with the players.

This is a notable hire, as Van Dyke oversaw the strength and conditioning of all 20 sports teams at Stony Brook, not just the basketball team.  His full bio is here and below is a snapshot of his responsibilities there and his philosophy:

David VanDyke is in his 11th year at Stony Brook and in his second year as the Assistant Athletics Director for Athletic Performance after serving nine years as Director of Speed, Strength and Conditioning. Van Dyke is responsible for the mental and physical development of all 20 of Stony Brook intercollegiate programs.

VanDyke oversees the development and implementation of comprehensive strength and conditioning for all Seawolves sports. He primarily works with Stony Brook's men's & women's basketball and women's soccer teams, but also oversees two full-time staff assistants and one graduate assistant, who implement his strategies with the remainder of Stony Brook's athletic programs.

In his programs for strength and conditioning success, VanDyke incorporates Olympic lifts, high intensity training methodology, plyometrics, speed, agiility, functional movement screen and balance training, free weights, pneumatic resistance, variable resistance machines, medicine and stability balls, bands and chains. All of VanDyke's programs are designed towards injury prevention and increasing performance potential.

Van Dyke was a football player at Penn State in the late nineties and was a strength and conditioning graduate assistant there from 1998-2001, while earning a Masters of Science degree in Kinesology. He then became a S&C coach at LaSalle from 2001-2004 before landing at Stony Brook. While overseeing every sports team at the school, Van Dyke was instrumental in the development of a top notch strength and conditioning facility. This experience could prove very useful as Rutgers undergoes facility improvements for the athletic department, including basketball.

Rutgers football coach Chris Ash took Kenny Parker with him from Ohio State to run the strength and conditioning program on the banks. Early returns on Parker's work with the football team have been universally positive.  The difference is that Parker took a promotion to come to Rutgers, although his faith in Ash is certainly no less than Van Dyke's in Pikiell.  But that makes this hire even more remarkable, as Van Dyke took a lesser role in coming to Rutgers.

This move tells us a lot about Steve Pikiell as well.  Van Dyke is overqualified in leaving his position of overseeing the entire athletic department at Stony Brook, to now run the S&C program for just the Rutgers basketball team. He must have extreme loyalty and faith in Pikiell to make this move. Van Dyke stayed at Stony Brook for 11 years, which was the same time period that Pikiell was there. Following him to Rutgers for what appears to be a lesser role is a huge validation for Pikiell as a program builder.  Just as Karl Hobbs leaving UConn to become Pikiell's top lieutenant was, as well. These are established coaches leaving stable and secure positions to follow Pikiell to what is considered the worst power five program in college basketball. For Pikiell to be successful in turning around Rutgers, he must inspire people to join the program and trust his vision.  Having Hobbs and Van Dyke gives Pikiell examples of two leaders to point to that believe in him and his plan. That is so important in this early stage.

It also demonstrates that Pikiell has a complete view regarding player development. In this Adam Zagoria article, Pikiell discussed the importance of strength and conditioning in developing players:

"I think developing their bodies is very important," he said "Strength and conditioning, those coaches get six hours a week. We get two. So that's a big chunk of this. Player development is going to be a big piece of this. I think evaluation is huge, too. You may see a player that everyone is not sure about that you're going to have to steal and develop. So I think they are all components of how to build a program and especially when you're trying to catch up."

It's been exactly two weeks since Pikiell took over the program, but building blocks are already being put into place. There have been a lot of changes in the past week, and more should be expected soon.  What is clear early on, is that Pikiell's experience in building a program has enabled him to hit the ground running at Rutgers. Established coaches are following him to Rutgers. It's exciting to watch him execute his plan and make necessary changes for the betterment of the program.  There is still much to be done in building the program, but the early signs point to better days ahead.