Ben O'Donnell Helping Knights Prepare for 2011-12 Campaign

Sept. 29, 2011

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By Doug Richards

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - As a former college basketball player, Ben O'Donnell has a unique approach to strength and conditioning. O'Donnell, who played for the Knights from 2009-10, is in his first year as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach, and is working hard to get UCF ready for the upcoming campaign.

O'Donnell passed on playing for the Knights last season in order to intern for and learn from UCF strength and conditioning coaches Ed Ellis, Scott Sinclair and B.J. Faulk. Now O'Donnell is ensuring that the Knights are in top shape to be able to excel in head coach Donnie Jones' up-tempo style of play.

Official practices start on Oct. 14, and in the meantime, O'Donnell is working with the team four days per week. In addition to time in the weight room, the Knights are also working on agility and speed training on the court inside the UCF Practice Facility. Due to his background as a player, O'Donnell tries to tailor UCF's workouts to drills that will help the team on the court.

O'Donnell loves his new role with the team, and the results of his instruction have been impressive. Several Knights have lost considerable weight, while others like senior guard A.J. Rompza, have packed on extra muscle.

"I love getting them enthused. I love training these guys," O'Donnell said. "The atmosphere that we create carries over to the court."

As a redshirt sophomore, O'Donnell appeared in 11 contests as a point guard for the Knights two seasons ago. He spent the 2007-08 campaign at Florida State, where he played in eight games.

O'Donnell has received plenty of credit from UCF players, who have worked with him since the start of the summer.

"Ben has definitely been doing a great job," junior guard Marcus Jordan said. "We don't get any days off. He is always pushing us constantly."

O'Donnell does not expect too much praise from the Knights. He knows that as he continues to help keep the team in shape, he won't always be well-liked.

"They love me, but they hate me," he said. "I think they like the energy and atmosphere. But sometimes they hate the workouts, and that is a good thing."