TGW: Scale of Justice
Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Bewley has turned a weighty issue into a strength
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Mike Bewley doesn’t think twice about weighing in on the Georgia Tech men's basketball team.
In fact, it’s something he does once a week -- usually, Monday -- and is something that has gotten the attention of the entire team with just a few simple -- and to some, scary -- words.
“‘Men, it’s time to weigh in.’ That’s the worst right there,” said forward Charles Mitchell, with a laugh. “When you step on that scale you never want to let yourself down or let your teammates down knowing you have to be a certain weight or around a certain weight. You work hard so when they say, ‘It’s time to weigh in’ you feel proud that you reached that goal each week or each day that he set for you. It’s something that you feel proud walking away from every day.”
Mitchell is one of a growing number of Georgia Tech success stories of Bewley’s off-season nutrition and conditioning program, as over the summer he lost 25 pounds of fat mass -- only two pounds of which was lean body mass. He’s noticed the difference.
“Just being on the court more and making outstanding plays I probably never thought that I would make in a game,” he said. “Your energy’s always up. When you have that weight on you can’t go get those effort plays. When the weight is off you just feel more explosive, you feel light on your feet and it’s just a whole different ball game.”
“Chuck just did a phenomenal job this summer,” said Bewley. “I always hand him a 25-pound plate and I say, ‘You were playing with that last year. You were running up and down the court with that for an entire game.’ Can you imagine trying to play the game of basketball with that on your back?’ I don’t care how strong you get that your performance is going to be compromised. Nick [Jacobs] is the same way. He’s done just a tremendous job. He’s a guy definitely willing to be here and be a part of the program. I’m really proud of him.”
The difference on the court has been phenomenal. Mitchell has ranked among the leaders in rebounding and offensive rebounding all season and he’s pulling in 3.0 more than his previous best season.
Mitchell’s not alone. Guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, last week’s ACC Player of the Week has become a solid candidate for All-ACC consideration, due in large part to a sleeker body-type.
Over Tech’s last five games, of which the Jackets have won four, Georges-Hunt has been a horse, logging 38.2 minutes per game, playing 36, 38, 38, 40 and 39 minutes. The 40-minute game against Notre Dame on Saturday marked the first time in 17 years that a Yellow Jacket played the entire game and he came within a minute of going for back-to-back 40s. He’s provided quality with that quantity, averaging 22.2 points on 62.5 percent shooting (30-for-58), 78.7 from the line (37-for-47) and a 2:1 assists-to-turnovers ratio (22:11) as the team’s main ball-handler. Georges-Hunt has been at his best late in the game, hitting the game-winning shot in a crowd to beat Notre Dame, then racing the length of the court in the closing seconds, absorbing a punishing foul, then sinking both free throws to top Clemson on Tuesday. He also defended, and shut down Clemson star Jaron Blossomgame in the second half. v After the game, he credited Bewley.
“Coach Bewley got me right. He got everybody right,” Georges-Hunt said. “Coming back off an injury I was winded. I couldn’t breathe for nothing. But I put in the extra work to the point where I could recover quicker. [Bewley] does these different exercises with us to help us recover quickly and to see how fast our body recovers we wear the heart monitors, things like that. We do different tests.
“Those tests help,” he added. “I don’t need much time to recover. When it’s a dead ball that’s all I need. For the ball to be stopped or somebody mopping the floor that’s all I need, that quick second to catch my breath and I’ll be fine.”
Georges-Hunt’s senior success and his body of work -- in fact, his body, period -- are the culmination of four years of hard work.
“Coming in I was about 229. I was kind of chubby but now I’m more cut and defined,” said Georges-Hunt, who now weighs 217 with 7.7 percent body fat. “It’s just amazing looking back at old pictures. People are saying, ‘Man, you’re really cut up. They must have you on a diet or something.’ I’m like, ‘No. I just started eating right and watching out for what foods I eat.’”
“He taught me how to eat right, getting the right foods in your body to get energy you need to perform at a high level and he gives us reminders in the morning,” he said. “You can tell by what he did with Chuck and Nick, the way they brought their weight down and the body fat went down. Their play has proven that eating right and putting the right fluids in your body and the right foods you can perform at a high level.”
The Jackets are performing at their highest level of the season, heading into Saturday’s game at Boston College. Bewley is impressed by how much more energy and fewer signs of fatigue the team has shown, especially late in games.
“I’ve never seen, our guys this year be in a situation where they’ve been physically out-matched or been so tired that they can’t compete,” he said. “So I like to say, ‘They’re good to go from the neck down. We’ve got to get them ready to go from the neck up.’ That’s Coach [Gregory]’s job. That’s all of our jobs.”
For Bewley, that job can literally start at sun up. He’s taken a keen interest and been especially hands on when it comes to getting the right foods in the players’ bodies, certainly in the morning.
“Mike wants you to have your carbs, your eggs, a light breakfast just to get your day going, get your metabolism going in the morning,” said Mitchell. “Especially when you come here for cardio in the morning, after that he’ll cook breakfast then it’s off to class and you start your day. It’s pretty cool. That shows Mike will go out of his way to help you that far. I’m happy to have somebody like that in my corner.”
“I cook them breakfast. That’s how I bribe them to come in the morning,” Bewley said with a laugh. “They get up in the morning, usually are here at 7:00, getting their extra cardio in and then when we get done, we have our fueling station. We cook up breakfast just to get them here.
“They like my eggs. I make them them basically scrambled eggs. It’s a combination of eggs and egg-whites,” he added. “We use turkey sausage in there and we do fat-free cheddar cheese and then they get to choose whether they do a whole-grain-type bagel, break or cereal, some milk and some fruit.” They kind of enjoy that. It allows them to come in just a little bit later and not have to worry about hauling all the way over to campus, getting something to eat and THEN going to class. They can just get fueled up right here.”
Bewley’s “fueled up” reference fits right in with the mechanic/race car analogy of which he is especially fond.
“I tell them, ‘You’re a Ferrari, you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t,” he said. “I’m your mechanic, the weight room is my garage, it’s my pit shop and the practice court is the test track.’”
The mechanic defers credit for the cars’ successes to the cars themselves, however. He especially raves of his lead car, Georges-Hunt.
“If everybody was like him I’d be out of a job because you just have to tell him once and he’ll do it,” Bewley said. “He’s a remarkable young man. He’s a guy that when we start talking about nutrition with the young guys, he’s in their ear saying, ‘Listen, Coach Bewley will change your body.’
“That’s my nutrition champion,” he added. “He’s one of my biggest advocates in the weight room because he’s seen what’s happened with his body and how it’s changed and, obviously, it’s allowed him to become the player that he is. You can look at him now and say, ‘That’s what I want to look like.’ What 18-year-old kid coming into an ACC Basketball program and has a teammate that looks like that, wouldn’t be, ‘Yeah, I want to look like that.’?”
Bewley can’t help but break into a smile as, from across the room, he watches Nick Jacobs and James White walk toward his office to weigh in. Inside the office, Mitchell fiddles with the scale. He kids Mitchell, who walks out of the office sporting a big smile.
“‘The reason why Chuck is smiling is that I’m not standing over him right now,” Bewley kids, raising his voice so Mitchell is sure to hear. “So he can tell me ANY number!’”
“I wouldn’t lie to you,” Mitchell snaps back, smiling.
“I already saw your number this morning,” Bewley responds, then confides. “That was the most important one. He’s in great shape.”
In Bewley’s hands, the same can be said of the program.