STARKVILLE — Collin Crane’s job description extends far beyond using only weights.
Hired in May as strength and conditioning coach for the Mississippi State men’s basketball program, Crane learned from MSU coach Ben Howland and others what the Bulldogs did in the weight room with his predecessor, David Deets. He also discovered those things weren’t a top priority.
“Coach Howland was ready for a new challenge for our team,” Crane said. “That was something we talked about a lot in the process of me getting acclimated to our program. He wanted a new sense of what our team is going to be about, a new sense of identity.”
A few weeks into the summer schedule — Crane’s first exposure to the team allowed by the NCAA — and all parties are pleased with the results.
“It’s been very energetic. It’s been more locked in,” forward Aric Holman said.
MSU’s work in the weight room is built around a “much higher standard this year” that Crane said is geared toward results in March and beyond.
“We’re making them uncomfortable (on a daily basis) and making them push through that adversity,” Crane said. “We challenged them a little bit. A lot of these guys have the potential to play pro basketball. They know that. They know that’s a possibility. Let’s challenge ourselves every day to come in and take a professional approach.
“If I want to play pro, I can’t wait until that time and treat it like a pro, I have to train like a pro now.”
Crane also has introduced daily competition to the players. Crane said he ends each workout with it after allowing three or four players to select their teams. Holman has seen the Bulldogs’ energy level rise with the introduction of competition.
Crane was a four-year starter at Carson-Newman (2010-13). The three-time captain earned a degree in Exercise Science. During his time at Carson-Newman, he served as a strength and conditioning intern for the Florida Gators between his junior and senior semesters. Upon graduation, the university announced the Collin Crane Leadership Award in his honor.
Florida went 65-11 in the two years Crane was at the school. The Gators advanced to the Elite Eight in 2013 and the Final Four in 2014. He organized NBA draft training for standouts such as Bradley Beal, Chandler Parsons, Eric Murphy, and Patric Young.
Crane served as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Missouri State, where he worked with men’s basketball, tennis, and golf. He also spent two years as strength and conditioning coach for men’s basketball at Chattanooga.
One of Crane’s core values is a loud weight room.
“Our lifting sessions, you can never hear a whole lot because guys are always yelling commands at each other, calling out what set we’re on, what exercise we’re doing, what we’re doing next,” Crane said. “That simulates calling out plays on the basketball floor.”
It’s one more facet of the new era players have taken to.
“We love cheering each other on,” Holman said. “We can play our music in the background. We’re communicating with each other now more than ever.”
Crane is a certified specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA). He also is fully trained and certified in the Biosignature Modulation Level I program, an integrated system to track an athlete’s body composition and nutritional needs.
Crane hopes to add to his experience by incorporating new equipment. Crane is particularly taken to the pair of force plates. Players stand on the plates and jump, sending data to the Sparta Science System, which measures how much force a player generates in a jump, where in the foot that energy comes from, and whether that energy is generated by elasticity or raw strength. The data gives Crane information to tailor exercises to improve the vertical jumps of players.
Crane already has plans for injury rehabilitation: the Keiser system. It uses air pressure as the resistance generally provided by weights. In theory, it puts less pressure on the bones impacted by injury and a more customizable load on specific muscles.
“I’m very, very excited about Collin joining our program,” Howland said in a statement released by the school. “He’ll be a tremendous asset for our players and our program. He has an excellent background in strength performance training, and the fact he played basketball in college for four years is a plus. It helps when you’ve done it yourself from a strength and conditioning standpoint. He’s very bright and high energy. I’ve talked to many people, and they all speak very highly of him. I know he and he is wife (Courtney) are excited about coming to Starkville and being a part of this community. The university community and the Starkville community will really enjoy them.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson