Jan. 11, 2013
Maryland basketball teams finds source of strength in performance coach Kyle Tarp
By Alex Prewitt
(Kyle Tarp played cornerback for the UC Davis Aggies before graduating with a bachelor's degree in exercise biology in 2006. He capped his career during his senior season in 2005 when he intercepted two passes and had 32 tackles, helping UC Davis secure its 36th consecutive winning season.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - In his 15th season leading a Division I squad, Maryland men's basketball Coach Mark Turgeon can diagnose physique issues with a quick glance. Point guard Pe'Shon Howard, for instance, was too bulky last season, putting unnecessary pressure on his surgically repaired right knee. Center Shaquille Cleare was too robotic in his movements. Others, such as center Alex Len, needed to add weight and become tougher. Simply put, the Terrapins needed sculpting.
So last spring, Turgeon laid out his vision for the program's offseason workouts. And if Turgeon is the architect, Kyle Tarp is the builder.
A former college cornerback with a square jaw and buzz cut, Tarp is in his second season as Maryland's director of basketball performance, and the best evidence of his effect on the team is taped to his office window. The "before" shots of seven Terrapins look normal; most of the "afters" appear Photoshopped. In three months, swingman Jake Layman went from beanstalk to buff. Guard Seth Allen's back now resembles a cracked desert. Bulging veins have stretched guard Nick Faust's tattoos.
The pictures increase the players' confidence, but Tarp is more concerned with how his unique, basketball-tailored program translates to the court rather than any physical transformation. And each day, as he maps caloric intakes or body-fat percentages, he ponders the overarching question:
"Will it help the athlete achieve and accomplish what Coach Turgeon wants?"
After graduating from UC Davis in 2006 with a degree in exercise biology, Tarp worked in the private fitness sector until graduate school at the University of Texas. In Austin, he studied under Todd Wright, college basketball's first sport-specific strength coach, learning a nontraditional approach that emphasizes movement and fluidity over brute strength.