Boot Camp has not broken the spirit of Kansas University's Fab Four freshmen basketball players.
In fact, Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs, Brandon Rush and Julian Wright are "handling it better than last year's freshmen," KU senior Jeff Hawkins said Wednesday - the third day of Bill Self's early morning, two-week conditioning program.
"They are in better shape. They've come in prepared. It's not bothering 'em too much," Hawkins said of the workouts, held at 6:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 8:30 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, a change from the 6 a.m. starts of the past.
Hawkins said the freshmen had been "quiet and focused" as they endured their first Boot Camp, which has consisted mostly of 90-minute defensive drills and conditioning.
"They listen very well. They don't want to talk a lot. It wastes some of the air time they need in all the running," Hawkins said. "We've only been through three days. They don't know what to expect on the fourth day, because it gets harder every day until the last day."
Hawkins said the newcomers had been a breath of fresh air for the Jayhawks.
"We all get along. That's the key. Last year, a lot of people didn't get along with certain people. It was kind of tough," Hawkins said, not naming players he considered problematic.
"It's sort of like my first two years up here with coach (Roy) Williams. Everybody loved each other as a teammate. I think it's what's special about this group of guys. We look out for each other."
Freshman point guard Mario Chalmers - who said he had been setting his alarm "between 5:45 and 6 (a.m.) to be able to eat breakfast and stuff" - said Self had been "pretty vocal with the freshmen letting us know college is a whole different style from high school.
"In high school, all four of us were stars on our teams. Here, we've got to get everybody involved by being a team player. We've got to go from being a superstar to a role player."
Freshman guard/forward Julian Wright said the message has been received loud and clear.
"We're not in high school any more," Wright said. "We are all on the same page here. The freshmen ... we have no agendas. We came here to play with great players under a great coach in coach Self."
Wright said the toughest part of Boot Camp was "just the intensity, going from drill to drill and there's no breaks. I don't have trouble getting up in the morning. The trouble is getting warmed up, getting the blood flowing."
Chalmers indicated the toughest drill "had to do with closing out and jumping and touch the backboard.
"We've had a bunch of defense drills. Coach has been preaching defense, defense, defense."
The Jayhawks must be in good shape to run the ball.
"We will be a fast team. We've got enough players to do that," Hawkins said. "The slowest persons might be Sasha (Kaun) and Micah, and they are pretty fast. Coach is talking to just run. We want to run. I'm assuming that's what coach wants. As long as we are able to handle our business on the defensive end, he'll let us run."
¢ Wright's foot fine: Wright, who had surgery July 28 to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, says he's feeling fine. "It's getting better. I would say I'm not injured. I'm ready to play," he said. "There's still a little pain. This time of year you've got to be ready to go. I wouldn't do anything to hurt the team by working out and hurting it more (so) I've been monitoring it and evaluating it."
¢ Class checkers: "If you are one minute late, or 16 seconds late to class, it's just like an absence," Hawkins said, not complaining about penalties handed out to those late for class during Boot Camp. "These are the two most important weeks out of the whole year." Why? "Because it's Boot Camp. Coach stresses everybody has to be perfect these two weeks."