Aug. 13, 2015
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Ben Lammers sees the big picture in looking at the 2015-16 Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball season and sees himself playing a bigger part in it.
Step One in becoming part of that big picture is getting bigger. That’s a task easier said than done — just ask the team’s nutrition and strength coaches, whose goal it has been to put some meat on the frame of the sophomore center from San Antonio, Texas.
Getting the 6-10 Lammers up to his current 241 actually could be considered something of a victory, a hard-earned one, at that. Lammers recalled the weight-gaining program he and equally skinny teammate, junior forward Quinton Stephens went through over the summer. The roommates would hoard cartons of Core Power protein shakes and go to town.
“We would take like seven or eight cartons to our room — there are like 12 bottles in each carton — and we would go through them in like a week and a half,” recalled Lammers, who is taking in in the neighborhood of 4,800 calories a day (he was less sure how many calories he burns). “They’re easy calories. It’s like 270. You still eat a lot of regular food. But after you eat like your 1,000-calorie breakfast, you have like one or two of those and it helps.”
Core Power may be sending more cases to Lammers’ room after seeing how he played during Georgia Tech’s recent trip to The Bahamas, when they swept all three games against local teams the Atlantis All-Stars, the Providence Storm and the CTG Knights.
Lammers, who averaged 1.2 minutes and 1.5 rebounds over 5.9 minutes in 19 games his freshman season, put in 22 points (7.3 ppg), on .583 shooting (7-for-12) — he shot .800 from the foul line (8-for-10) — with 25 rebounds (8.3 rpg) in 53 minutes (17.7 mpg) in the three games, including grabbing a team-high 14 caroms in the opener against the Atlantis All-Stars.
The three-games, his first game action since the end of last season, were a big confidence builder for Lammers, who spent his freshman year fighting through the double-whammy of trying to adjust to the college game while coming back from injury.
“It’s definitely a lot different than high school or AAU ball,” he said. “Everyone’s a lot bigger, stronger, faster. It took me a while to get used to the whole type of play, the physicality. In high school, when you’re 6-10 you can just kind of stand there and catch a rebound without having to do much. But here, when you’re playing against guys that are at least 6-10, 250, 260, you have to actually box them out and get physical.”
That’s even more of an uphill battle considering his weight got as low as 215.
While he’s still not as big as he plans to be, Lammers put the summer to good use.
“I’ve been working a lot on my face-up game in the post, like 10 to 15 feet, where I can just turn around for a jump shot,” he said. “Some guys, are like 270, 280 so I’m not necessarily going to be a bruiser this season. So I have to develop a jumpshot.”
That he even considers being a contributor offensively is a huge step forward mentally. It’s a thought that rarely entered his mind last season.
“It took me a while to get comfortable enough where I could feel free to shoot it without any hesitation,” said Lammers, who shot .429, when he did put the ball up. “But now I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. I guess I get in the flow better of the game.”
Coach Brian Gregory believes Lammers showing signs of being less gun-shy could lead to great things for him.
“He’s much more aggressive,” said Gregory. “He’s very skilled. He can really shoot the ball and I like big guys that can shoot. You can’t make any shots if you don’t shoot. He’s starting to get it.
“The one thing, sometimes even I forget, is when we started practice last year, he had about a month of basketball in the previous six months because of the injury,” Gregory continued. “So it was important for him to gain some confidence back, not only in his game, but in his body in terms of recovering from a serious injury like he did. I think this summer has been really good for him and we’re counting on him heading into the year. I think Ben will greatly benefit from what we’ve done this entire summer, ending with this trip.”
Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, who got a front-row seat during the summer, as he rehabbed his injured foot, liked what he saw from Lammers during the season.
“He’s improved a lot. I feel like he has more confidence in himself, he’s gotten stronger,” said Georges-Hunt. “He’s just gotten more comfortable within the college style of play. Over the summer I’ve seen a real big improvement.”
A meaner, leaner — although not TOO much leaner — Lammers, the kind that was on display in Nassau, will be a valuable addition to a Jackets team that must replace bigtime board-bangers Demarco Cox and Robert Sampson.
It’s a meatier role that Lammers would eat up.
“There are not as many upperclassmen in the position they were in last year,” he said. “I feel like there’s a better chance for playing time, especially since I have a year under my belt I’ll be more experienced and a key part of the team.”