Tyler Griffey Looking To Regain Stroke

Tyler Griffey (Jack Lyman)

The Fighting Illini basketball program has more depth this year than in recent memory. Everyone is battling for playing time. Some who gained a foothold last year are getting less time on the floor this season, including sophomore Tyler Griffey. The power forward plays behind a talented senior, but a recent injury and slump have also slowed his progress.

Tyler Griffey is one of the hardest workers on the Illinois basketball team. He wants a career in strength training, and he practices what he will someday preach. However, workout regimens don't work as well when injuries take their toll. That happened during fall workouts.

"I had some tendonitis in my knee, and I couldn't get it released. It was really bugging me. I had to sit out a couple practices too. I didn't have the explosion. It didn't hurt to keep going, but it hurt to stop. So they rested me a couple days to get treatment and stuff.

"Now it feels 100%. Just these last couple weeks I'm starting to get back to full strength, getting my legs back under me and getting back to the routine that worked for me last year. The other night I came in and did a series of leg workouts. I felt it the next day, but in the long run it's gonna help so I can get loose."

Griffey is possibly the best three point shooter on the team. Last year he would routinely make 15-20 threes in a row when warming up before practice. He hasn't found the same groove this season so far. He says part of it might be his tendonitis, but he's noticed another problem he seeks to diagnose and correct.

"Perhaps it had something to do with that (tendonitis). I've been coming in and getting form shots. I don't think the ball's coming off well. I'm having a couple problems with my shot, it's not falling at the rate I want them to.

"So I've got my dad coming up, and he's bringing one of my coaches who helped me out with my shot a lot growing up. He can look at it and diagnose it. Every third shot, it's coming off wrong. We'll try to tweak it and see what's happening."

Watching his more inconsistent shot in practice this fall, it feels like he is losing the confidence a shooter needs.

"Yeah, I kind of sense that too. I feel all right. I've just got to prove to coaches in practice. I'm coming in and using the routine that worked so well for me last year. Late at night, getting shots up, just spending as much time as possible in the gym.

"We have two games coming up where I can get my confidence up, get back in a groove and get things rolling. I've just got to keep getting in the gym and keep working."

The workout warrior amazed everyone with his vertical leap this fall. He soared 40" off the ground from a standing start. That's rarified for any athlete, let alone someone who is 6'-8" and 230 pounds. But workout warriors do those things.

"I got stronger from jumping rope. I devised a workout this summer. I did 1000 jump ropes every single day. I stuck with it."

That's got to help with rebounding.

"Absolutely. I get up so much quicker, and I can get up again and again."

At least, he can jump that high when healthy and confident. Griffey has also been expanding his game beyond outside shooting. Illinois coaches want him to bang in the post at times as well. A summer trip overseas helped with that.

"When Coach (Jay) Price and I went over to Europe, one of the things he stressed was for me to get more post touches. That's what I've been working on. I've still got some improvements to make, but it's getting there."

Griffey is much happier talking about team than self. He loves the competitiveness in practices.

"The competitiveness of this team, its so much fun coming to practice, coming to workouts every day. It's competitive in the weight room too. Meyers (Leonard) and I keep wanting to outdo each other.

"The competitive spirit is something you like to see. Getting after it every day, playing their hearts out, everybody hates to lose. It's fun."

Griffey hopes to work his way back into the mix soon. He wants to contribute to what he believes can be a special year.

"Our goal is, 'The sky is the limit.'"

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