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Cheikh Samb is getting stronger

Krista Jahnke has an excellent article about Cheikh Samb's development in the Free Press today:

"He's unbelievably improved from training camp to now," forward Antonio McDyess said. "Before, you could push him around, get shots off on him. Now he's gotten so much stronger. This guy lifts weights so much, it doesn't make sense. If he takes off his shirt, he's pretty ripped up. It's hard to push him off the blocks now."

A lot was made about his beanpole frame when he was first drafted, but he's made measurable improvements in his strength (above and beyond McDyess' locker room observations):

In one test, strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander has players stand a certain distance from a target on a wall and throw a medicine ball at it. The goal is to hit it hard, like a line drive. At first, Samb couldn't hit it at all, even when using an 8.8-pound ball.

Now he can do it with a 17- or 18-pound ball, partly because he has gained 25 pounds in two years.

"And that's pure muscle," Kander said, "because his body fat has fallen a percentage or two."

Even with an NBA body on the way, he's still extremely short on experience -- as Jahnke points out, he's played all of 17 games on this side of the ocean, including preseason, summer league and the D-League. But if he can marinate down in Ft. Wayne for another year or so, he just might be legitimate rotation filler come 2009, be it late next season or early in 09-10.