When Saint Mary’s tips off against Arizona on Saturday night, center Jock Landale will have the task of offsetting the Wildcats size advantage, particularly the pair of 7-foot starters in Lauri Markkanen and Dusan Ristic.
This is the kind of moment the 6-11 Landale began preparing for last summer when he decided to get more serious about the game. He adjusted his diet and took a workout program back to his home in Australia for the first time.
“Basically, just the fact that I expected a lot more out of last season than I got,” Landale said. “My coaches always spoke to me about it and said I didn’t really go home with the right mindset and stuff like that. So, just knowing that I kind of gave up a year where I could’ve been playing at a higher level, that just made me switch.
“After the season we lost to Valparaiso and I was just like, all right I have to make this change or I’m never going to go anywhere as a player. It was pretty easy from there.”
For the next five months, there was no more pasta, sweets, soft drinks, cheese or salad dressing. Saying goodbye to ice cream was the hardest. The menu changed to eggs, bacon and avocado for breakfast. Chicken and salad became the lunch staple. Steak and vegetables were for dinner.
Landale said he can feel the difference. His points per game jumped from 7.9 as a sophomore to 16.8 as a junior. His rebounds increased from 3.9 to 9.3.
“Being at Saint Mary’s, it’s pretty easy to ... just work within the program and everything’s set out for you,” he said. “But the hard part is when you go home. That’s where I kind of slipped up. I went home and didn’t really have anything planned out last time I was home.
“Absolutely, (I could tell the difference). I could be on the court for more than 30 seconds and not be exhausted. I felt it instantly. My lateral quickness got a lot better. My vertical athleticism got a lot better. So, yeah, I felt it.”
The motivation was simple, Landale decided he wanted to maximize his potential and play professional ball in the future.
“I just realized I don’t really want to sit behind a desk,” Landale said. “I knew I wanted to play professional basketball at some point or another and from there it was pretty easy. I just got the mentality that this is what I have to do and I did it.”