James Hardy puts the Colorado basketball players through some legendary workouts.
Initially, the Buffs' strength and conditioning director is not a popular guy with sore newcomers who have never lifted a weight before. But skinny players like Alec Burks grow to love Hardy when they leave Boulder with NBA bodies.
In 48 hours, Tad Boyle's young CU squad might be running back into Hardy's arms.
Over the next two days, the Buffs are going to train with former Navy SEALs in an exercise known as "The Program."
Founded by Eric Kapitulik -- a graduate of the United States Naval Academy who served as a 1st Force Reconnaissance Platoon Commander, leading 20 covert operations specialists in Special Forces-related missions -- The Program's mission is to develop better leaders and more cohesive teams.
Boyle is searching for leadership on a roster with one returning senior and six freshmen. CU lost seniors Carlon Brown, Austin Dufault, Trey Eckloff and Nate Tomlinson from the Pac-12 Tournament championship team to graduation.
"It's a program that's designed for togetherness. There is some mental and physical toughness to it, getting guys outside of their comfort zone," Boyle said. "But it's also understanding what it means to be a part of a team, finding out who your leaders are.
"I think there are a lot of things that are going to come out of the next few days that will benefit our team in a lot of different ways. Maybe not with X's and O's or jump shots or making layups or playing defense, but I think important stuff in
Boyle's coaching mentor, Mark Turgeon, put his 2012-13 Maryland team through The Program this offseason.
"Mark really recommended it highly," Boyle said. "He said it's the best thing he's done."
In a video released by the Maryland athletic department available to view on YouTube, the Terrapins are asked to take sweatshirts on and off while treading water in a poll, players are shown carrying teammates across a football field and also lifting logs over their heads in unison.
Some of the Maryland players clearly struggled during the first day, but then senior forward James Padgett stepped to the front of the line.
"What stood out to me was James volunteered right away," said former Navy SEAL Coleman Ruiz, who put Turgeon's Terps to the test. "The team didn't come out as enthusiastic as we like to see, but thanks to James' leadership he got them to where they needed to be."
During the video, Ruiz could be heard saying that teams grow through "shared adversity" and that "fear is infectious, and so is enthusiasm."
Boyle is hoping the Buffs will be able to compose themselves in venues like Allen Fieldhouse and the McKale Center after surviving The Program together.
During Tuesday's practice, CU looked unstoppable for about 24 minutes during an intense scrimmage. And then the team hit the wall, which spoiled the fun and turned the session into a sloppy mess.
"One of the things I talked to the team about after practice today is that when we're fresh and feeling good about ourselves, we're pretty good," said Boyle, who has six freshmen and a total of seven new players. "Everybody is good when you're feeling good and everything is going well. It's more important to execute when you're tired and you're not feeling good. You have to be mentally tough enough to get the job done."
Eventually, Hardy always gets the Buffs over the wall. The former NAVY SEALs might be able to get this talented team to run through it.