Sport

Knight bounces back

SHAYNE HOPE

September 20, 2012

Perth Wildcats big man Matt Knight has made a dramatic change in his body shape over the off-season in a bid to avoid a repeat of the injuries that have plagued him for the past two years.

The hard-working centre spent a long, cold winter recovering from shoulder surgery and altered his diet to shed 7kg from his hulking frame, believing it would make him more agile and play a major role in keeping him fit.

Wildcats strength and conditioning coach Will Markwick and physiotherapist Dave Philpot have cast a keen eye over Knight, who says he is in the best shape of his career as he prepares to chase an elusive championship ring and get back in the frame for Australian Boomers selection.

“I’ve been 113 to 115 kilograms the last two years and I’ve suffered some soft-tissue injuries, so Will and Dave have tried to get me lighter this year,” Knight said.

“The way I get up and down the court now is probably the best I’ve felt since my second year in Sydney [2009] when I had one of the best years of my career.”

KEY TO TITLE HOPES

Knight suffered an injury to his left shoulder and pinched a nerve during a regular-season game in February.

He fought through pain to play a leading role for the Wildcats in the play-offs.

A fit Knight is integral to the Wildcats’ hopes of atoning for last season’s grand final defeat to New Zealand.

He will bear much of the front-court load after Luke Nevill was squeezed out of the squad due to pressures of the salary and player points caps.

The 209cm Knight will be put to the test when the Wildcats compete in the NBL pre-season tournament in Melbourne later this month and Markwick is pleased with his charge’s progress since the surgery in July.

“Matty’s sweet,” Markwick said.

“He’s got a little bit to go with his rehabilitation but he’s back into full training.

“He’s spending a fair bit of time in the gym getting strong and getting his shoulder function back to where it was.”

PATH TO REDEMPTION

Knight hopes to secure a place in the Australian team for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain and plans to use the upcoming NBL season as a launching pad back into the national set-up.

But for the Wildcats, this season is all about taking the next step and reclaiming the title that New Zealand has held for two years.

“To be a minute and a half away from winning a championship, we’ve talked about it all off- season,” Knight said.

“We’ve just got to pay attention to the little details because that’s what cost us in the grand final.

“We’ve had the same team for three years now so we’re very confident heading into the season.”

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