Malik Story trims down to help Nevada

Don't be shocked to see Malik Story on late-night television doing infomercials for the new Malik Story L.A. Beach Diet sometime soon.

"A lot of cardio, bike riding, eating right," said Story, giving away his trade secrets. "I feel like I did before I went to college."

It is definitely a turn back the clock type of feel for the 6-foot-5 Nevada Wolf Pack junior shooting guard. Story, who no longer looks like a bulky weight lifter in a tank top and shorts on the basketball court, lost 23 pounds this past off-season.

"He's like a new player," Pack head coach David Carter said recently.

Carter and Story were clearly the spokesmen for the Malik Story infomercial a few weeks ago at the team's media day festivities. And Story was the shiny new product, sort of the Wolf Pack's very own set of ginsu steak knives.

"Come take a look at the new and improved Malik Story. He dices, he slices and, wait, there's more!"

"You're going to see me attacking the basket more this year," said Story, who seemed to treat the 3-point shooting arc last year as if he was a German Shepherd wearing one of those electronic shock collars.

It all started this past summer when he went back home to the Los Angeles area. He figured -- with a little help from his father Kenny -- it was time to return to the type of player he was in the spring of 2008 that schools like USC, Kentucky, Marquette, Indiana, Arizona and Georgetown drooled over.

"My dad got me into it," Story said. "He convinced me to go bike riding everyday with him down to the beach and back."

The Story slim-down plan involved a daily bicycle journey of 16 miles.

"It was a great way to lose the weight," Story said. "We'd have a lot of fun on those rides. You don't even know you're working out."

It wasn't all work and no play.

"Oh, yeah, sometimes we stop at the beach and have breakfast," smiled Story.

Story was listed at 225 pounds a year ago. But he admits he was 10 pounds or more heavier than that. Those 23 missing pounds, he said, left him at about 217 pounds heading into this season.

"I feel like a whole different person," he said.

Make no mistake, last year's bulked-up version of Malik Story was a pretty good college basketball player. Story had a solid Wolf Pack debut season, leading the team in scoring (14.5 points per game) and playing in a team-high 1,030 minutes in 32 games as the Pack went 13-19. He led the team in scoring nine times and was second on the team overall in assists (63).

By the end of the year he was the Pack's unquestioned go-to guy on offense, scoring 34 points in a 90-80 victory over Fresno State in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference tournament and 22 in a 66-60 second-round loss to New Mexico State.

"His ability to stretch the defense was huge for us," Carter said.

But Story was also kind of an enigma last year. At 6-5 with muscles on top of muscles, Story rarely put those muscles to good use, staying outside the 3-point arc for roughly half (197 of 400) his shots.

"He settled for a lot of bad shots," Carter said. "You'll see better shot selection from him this year."

There were a lot of reasons for Story's fondness for the 3-point shot last season.

One reason is that he is fairly competent at the art of shooting from beyond the arc. He made 39% of his threes a year ago. Another reason is that he was by far the Pack's most consistent outside shooter. And the third reason is, well, he simply didn't have the energy or quickness to do much of anything else on a consistent basis.

"I felt sluggish last year," Story said. "I didn't feel quick and my stamina wasn't there a lot of times."

Blame it on the bulk.

Story, more often than not, became a one dimensional player, shooting threes and doing little else. He was normally one of the strongest players on the court yet he averaged just three rebounds and three trips to the free throw line per game.

That's why he jumped on the bike and changed his diet this past summer.

"No more fast food," he said. "A lot of fish and brown rice."

Call him Ma-Sleek Story.

Story said he added the extra weight during the season (2009-10) he had to sit out at Nevada after transferring from Indiana, where he averaged 5.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 31 games in 2008-09. And, no, he wasn't merely sitting on the couch for a year trying to find his former high school teammates James Harden and Brandon Jennings on television playing in the NBA.

"I worked out a lot but I wasn't playing," Story said. "So I added bulk. I was lifting weights and not playing. I did that to get stronger but I lost a lot of quickness."

The year off from basketball was a transition year for Story. It was the culmination of a long, complicated, complex and tiring journey as a basketball player for the Southern California talent.

He attended three high schools -- Artesia High in Los Angeles, Oak Hill Academy in Virginia and Ribet Academy in Los Angeles. He verbally committed to USC as a sophomore in high school and later changed his mind. He attended Indiana for one season and then transferred to Nevada and then had to sit out a season watching Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson lead the Pack to the National Invitation Tournament.

Story, though, is now right where he wants to be, helping the Wolf Pack get back to the postseason tournament picture.

"His dedication (this off-season) was great to see," said point guard Deonte Burton, another Pack player from Southern California. "He worked so hard this off-season to become a better player. You can really see the bounce in his step now. He runs the floor now. He's going to be a more complete player for us."

Carter can't wait to use the new and improved 21-year-old Story this season.

"He's added four inches to his vertical jump," Carter said. "His athleticism is much improved. You'll see him attack the basket and get to the free throw line more."

Story vows to use the whole court as his creative canvas this year.

"I'm going to play inside the three-point line a lot more this year," Story said. "I'm going to attack the basket. That will make me a more consistent scorer. When my shot isn't falling I can just go to the basket and get easy shots or get to the free throw line.

"I feel great and I'm real excited. I can't wait."


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