UConn men's basketball team's strength coach has inside information on Purdue: 'Things I know'

Roberts is in his third season as director of sports performance for men's basketball, responsible for all in-season and off-season aspects concerning strength, conditioning, nutrition and wellness training for the team.

That means he worked with Zach Edey, Mason Gillis, Ethan Morton and other members of the Boilermakers who'll try to win the program's first national title on Monday at State Farm Stadium, while also preventing the Huskies from a repeat.

"That's a lifelong brother," said Gillis, a senior forward who averages 6.7 points per game. "We built a relationship. He was a Purdue person at one time, and if you're a Purdue person, we treat everybody the same.

We don't think about whether he left or he stayed. Now he's the enemy, but that's OK. You keep your friends close, you're enemies closer. But we love him, he's a great guy."

"Coach (Matt) Painter has been phenomenal with Purdue in general, and for my career," Roberts said in the Huskies' celebratory locker room on Saturday night, following their Final Four win over Alabama. "I'm always grateful and really, really happy for them."

"He did great things for us outside the basketball court, from a mental aspect of of how to think, how to go about things, how to be a professional," Gillis recalled. "That's why he's in the position he's in today."

Certainly, strength and conditioning and training staff are hardly the stars of the show. They toil in the background, keeping the players strong, fit and, most importantly, healthy.

Sure, there have been some injuries, some missed games the past two years by Donovan Clingan, Stephon Castle, Samson Johnson.

But by and large, the Huskies have remained remarkably healthy — particularly come March, when UConn has pretty much been at full strength each of the past two seasons.

Yes, Gavin Roberts, who grew up a UConn fan in Somerset, N.J. and nearly committed to the Huskies to play football before opting for Purdue instead, deserves plenty of credit for the Huskies' success.