I made it a high priority to watch as much of Chris Hernandez and the Pump & Run team in Vegas as I could, and that also gave me the chance to talk with Chris after his late Sunday game...
What made you so sure that you wanted to commit to Stanford so
early, so quickly?
Chris Hernandez: The coaching staff - it's a great coaching staff. It's a great school, education-wise. Now it's also a great school, basketball-wise - top 5 every year now. I visited the campus and saw a couple of practices and liked what I saw a lot. I just knew that was where I wanted to go.
From your observations of the team on TV and from your
conversations with the coaching staff, what is your perception of
Stanford's playing style?
Chris Hernandez: Bring the ball down the court, look for shooters, and pound the ball inside. Kill people inside, but also kick the ball out for the three. I've seen them run with the ball on the break, too. I like what they do.
The Bootleg: How
do you fit into that plan in 2001?
Chris Hernandez: I can bring the ball up and get those passes up quickly. I also can play hard defense. Basically, helping get them to the Final Four.
I've seen you run the break pretty well here in the tournament.
Can you talk a bit about your abilities in that area?
Chris Hernandez: I do try to push the ball up, but then draw defenders. That allows me to either dump it to a big man or dish it out to a wing.
The Bootleg: How
about your finishing? When you take it to the hole, what do you
like to do?
Chris Hernandez: Usually, when I take it to the hole, I like to make a pass. But a lot of people know that about me, so they stay off me and try to make me score. Early on tonight, I saw that and scored several times early. But I like to pass. I like to drive and dish and then run back. Reward the big guys.
When you were bringing the ball up today, teams were pressing you
a lot. You seemed to handle it well. Can you talk about that?
Chris Hernandez: Yeah, teams like to pressure here and see how the other point guard can handle the ball. I like to either push it through the press, or draw the foul. I make them realize that I can handle the ball; then they have to back off me and maybe even fall into a zone.
What type of point guard would you say you have the most problems
Chris Hernandez: Quick points. Really small, get low to the ground, quick points. They are probably the ones I'll have to go out and guard full-court. Those are the toughest ones, when they're so quick.
Playing with the Pumps, you have had a lot of time to play with
the Craven twins. Of course, they are committed to USC. How do
you see yourself matching up with them down the road in Pac-10
Chris Hernandez: Wow. It's going to be tough playing against Errick and Derrick. You saw, man. They're quick and just great players. I'll think we'll have a great time playing against each other.
The Bootleg: How
about Salim (Stoudamire), who is committed to Arizona. What type
of player is he and how will you try and stop him as a defending
Chris Hernandez: He is really smooth - just a smooth shooter. He can stroke the three, and he can also penetrate and finish. When I guard him, basically we'll try and keep him from shooting. Hopefully try to contain him and make him give it up.
You're now committed, but Stanford still has a couple of
scholarships in your class. One of those target big men is your
Pump teammate, Chris Jackson. Are you talking to him, trying to
recruit him to come along with you?
Chris Hernandez: Oh yeah. I'm trying to help him out - tell him to come to Stanford. I'm trying to help talk him into Stanford.
The Bootleg: In
playing on these national tournaments, you see a lot of the top
shoot guards and wings. Who would you like to see come at that
position with you to Stanford?
Chris Hernandez: (big grin) Wow. I don't know. I couldn't tell you. There is a lot of talent out there, and I don't know who they want. It doesn't really matter to me. I'll trust their judgement in whoever they bring in.
The Bootleg: Do
you talk to any of these guys at these tournaments -nudge with
the shoulder and tell them to come to Stanford?
Chris Hernandez: I've whispered to a couple of them, telling them about Stanford.
Your teammate Charlie Rodriguez, a year behind you, is looking at
Stanford. How much do you talk to him about that, about having
him come in right behind you?
Chris Hernandez: Yeah. That would be great. I love Charlie. Charlie and I play on the same high school team, room together all the time. It would be great to have him come to Stanford.
What is it that you hope to do in your first year at Stanford?
What goals do you have?
Chris Hernandez: Wow. Just to be a good, positive contribution to the team. I want to do everything I can to help the team win.
The Bootleg: Do
you know what you want to study yet?
Chris Hernandez: Maybe something in sports medicine, but I'm not sure yet.
The Bootleg: Now
that you have your recruiting out of the way, you still have your
senior season at Clovis West in front of you. What goals do you
have for yourself in your senior season?
Chris Hernandez: I have only one goal, and that's to make it back to the state championship and win it.
The Bootleg: Who
will be the tough team to beat next year?
Chris Hernandez: There's always De La Salle, who is tough to beat, and Jesuit - good teams up North. But I think the toughest thing is getting through the South, getting through the LA schools, and getting through our league and the Valley to get there.
What are you going to try to focus and work on with your game
this year before you come to Stanford?
Chris Hernandez: I need to work on my shooting a lot. I need to be able to hit the open shot when I get it. And ball handling, being able to get low and do different things with it.
What was your 3-point percentage this last year?
Chris Hernandez: I shot about 39%, which was an improvement over the year before, so I was happy.
The Bootleg: How
about your free throw percentage?
Chris Hernandez: I think about 86.
The Bootleg: Are
you going to try and score more your senior year, or keep on
Chris Hernandez: With my high school team, my role is to do a lot of everything - score and distribute the ball. I'll do a lot of scoring with my high school team, more than out here. Out here, we have a bunch of scorers, so I'm here to give them the ball.
The Bootleg: For
all the Stanford fans meeting you for the first time through the
Internet, is there anything you would like to say to them?
Chris Hernandez: I'm just glad to be at Stanford. Hopefully I can just come out and give everyone a good time.