Hoops Freshmen Roundtable - Part I

With the 2001-02 Stanford men's basketball season behind us, there is a lot to reflect upon for the team and program. But in particular, the heralded freshman class of Josh Childress, Rob Little and Chris Hernandez are taking stock of their first season on the Farm. I had the chance to sit down with all three to discuss a range of issues recently. The first part of the interview looks at their expectations and how they feel they performed this year.

The Bootleg: There is a perception, inside and outside of the Stanford basketball family, that you three are a special class - special bonds and special talents.  Is that something you guys have a sense of at all?
Rob Little: Yeah, I thought it was weird because we were all the first picks at our positions to come here.  Josh was the leading candidate for the wing; I was the leading candidate for power forward/center; and Chris was the top point guard.  In that sense, we all came here on the same recruiting trip, and we all really got along - hit it off.  I thought that was really important.  That and the fact that Chris had already signed, I signed a week later and I think Josh signed two or three weeks later.  That showed our dedication and commitment to play here at Stanford.  The fact that we all play different positions meant that we weren't competing for a single spot, and that we'll be on the court together a lot the next few years.  I didn't see these guys play in high school, but they had sort of a relationship before - both being from California.  But I understand the rich basketball tradition that they have out here on the West Coast.  I think it's going to be real special these next few years, seeing how it all unfolds.
Chris Hernandez: Yeah, I understand what you're thinking.  I heard a lot of hype with all three of us coming in.  As Rob was saying, we were all number one at our positions, so everybody had a lot of high expectations for us and expected us to do a lot.  As the season went along, I think all of us did our part to help the team.  I think other people were probably expecting us to do more - all of us individually.  So what Josh, Rob and I have to do is come out this spring and summer and elevate our game a lot.  So we can prove that the hype we came in with wasn't hype - it was for real.

The Bootleg: Were the expectations too high?  Were they fair or unfair - of what you heard when you came in here?
Josh Childress: Me personally, I probably had the highest expectations of myself out of anyone.  I wanted to succeed and play as well as I'm capable of, and I'm sure Rob and Chris felt the same way.  But the expectations of the outsiders or fans are never going to be higher than the expectations of yourself.  You may meet the observers' expectations, but everybody is always striving to do better - get another basket or get another rebound per game.
Rob Little: Like Josh said, I don't think you're ever going to be able to please everyone.  You really have to expect a lot out of yourself.  With every recruiting class, there is always the hope or belief with the new guys - who's the x-factor or who's going to step up.  Who is going to be that Diaper Dandy, as Dick Vitale says.  I think that's important, but most important is what you expect out of yourself.  It's really about you and your game, and how much you put into it.  You can't expect more than that.

The Bootleg: Can you guys talk a little bit about individual goals you set for yourselves this year and what you met or weren't able to meet?
Josh Childress: For myself, I set high goals.  Being a McDonald's All-American, everybody is expecting a whole lot.  I wanted to come in and start, and fortunately I got a chance to do that.  Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to do that all season.  I wanted to come in, start and be a strong, solid contributor.  I didn't do that to the best of my abilities, as far as contributing.  I think that's something I need to work on for next year - my consistency.
Chris Hernandez: I didn't have as high of expectations as Josh, but I did have expectations from a lot people including myself to come in and start - to take over that position eventually.  Whether it was going to be by Pac-10 or middle of the Pac-10.  But I definitely wanted to come in and start.  I definitely had the opportunity, but I had a couple injuries that set me back.  After that, I just never got back into the groove until the end of the season.  By then, everyone else was contributing just as well, and there was no need to make a change. I just wanted to come in and play and contribute - hopefully help the team.
Rob Little: This is kind of a funny issue for me because I'm from Virginia, and every time I would read something on the internet, or your website especially, it would be about 'Chris & Josh,' 'Chris & Josh.'  Then there's also this big, fat person from Virginia. (roars of laughter from Josh and Chris)  It wasn't like that, but it was almost to the effect of just 'we have this 6-10 person coming in from Virginia.'  It was funny because I didn't really come with any expectations, since nobody really saw me play a bit.  I'm not saying I was an underachiever, but toward the beginning of the season, especially right before we got to the Pac-10, I think I surprised myself and a few other people.  Just the fact I could play.  I felt like I had to prove that I could play, since no one had seen me play - no one knew who I was, just geographically.  Toward the middle of the season, I think I had greater expectations of myself - maybe more than I could do.  Having two really good big men before me in the Collins twins, and then one really good big man today in Curtis, who obviously learned a lot from the Collins twins, but here I was averaging just four points and four rebounds.  I'm thinking maybe I should be doing more.  That kind of made me try to do stuff I couldn't do.  Then in the middle of the season, I started to see a lot, lot less playing time.  It really took a lot out of me, but toward the end I started going back to what I was doing at the beginning of the season.  You know, not expecting a lot out of myself.  Doing the little things like making a pass, or setting a screen for a guard coming off it.  I think maybe that not having such high expectations of myself, and instead just going out and playing basketball and not worrying about who's playing or what big men we've had in the past - that was the biggest thing for me.  This summer I have a lot of fundamentals and learning our intricate offense.  You know, it's a running joke whenever I get on the floor: 'make sure Rob is in the right spot' or 'make sure he doesn't make that bad pass.'  I think I have a lot of little things to work on this summer, including conditioning.

The Bootleg: Getting away from frustrations, what are some of the things you guys did well that you are most proud of - that you did best at times this season?
Josh Childress: Coming out of high school, I was always a scorer.  And you may not be able to see it as well as I felt it, but I felt like I became a better defender.  Also a better rebounder.  Coach Russell Turner was always on me for rebounding for some reason, and I think because of that - how he implanted in my head 'you have to get to the boards; you have to do this; you have to do that' - it helped me a lot.  So becoming a better rebounder and a slightly better defender.
Chris Hernandez: I think the highlight for me wa


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