Hoops Freshmen Roundtable - Part II

In the second edition of this sitdown with Rob, Chris and Josh, we learn about what they individually and collectively want to improve about their games and this team. That carries then into their off-season plans and workouts. Read on for a look at what transpires between March and October.

The Bootleg:  If you critically evaluate where you are as an individual player, what are the areas where you want to concentrate this summer and make yourself better, to reach your expectations and to become a bigger contributor to Stanford basketball?
Rob Little: I think the biggest thing that overrides all else is the closeness and togetherness of this team.  I don't care how many shots you can make or how fast you can get down the court, if you can't get along with the other four players on the court, you won't get anything done.  I think it's really important for a lot of the players on this team this summer to stay.  I think that needs to be on the checklist - staying for summer school.  Or if not full summer school, at least being at Stanford for 4 or 5 weeks just to be around the team and not be too alienated at home over the summer, playing in the neighborhood.  For me personally, my physical fitness is always important.  I mean, I don't have the highest metabolism on the team.  If I'm not in the gym every day and lifting weights, I'm going to get out of shape.  So physical fitness and working on fundamentals with Rev, who has coached at the Pete Newell Big Man Camp over the past 6 years.  It's safe to say he knows a little bit about post moves and fundamentals for bigs.  Fundamentals, fitness and I want to play a lot of games this summer.  Being able to apply what you've gained in the weight room and learned on the court to actual game situations is really important.
Chris Hernandez:  I definitely agree with Rob.  Just chemistry.  Everybody on the team this year - I mean, we all liked each other a lot - but I think a lot of people noticed when we were on the court, we didn't click together.  So I agree with Rob that spending more time with your team, building relationships and bonding - I think that's really huge.  A lot of teams aren't going to win unless you have that closeness.  Individually, I really need to work on everything.  But key stuff is ballhandling.  A lot of times this year, I was a little shaky with the ball.  I definitely need to develop my handles a lot more.  Developing my shot, my set shot.  That was the only time I really shot this year, the set three.  And developing more on the dribble, shooting off screens.  I didn't get a lot of those.  I need to develop my shot more, so I can contribute more in that way.  Also, conditioning-wise, I need to use my legs a lot more.  In high school, I worked on my arms a lot but didn't work on my legs at all.  And it's showing now.  I'm not as agile or as quick as everyone else.  So definitely my defense moving side-to-side needs to improve a lot.  And just my explosiveness - I'm not explosive right now and want to improve that a lot.  And like Rob said, a lot of games.  One of the things that was hard for me is that I was used to playing 70 games from May to July with my high school team and AAU team.  I was used to playing a lot.  But this past summer I couldn't play with Stanford or couldn't play with my high school team or AAU.  I was really just trying to pick up games wherever I could, and a lot of them would just be half-court or playing by myself.  It wasn't the same as playing full-court.  I thought that was a disadvantage to me.
Josh Childress:  I also agree with the team concept, and we need to become more of a cohesive team unit.  Everybody needs to be on the same page.  We're already starting to see that with the weightlifting regimen, with everybody trying to be there at the same time together.  That togetherness is what we need.  Individually, I have a lot of things to work on.  Probably the main things are overall strength and ballhandling.  I've never been a major weightlifter, as you can tell (Josh grins).  Strength coach John Murray is working with me to become quicker laterally and being more explosive.  A lot people say, 'Josh you need to gain weight - Josh you need to do this or that.'  I personally and John don't think so.  Just if I'm stronger and quicker and can jump quicker, then I don't need all that weight.  If you look at the superstar three-men in the NBA, none of them are really bulky.  Just look at Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter - they're not really buff.  Mentally, I think I need to work as well.  I need that mental toughness, that killer attitude.  That's something all of us need - that "you're not taking nothing from me" attitude.  I'm gonna go out there and whoop up on you, and then shake your hand afterward.  But while we're on the court, we're enemies.  I think we all lacked that this year.  Also I want to work on overall staying aggressive.  There were times on the court where I got passive, didn't look to shoot the ball or take it to the hole.  Also something that is not stressed enough in terms becoming a better scorer: changing speeds and using different speeds to get open.  In the Kansas game, we had a hard time getting the ball in to our wing - our wing entry or whatever.  That's because we came out with just one speed, maybe lackadaisical.  I think that's another thing I need - being able to explode off a screen.  So changing speeds, aggressiveness and overall quickness.

The Bootleg:  Since you all talked about chemistry and spending more time together, do I take it that you all have plans to stay at Stanford over the summer, for all or part of it?
Rob Little:  I've made my decision to be here at Stanford for the summer, with the acceptance for summer school.  If they grant summer school, I'll be there.
Chris Hernandez:  Same with me, if I get into summer school, I'll be here.
Josh Childress:  Me, too.  Yeah.  I did though think about trying to go down home over the weekends to play in the LA summer leagues.  Just because the competition down there is really fierce.  It would give me exposure to the NBA players, playing against better guys.

The Bootleg:  You guys talk about getting accepted or granted summer school.  Can you elaborate on that?
Rob Little:  There are like 800 athletes, and everybody is trying to get - I don't know how many spots there are.  We're told that everyone needs a reasonable explanation for why they want aid and a good reason, whether you're pre-med or an engineer or maybe an athlete who didn't have time you needed during the school year to complete courses toward graduation.  It's a time to literally knock out hard classes when you're not under the stress of the season and practice.  And other classes, too.  Instead of taking math and chemistry together, you can just take math and focus on math, or the chemistry.  It's also an opportunity to really connect with your professor and get a better grade.  But every athletic program from basketball to lacrosse has to apply for this.  It's an equal opportunity program.  They don't want 50 football players getting in but no lacrosse players and no water polo.  So we just have to wait for the athletic department to decide how they want to allocate the money.

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