JJ Hones Q&A

Tonight's exhibition affair does not count toward the Cardinal's crusade for Cleveland, but it will mark the debut of Stanford's vaunted freshman class. Point guard JJ Hones had a setback in her preseason with a foot injury but is ready to race into her first Cardinal campaign. She talked with The Bootleg this week about her injury, preseason, progress and expectations.

Can you get us up to speed on the details of your stress reaction injury - when it came about and when you put the brakes on playing?

"It happened around the end of September.  My foot was hurting after a game of pick-up practice, so I sat out and talked to the trainer.  They didn't really know what it was, so they scheduled me for an X-ray.  The X-ray didn't show anything, so then it was an MRI.  The MRI showed a stress reaction, which is right before a stress fracture.  Then I was in a boot for a week or two.  They adjusted my insole, and right now it's feeling fine."

How frustrating was that?  You were finally just starting to do things officially at Stanford with the coaches and your new teammates.  Then you have to put the brakes on.

"It was really frustrating, especially because I felt really in-shape.  Now I'm very out-of-shape [laughs], and that's very frustrating.  In a way, I guess it was a good thing.  I was able to watch and pick up on things.  Obviously playing is good.  Watching is... watching [laughs].  But at least I was able to watch."

I had heard from Tara VanDerveer that you were playing well before the injury.  Is that also part of the frustration?

"I just think that I was playing hard.  If that's playing well, then that's playing well.  It was frustrating, but I'm back.  It's okay."

When did you start doing things again on the court?

"I think last week.  I don't really remember.  Last week or the week before?  It was gradual.  I did a little bit of half-court, and then I started working to full-court.  Now I do it all - just not the running drills.  If my team loses and I have to run, I go to the side to do push-ups instead of the running.  I do everything else full-court."

How well are you doing in terms of catching up what you missed, with new things introduced and installed for the offense those weeks that you were out?

"I was still able to run through the offense and still able to talk with the coaches and with other players.  They were really helpful in getting me back and knowing all of the plays.  I don't really feel like I was having to catch up.  I was watching it and had time to think about it.  Now I can't really think - just have to go."

What is the big adjustment, injury aside, for Stanford Basketball and college basketball?  Anything the coaches have hit you with that made you take a step back?

"Not necessarily because I was expecting a lot.  I was expecting to be pushed harder and to have to work harder.  I guess I was expecting a lot of it, so none of it was really out of context to what I thought was going to be happening."

Anything you have had to adjust, with what the coaches are asking you to do?

"I just need to work on my defense.  Not necessarily rotations, but on-ball defense.  That's what I guess really took a blow when I was out."

What do you feel that you are doing well and you are contributing right now to the team in practices?

"I feel like I have been shooting well, but everybody has been shooting really well.  I'm just trying to take care of the things I can control myself - working hard, thinking and making smart passes.  I'm trying to contribute as much as I think I can just by working hard.  I'm not going to go out there and take every single shot that I see or I don't see and try to prove myself.  I'm going to try and be smart about everything.  In that way, I am helping the team."

What do you think of the competitive level of these practices?  I know you came from a loaded high school program.  Is this just more of the same for you, or is there a little bit of 'wow' with these Stanford practices?

"In a way, I was kind of used to it.  But this is definitely way more intense.  I was used to the competition, but this level is so intense, considering that I'm playing against such great players - such great defenders and such great offensive players.  My whole game has to step up, along with the game of everyone else on the team.  I think it has been helpful for everybody, but I can't necessarily accurately comment on it because I don't know what it was like last year."

These guard match-ups - what do you think has been really challenging or really fun with the Stanford guards you are battling every day in practice?

"They are way more athletic than any of the guards I have ever had to face before.  With Candice, Cissy, Mel and Markisha, they are so athletic.  And then Clare is so strong.  Everything is definitely a couple more notches up from what it was in high school.  It's the same, but way more intense."

Several of those players are so quick, and they have the benefit of years of college conditioning and strength training.  How is that for you offensively, when you maybe have been used to going by your defender, as well as defensively trying to contain those types of players?

"Offensively, I'm just looking to run the offense and just make harder, stronger passes.  In high school, I felt you I could get away with: 'Oh, that was king of a bad pass, but the person is not going to steal it.'  If I make a bad pass now, it's a turnover and lay-up on the other end.  I have to be way smarter about that.  With defense, when I was told to pressure in high school, that meant getting right up in a girl's face.  Here, if I get right up into Markisha, she is going to be by me for a lay-up.  I have to understand what pressuring means for which player."

What do you now understand what it means to run the Stanford offense, that you couldn't understand before you got into these practices?

"I felt like Southridge was very structured.  When I came here, it was very similar to a lot of things I did before.  It's learning all of the new plays because none of them are the same as it was.  That's not necessarily been difficult, but you really have to be thinking about what you're doing.  If you don't know plays, you're a liability on the court.  The whole thing is to learn the plays and do them all at a fast speed."

How far along are you in terms of feeling like you can run all of these plays at the speed you want to do and Stanford needs you to do?

"I feel like I am able to.  We have had tests of where you are supposed to be on what plays for what person, and being back running them, I feel up to speed.  You have to ask the coaches if I really am or not [laughs]."

You guys are about to tip off the preseason.  Is that pretty exciting for you, or does it feel like it is coming a bit too soon considering the chunk of practices you missed?

"It seems soon considering that high school basketball would just be starting right now.  I have friends who are saying, 'Yeah, we start high school next week.'  I have my first game in two days!  But the sooner the games come, the better.  Obviously everybody practices for games.  As much as it has sucked to not be playing, I don't feel like I have necessarily missed a whole bunch that I'm behind and being a liability on the court."

What do you expect that your role can be right out of the gate for this team, recognizing what you bring to this team but also your conditioning and time you missed?

"As long as I can knock down shots and run the offense, that's all that a point guard needs to do right now, considering all of the great shooters we have on the court and we have great posts.  Being able to drive and create would be another weapon to add to that.  But I feel that right now as long as I can knock down a shot from somebody double-teaming a post, or as long as I can set up Candice, Cissy or Clare for an open three-pointer, I feel that is what a point guard on our team really needs to be doing right now."

What is it like playing alongside Candice Wiggins?

"It's very definitely exciting.  She is such an intense player, and she works so hard.  She is a great mentor to watch, and she really leads by example.  Watching her go really hard makes me want to go hard."

What is your own expectation for what it will be like on that first night, when you take the floor Thursday in front of a home crowd at Maples in a Stanford uniform?

"I have absolutely no clue.  I know it's going to be exciting.  Sometimes I just stand here and think, 'Wow, I'm really here.'  I'm just very excited about it.  I'll probably be nervous when I get into the game, but hopefully the nervousness won't show up in my play."

What helps you get through butterflies?  Knocking down an open shot?

"Knocking down an open shot definitely would, or at least making the first pass and not turning it over.  [laughs]  Not turning it over in general and not feeling overwhelmed because I've been practicing with these girls and I know these girls.  'Oh, I'm just playing with these girls again.'  But I know that it's going to be different, and I'm hoping that I can pretend like it's practice, just a little more intense."

Also on Thursday night, the Southridge Skyhawks take on the Jesuit Crusaders on a nationally televised football game.  You will be playing at Maples at that moment.  Your predictions for the game?

"Umm...  I have to go with Southridge winning.  If I were there and watching, I could make a score prediction.  But I will definitely TiVo that!"

Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!

The Bootleg Top Stories