Jay Hernandez is the head coach of the Greensboro Swarm of the G League and an assistant coach and director of player development for the Charlotte Hornets. He’s writing a diary on HoopsHype about this quite strange G League season.
We have just finished a back-to-back and are just past the halfway point of the season. What has stood out so far is how fast-paced the games are, how skilled the players are and how well all of the coaches have implemented their systems in such a short period of time. Playing every other day with back-to-backs mixed in is a challenge. Our staff is teaching a lot through games. Before I go any further let me take you back to the beginning of training camp and get you caught up.
Training Camp Day 1
Everyone is excited and the energy is at an all-time high. We all finally get a chance to do what we love. My message is clear as I state, “Emotions don’t last but the work does.”
When you love what you do, then the work takes priority over how you feel from one day to the next. I want my teams to always be about being consistent with their approach regardless of role, playing time, wins, or losses. All of the mental reps we had via Zooms would now be applied on the court.
Since we had 11 days in quarantine, we relied on our Sports Science team with the Hornets to put together a schedule that would enable the players to build up to our first game and sustain 15 games in 25 days without injury. I have to hold the players back on this first day from playing competitively but it’s the right thing to do.
Training camp went really well. We even had a chance to scrimmage a well-coached and prepared Lakeland Magic team. We played four, 10-minute quarters and had a chance to go through our pregame routine. I am thankful to Anthony Parker, Adetunji Adedipe and Stan Heath for agreeing to it last minute.
We were originally scheduled to scrimmage the Mad Ants but had to cancel 30 minutes before because we had a false positive that needed to be confirmed. We lost a day and had to go back to our rooms and wait. In the times we are living through, health and safety are the priority so it’s especially important to be able to adapt and overcome.
Our team is young and has been battling. Jalen McDaniels played really well for us and after two games went back to Charlotte.
The Hornets just won a big game in Phoenix and I am happy to say that Jalen was in the rotation. You love to see players with his talent and skill embrace playing in meaningful games in the G and translate it to the NBA.
It took us three games to get the first win and the team presented me with a signed game ball. It meant a lot for them to think of me and I was just so happy for the players to come back after a good practice and execute the game plan that coaches Norman Richardson and Evan Harville put together.
The postgame message was this: “Today’s meal doesn’t satisfy tomorrow’s hunger.”
The talks I’ve had with the Hornets staff, coach James Borrego and management have allowed me to continue to be decisive and confident in the messaging that I have been providing the team. Mitch Kupchak and Larry Jordan came and got to see four games. Their presence in the gym was a great sign of support and commitment to the development we have invested in with the Hornets.
On top of having one of the best bigs in Vernon Carey, we were able to add another in Nick Richards who finally got to play his first game last Sunday. He entered the bubble and left after one day to rejoin the Hornets so having him back adds frontcourt depth that has really helped elevate our team.
If you haven’t had the chance to catch a game then it is time that you check one out. You won’t be disappointed with the competitiveness, the tactics or young talent that will be producing for NBA teams for years to come.
I will follow up at the end of the Bubble to give my final thoughts.