Hornets.com 1-on-1: Assistant coach Fred Vinson

By: Brian Travis, Hornets.com

With a quarter of the 2012-13 New Orleans Hornets season in the books, point guards Greivis Vasquez and Brian Roberts have been two of the most dynamic contributors in the team’s lineup. Vasquez is leading the Hornets and sixth in the NBA averaging 8.2 assists per game, to go along with his 11.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Meanwhile, Roberts has given the Hornets solid bench production in his rookie campaign. He has provided double-digit scoring of the bench seven times and is contributing 8.1 points and 2.7 assists per game. Roberts is also ranked the fifth-most efficient NBA rookie in ESPN.com writer John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER).

Hornets assistant coach Fred Vinson, now in his third season with New Orleans, is well traveled and has diverse and deep basketball experience. After playing collegiately at Georgia Tech, Vinson had two stints in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and Seattle SuperSonics. He also played internationally in France, Israel, Poland and Venezuela.

Media members and fans alike can observe Vinson constantly working with Hornets guards, including Vasquez and Roberts. Whether it’s getting on the practice floor with the two, putting up extra shots after practice, watching and analyzing game film or providing some last-minute insight on pick-and-roll sets in the arena pregame, Vinson’s tutelage is ever-present for the point guard tandem.

Hornets.com caught up with Vinson this week to discuss the Hornets’ point guards:

Hornets.com: How has your playing experience in college, your stints in the NBA, and your experience abroad influenced how you work with Greivis Vasquez and Brian Roberts?
Vinson: In regards to Greivis, I played in his country before (Venezuela) and that gave me an opportunity to understand the culture and that gives me the opportunity to understand Greivis and what drives him and where he comes from. I think having had an opportunity to play in the NBA I understand the pressures that he’s under trying to lead a team. I can relate to a lot of the situations on the floor that I can guide him in. I can relate to Brian because I know how different the game is abroad than it is in the NBA. So in terms of making the adjustment from the European style to our league, I have the experience to help him evaluate situations and strategies and make that jump.

Hornets.com: What do you think has been Greivis' biggest strength running the point this year?
Vinson: I think his biggest strength is making plays and passing the ball. His vision, particularly in pick-and-roll. The NBA is obviously a heavy pick-and-roll league and we are a strong pick-and-roll team. His ability to make decisions and make plays out of the pick-and-roll has been the best for us.

Hornets.com: What do you think has been Brian's biggest strength coming in as reserve?
Vinson: His greatest strength has been his shooting. Shooting has always been a premium in the NBA; guys that can make shots. He does a great job using his quickness to free himself or his teammates. He’s gotten a lot better at pick-and-roll and making his reads as well – he’s gotten much, much better at that. But his shooting is his biggest strength.

Hornets.com: What do you think is the biggest difference in their respective roles with Greivis being the starting PG and Brian being asked to provide support coming off the bench?
Vinson: With Greivis my approach is always starting the game out looking for his teammates and trying to get them comfortable on the floor and get them easy shots. We watch pregame film to see what the defenses are doing and how his approach should be. Perhaps who would be open in certain situations and things like that. If we run in to a lull or a team falls asleep, then go ahead and look to attack and score. But mostly with him I talk about distributing first, and when teams adjust, then score. With Brian I tell him to go in there and make plays. With him and with our second unit, scoring is the most important thing for us. He’s gotten better at creating for his teammates but his ability to score can give us a big lift off the bench.

Hornets.com: If you could identify one area where you would like to see each guard improve and develop over the course of this season what would it be?
Vinson: I think for Greivis it’s going to be his consistency of play, his total effort going from offense to defense. Also, getting better at understanding how to get into his man defensively. The point guards in our league are very quick and in a lot of instances they’re quicker than Greivis because he is a big guard. I talk to him about playing the angles. I’m looking for him to get better defensively on the ball. I would love to see Brian be even more aggressive. He’s getting better and better at making his reads, but I’d love to see him get even more aggressive to score the ball because that’s the aspect he can make an impact in for us coming off the bench.