What's Up, Chuck?
Q&A with the Rockets' defensive master Chuck Hayes
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HOUSTON - With the start of Rockets training camp less than a month away, the Toyota Center practice court is the place to be as players start ramping up the intensity level in an effort to make sure their games are good to go. You see a sharper focus during the various training drills players perform and the competition taking place during the daily scrimmages is certainly heating up as well.
So with the guys getting ready for the 2010-11 season, it's time for us to do our part as well. And what better way to do so than to catch up with the various members of the team to find out what they've been up to this summer? Today Rockets.com sat down with defensive ace and fan favorite Chuck Hayes.
JCF: So what have you been up to this summer?
CH: The best thing I did was I took my son on a father-son trip to Disneyland. We went to Disneyland and he wore me out.
Outside of that I worked out, which is whats expected and required, went home to California to be with family and thats about it.
JCF: What was your sons favorite ride?
CH: The Nemo ride. He made me go on it twice. Then there was a Roger Rabbit ride he liked and an airplane one, too. But the submarine Nemo ride was just a jaw-dropping ride to him.
JCF: Well you mentioned how working out has been a big part of your summer and its obvious just by looking at you thats been the case. Even back in mid-July during summer league in Vegas, everyone was commenting on how great you looked and that certainly rings even truer today.
CH: People ask me what I did and I tell them: I just did something everyday; from tennis, to racquetball and I even did a little bit of golf. I just made sure I did something agility-wise every day. I was just trying to find the kid in me; like today were going over to Minute Maid Park to take batting practice and have some fun.
I also changed my diet a little bit but really the only thing I changed was I stopped eating so late because when you eat so late it just sits on you until the next day. It slows you down, especially when you have to get up early. As a kid, man, in high school I could eat a Double Whopper and still go out and get 30. But now if I eat that Im not even good for 30 seconds.
JCF: I know youve been working out with Yao Ming some and one of the things he said last week is that he now has to respect your shot on the offensive end. Does this mean were going to see a somewhat different side of Chuck Hayes this season?
CH: He said he has to defend my shot but it's not like Im going out too far (laughs). Im just trying to use my quickness and shoot the occasional jump shot in the paint thats a high percentage shot. I just have to get it over the trees and Yao is the tallest tree in the league. So not only am I helping him out, but hes helping me out as far as finishing and shooting over tall defenders.
JCF: Well, offensive efficiency aside, we all know defense is your bread and butter. What is your defensive philosophy, both from an individual and a team standpoint?
CH: Well individually I have to kind of be like a free safety or a quarterback. Its my job to talk to the team on the defensive end. I have to run my mouth and make sure everybody is in the right spot while also controlling my man, too, because more than likely Im going to be guarding the key offensive post threat.
As a team, we have to hold each other accountable. We have to commit ourselves and really want to do it. With Yao back, its great to have him, but it starts with your man first you cant always just depend upon the big guy because he may be late or he cant afford to be in foul trouble. So as a team we have to hold each other accountable and have to want to make stops.
JCF: I suspect most basketball people wouldnt point to guys like you and Shane Battier and say, Thats the prototype for what an NBA shut-down defender should look like. And yet youre two of the best this league has to offer in terms of defensive impact. So Im curious what do you think is more important on the defensive end: physical ability or the mental aspect of team defensive principles?
CH: Its all mental. Physical is great, dont get me wrong. I mean me and Shane are going to be out-jumped by every guy we go against. But knowing the game, doing your homework, reading the scouting report, watching tape, knowing opposing personnel and their preferences you do all that and I guarantee youll have an advantage mentally of knowing what your guy will do and how you can contain him. Its good to have physical attributes as far as being able to run and jump and having foot speed, but for Shane and myself the mental side is so important which is why we always do our homework days before the game.
JCF: So lets talk about what you think this roster can accomplish defensively as a team. There was some slippage last year for obvious reasons and its been a point of emphasis all offseason talking about how important it is for you guys to get back to being a top-10 defensive team. What do you think this club is capable of on that end of the floor?
CH: I think we can be a top-5 defensive team easily.
JCF: What makes you say that?
CH: Its all about the guys we have here and how hard we play. Weve got guys who can defend and with Yao down there, hes kind of like a safety net. Sometimes we use him as a crutch and we obviously cant do that and Im surely early on well have nights when were good and others when we wont be. But I think we can put it together. Brad Miller is an unselfish player. Patrick Patterson is a real humble and willing-to-listen rookie he doesnt have an ego. Then you throw in Yao who is probably the most unselfish superstar out there. I think the pieces are all there. We dont have any egos in this locker room. Nobody thinks theyre better than anyone else. And thats a big key to playing good team defense.
JCF: What did you think about what went down in Miami this summer?
CH: (laughs) Hey, I guess I was shocked as much as everyone else. I didnt think LeBron would go that route, but he did and he has his reasons so I just wish him the best of luck.
JCF: Some Hall of Famers like Jordan, Bird and Magic mentioned that they never would have gone that route because they wanted to beat each other far more than teaming up to take on the rest of the league. Judging from your reaction I get the feeling youre of a similar mindset.
CH: I mean, I can see both sides. Im more in favor of the older guys but I can relate to LeBron, too. I mean its hard to win in this league. He tried it on his own and now hes teaming up with two All-Stars. Thats unheard of but, again, it just opens up the eyes of everyone else in the league and, hey, if he needs another All-Star or bona fide superstar in order to win one, then go team up. But with my competitive nature Im more in favor of what Jordan and Johnson said.
JCF: Do you feel like Miami is the clear favorite right now?
CH: No. I still say the Lakers but even out of the East I still think Boston has to be the favorite because theyre proven.
JCF: Last question and Ill admit ahead of time that this is completely random: What is the characteristic that you admire most in others?
CH: Laughter. I just think laughing is healthy all the smiling and having a good time. Enjoy the moment. Ill do whatever has to be done to get a good laugh. Who doesnt like to laugh?
JCF: It makes the world a better place.
CH: Man, everybody and everything would be greater if we just laughed more.Tweet