Hello everyone, and welcome to this month's edition of the new offseason series here on AllSports, "What's
Good?" During his two year tenure in Slamball he's been known as a fiery, 'in your face' coach that has his teams performing
at the highest level. His wired halftime speeches even became controversial at one point, but make no mistake about it, his
style has made him one of the premiere head coaches in this young sport. Struggling with key injuries all last season, his
team's quest for a title ended very quickly. This month, we sat down with Bouncers Head Coach Hernando Planells and got his
thoughts on this past season, plus his experience of recently being a part of the new motion picture "Coach Carter."
Cross: For those that don't know out there, can you enlighten us all on the role you played in the
movie "Coach Carter?"
Planells: Former Diablo’s Coach Mark Ellis and his business partner Rob Miller of ReelSports,
hired me as the “Basketball Coach” for “Coach Carter”. Coach Ellis, myself and the Reelsports
staff evaluated and chose the athletes who would participate in the movie (including Nana Gbewonyo who played Junior Battle).
From there my responsibilities were to draw up the playbook and choreograph the basketball action that was featured in the
Cross: What kind of experience did you get out of working with all of those people on this movie?
Planells: The experience was simply amazing. I was able to work with some of the top people in the
entertainment industry from Samuel L. Jackson to the Director Thomas Carter. I learned a lot about how movies were made and
the tremendous planning that surrounds such a production. Working with Coach Ellis everyday was an experience like no other.
This is a man who has worked on some of the best sports movies of all time and here I was learning from him every day.
Cross: Many people, including Larry King have stated that "Friday Night Lights" was the 'best
sports movie of all time.' Do you feel "Coach Carter" topped "Friday Night Lights" for those honors?
Planells: Both movies were tremendously inspirational. Since I worked on “Coach Carter”
I am a little bit partial. From a basketball standpoint, I think “Coach Carter” was a good basketball movie.
There haven’t been that many great basketball movie besides “Hoosiers” so I think that this one has
a chance to be considered a pretty good one after everything is said and done.
Cross: When you look at yourself as a coach, do you compare your coaching style more towards a discplined
"in your face" type coach in a Bill Parcells or say a Larry Brown? Or do you feel you're actually kind of a laid back type
of coach, like a Byron Scott or Gregg Williams?
Planells: I'd like to say Parcells or Brown. Both coaches have had tremendous success and are good
role models to follow. I just hope that I can emulate their success. I put a lot of pressure on myself and our players to
perform at a high level night in and night out.
Cross: We've all heard plenty of your halftime and timeout rants throughout the past two seasons, and
we know at one point you've apologized to some parents at a basketball camp for saying the things that you did on national
TV. During these two seasons that you've been the Bouncers head coach has there ever been any player that's "fallen out" on
Planells: I have never had a player fall out on me or the team. I am tough on the guys but I believe
that they know how much I care about them and about the Bouncers. I have ridden players pretty hard, during year 1, I was
tough on Gerrie Herring and Carlos Ardines. I believe for us to be successful our bench has to be as mentally tough and prepared
as our regulars. For season 2, they were drafted by the Bandits and both of them played significant roles for Coach Berrokoff.
I hope that practicing against Bailey, Young, Maiden and Wilson everyday along with me being “tough” on them had
something to do with their success.
At the end of the day, WE are all playing for the same goal… and that’s to win a championship.
I’m not here to baby players, sooth egos or worry about who I am disrespecting… I am here to help the team win
a championship. It takes sacrifice, passion and hard work to get to that level and I believe (barring injuries) we are getting
close to that level. “Focus, Discipline and Accountability leads to Ascension”
Cross: The following season your team was only one slam away from going to the Finals. How disappointing
was it for you this past season to see the team struggle like this and to see your star players getting injured?
Planells: It was tough watching the players go down with these types of injuries. From Chris Young
barely being able to practice to Rob Wilson’s and James Lee’s knee, Jeff Kreiling’s Shoulder, and Jenero
Hempihill’s ankle. On top of that Rodney Bond had badly dislocated his hand in the first half against the Bandits, which
left us without a stopper.
The tragedy of all this was that the fans couldn’t witness the explosiveness of James Lee, he was on
the verge of having a great rookie year. Kreiling was an unbelieveable enforcer that no one saw, he smacked one player through
a door and made several game changing hits for us. Hemphill was very versatile on the tramps and on the open floor and would
of given us another dimension for us to play with. Injuries are a part of sports, I hope that next season we will be healthy
and contend for a championship.
Cross: What's the health status of James Lee and Chris Young for the upcoming season?
Planells: They are doing well and are waiting anxiously for the season to get underway.
Cross: What were your reactions to hearing Rob Wilson state his retirement from Slamball after last
season concluded? Did he let you know ahead of time what his future was?
Planells: We talked about it and I supported him 100% in whatever decision he made. He was invaluable
to the team and myself and I hope he can come back and assist us in any way to win a championship.
Cross: With Wilson gone from the team now, is your main focus now on picking up a stopper who can come
off the bench and give you quality minutes while resting Rodney Bond?
Planells: I think that stopper is a hole we need to fill as is gunner and handler. When tryouts begin
we will reevaluate our needs based on the talent that is on hand. Of course draft position and how deep the draft pool is
will play a huge role on who we take.
Cross: Can you give us a quick evaluation on your star gunner, Dion Bailey? Even when the team was
struggling all throughout last year, the man gave it his all out there every night. He was your Mr. Double-Double man whether
it was with scoring, rebounding or making open floor hits.
Planells: Dion Bailey is an amazing athlete who plays hard every second. The way he improved his overall
game is exactly what we expected. He has all the skills and intangibles to be one of the best players on the court. He can
shoot and drive to the basket effectively and has a knack of getting loose balls. He is a player that can play gunner and
handler, although gunner is where I would like to see him more often.
Cross: How dangerous do you think this team can be next season with everyone healthy?
Planells: Just like any team, if we were completely healthy we have a chance of making it all the way.
In sports you need a couple of breaks and good luck to make it to the top. I think we have the pieces to make a good run.
The combination of our returners and draft picks should help us get closer and closer to our goal.