Fernandez Brings Leadership To Hopewell
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 29, 2014, 08:59
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL — Isaiah Fernandez dribbles feverishly up the court to push the tempo after hauling in a rebound on the defensive end. He quickly surveys the opponent's defense in front him, processes what they are trying to do and how best to attack it.
The junior then dribbles to his left before using a crossover to fly past his defender seeing nothing but clear space in front of him. Two Prince George defenders immediately pull off their assignments and collapse on him in the paint. Fernandez never panics, sliding a bounce-pass to a cutting Daniel Saunders for an easy lay-in.
While other players make their biggest impact on the scoresheet by piling on the points, Fernandez focuses on getting teammates involved and being the quintessential floor-general for Hopewell's basketball team.
"He doesn't ask me about stats and thats a good thing," Hopewell head coach Robbie St. John said of his point guard. "All he cares about is if we get the win. And you don't see kids like that. We're programming kids to have to look out for their stats ... it's nice to have a point guard who's not into that."
No, Fernandez doesn't care about his stats. He's only cared about winning and giving him teammates good looks at the basket anyway he can.
For the 5-foot-11 point guard, basketball has always been his passion. Fernandez has been playing basketball ever since he could remember and treats everyday as another chance to improve on every area.
Hopewell's point guard continually works on his shot and places much of his focus on limiting turnovers during the course of the game. In fact, prior to each contest, his mind-set remains the same.
"I just try to focus on getting my teammates involved and make the best play I can," he said of his mindset. "Control the ball as a point guard and you can control the game. Make sure I don't turn the ball over, get those assists and help my team win."
And while the Blue Devils have not had the best on-court results — just a 7-9 record thus far — there have been a few games where one can see the talent Hopewell possesses and it all starts with Fernandez at the top of the key.
It's the Blue Devils' point guard who controls the pace of the game, knowing when to push the ball in transition and recognize quickly if he has enough numbers in attack or if it's best to pull it back out and run a half-court set. It's also Fernandez who helps bark out the play-calls, running them each with the poise of a veteran while executing at a high-level.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
In fact, it was in Hopewell's last game where Fernandez's impact was felt in every area.
Having lost five of their last six games, the Blue Devils needed a win against crosstown rival Prince George. And in the game, it was Fernandez who made sure Hopewell would leave with a win after scoring a season-high 14 points, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 7 rebounds in a 69-61 win.
"He will lock people down, he will distribute the ball and when things are right, he will pull the ball out and score," St. John said. "There's a lot to be said of a guy who's a true floor-general versus a guy who just bails you out."
However, while Fernandez's stats speak for themselves: a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio, 5.4 points per game and 5.6 assists, it would also discount the leadership he brings to the team.
During a basketball game, each team will make runs. It's how teams respond to their opponent's moment of power which decides the winner or loser and in these situations, Fernandez has shown the ability to calm teammates down.
It's the character trait he exhibits during every game as he tries to make the winning plays — steals, forcing opponent's into bad shots and making the extra plays — which make the difference during the 32 minutes.
"I just try to do everything I can to win and if I don't score it doesn't mean anything if we get the win," Fernandez explained.
Added St. John, "Somebody will be smart enough to pick him up ... He'll be an asset to whatever program he goes to."
But for now, Fernandez remains a critical asset to Hopewell as the season heads toward it's conclusion with success hinging on every pass, rebound and decision their point guard makes at the top of the key.