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Preseason All-Rolls teams? Opinions galore

Q: I was surprised to see that no Kentucky player made any of your All-Rolls Royce teams, because you have Kentucky as a top team for this coming season. Do you not see a top player on this year's Wildcats, or do you see this team as just having many solid players who can combine for a run at the championship? -- Allen Frazier, Bardstown, Kentucky
-- When I look at this Kentucky team, I see a lot of balance. I see plenty of talented players but I don't see a superstar, and that has been a trademark lately with Kentucky basketball. The Wildcats do it with defense, unselfishness and team play. When I look at the Wildcats, I see Chuck Hayes being a good rebounder inside, Gerald Fitch being a solid scorer, Cliff Hawkins providing penetration ability and Erik Daniels providing excellent wing play. But I don't see a superstar talent. The 'Cats are about the team and not the individuals.

Julius Page
Pitt's Julius Page can soar, but not high enough to make a preseason All-Rolls Royce team.
Q: Why the disrespect shown to Daniel Horton in your All-Rolls Royce teams? He was Big 10 Freshman of the Year, named first team All-Freshman by several groups, yet you put two rising sophs (including Bracey Wright) ahead of him. Is this just another way to punish Michigan? -- Steve, Seattle

VITALE -- I think anyone who makes a statement like that ... well, that's absurd. Nobody has been a bigger supporter of the job done by coach Tommy Amaker at Ann Arbor. I've said all along that an injustice was done to him and to his players because of the punishment the Wolverines received from the NCAA. These kids were not part of the scene during the Fab Five era that led to the current sanctions.

I guess you haven't been following my comments and statements. Horton is a solid player, and you can make an argument for him and a number of other players. That's part of the fun of picking these teams and having opinions.

Q: I was just reading over your selections for your All-Rolls Royce team and can't believe I didn't see Julius Page's name. Are you kidding me? He is the best high-riser in the country! -- Pittsburgh fan
-- Page has phenomenal upside. He's a tremendous athlete and a great leaper. But he must be more consistent shooting the rock. Remember, these All-Rolls Royce selections are subjective, and the bottom line is that everyone is entitled to his opinion. I picked them by position, and while Julius is one of the top players in the country, I went with a few different people.

Q: I know that I will be the 10 millionth Kansas fan to post this but must do it anyway: How can you leave Keith Langford off all of your Rolls Royce teams? All the man has done is play a huge role in back-to-back Final Four appearances, often score at will, steadily improve, step up in big games, and "overachieve." Explain ... please. -- Andrew Taylor, Cambridge, Massachusetts
-- Again, Langford is an explosive scorer, and at the end of the year he has the potential to make an All-Rolls Royce team. This is the preseason, but it's all about postseason. He can be there at the end. There are so many talented players out there.

Q: I just saw your All-Rolls Royce teams and must say that you left out two kids who are going to have incredible seasons in 2003-04: Gerry McNamara at Syracuse and his counterpart, Billy Edelin. -- Dan Mueller, Gaeta, Italy
-- How many guys can you pick? They are talented players, but All-American status is a different level. McNamara and Edelin were valuable to Syracuse in terms of providing offense to complement Carmelo Anthony. We have to see what happens now that Anthony is in the NBA. Syracuse will still be a very good team, as I ranked them in my Sweet 16.

Q: Loved your All-Rolls Royce teams, but you can't be serious if you think there are five better point guards in America than Illinois' Dee Brown. Just wondering why the "Human Fastbreak" didn't make your cut. Go Illini. -- Shawn Whetsell, Peoria, Illinois
-- Brown is in his second year. If he has a phenomenal year, he could be there in the postseason. Again, the postseason team is what really counts.

Q: No Andre Emmett on your five preseason All-Rolls Royce teams? You must have forgotten about him. No way are there 25 players in the nation better than him. -- Chris H., Amarillo, Texas
-- You can make a case for Emmett, who is a big-time scorer. He has to be more consistent rebounding, and as coach Bob Knight said, he has to be a better defensive player, understanding the importance of defending consistently.

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