V-MAIL | Sept. 24
Q: How can a guy like Missouri coach Quin Snyder come from a program like Duke and have all these problems in his program? Either his assistants are the problem, or he's doing what he was taught at his last employer. I find it funny that some of the "big" powers in college basketball never get investigated. -- Mike, St. Louis
VITALE -- These problems could happen in many different situations. In this case, Snyder tried to give someone (guard Ricky Clemons) an opportunity to be part of a first-class program. He hoped to watch the young man grow as a person. So many coaches are guilty of thinking they can change a recruit and correct his flaws. Snyder is a classy guy and a winner. I've followed his career through his playing days at Duke -- he's a first-class guy. The bottom line is, sometimes we make decisions that aren't always the best. I made some when I was coaching, too. You have to be accountable, and Snyder is. There have been lots of allegations, but nothing has been proven factual yet. All we know is that Snyder made a mistake bringing in a player who has obviously had some problems.
Q: How much of a difference do you believe Baylor transfer Lawrence Roberts will make at Mississippi State this coming year? How far do you think Mississippi State can go? -- Ryan, Picayune, Mississippi
VITALE -- Roberts is a big-time player who comes from some great stock. At ESPN, we're proud because he is the nephew of ESPN and ABC analyst Robin Roberts, one of the classiest ladies in the television world. Roberts will be a great addition for coach Rick Stansbury, especially after high school sensation Travis Outlaw jumped straight to the NBA instead of going to Starkville. Roberts brings plenty of experience from the tough Big 12, and he should provide point production and rebounding on the interior. Mississippi State also lost big man Mario Austin to the pros early, so Roberts should pick up the slack from his departure. Austin should have stayed in school.
Q: Do you think North Carolina can take the ACC title from Duke this year? I think so. Chris Duhon has proven he isn't good under pressure, and Raymond Felton is the next Phil Ford. -- Jack Garner, North Carolina
VITALE -- Why not? When you look at the Tar Heels' lineup -- especially the trio of Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May, plus the other returning talent -- they have a great opportunity to challenge in the ACC. Having a healthy May makes all the difference in the world, and the year of experience for those guys will help. They will be in the upper echelon in coach Roy Williams' first year as head coach at Chapel Hill, no doubt about it.
Q: I love University of Louisville basketball, but do you think coach Rick Pitino has the players to win a national title this year? -- Louisville fan
VITALE -- Louisville has made so many positive strides in Pitino's two years there. He's way ahead of schedule from where I expected them to be. His club is capable of beating anyone. Obviously, they will miss Reece Gaines, but they have players who are capable of stepping up after a year of experience, guys like Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean. Now they have that year of winning experience. Pitino is one of the magical minds in the game. He's a dynamic leader who gets his players to perform at a high level emotionally. The Cardinals have to be one of the favorites in Conference USA. It should be a great season at Louisville.
Q: My friends and I were debating about the best men's college basketball teams not to win the NCAA championship. As for the teams we actually saw play, our main picks were Georgetown in 1985, UNLV in 1991 and Duke in 1999. Any teams you would add to the list? -- Andrew, Boston
VITALE -- Those are certainly great choices. When you think about the NCAA Tournament over the years, the best team doesn't always win. Other schools get on a roll and get hot. The 3-point shot has created a lot of parity. Teams with great ability often are eliminated. This past season, for example, Kentucky looked like a lock for the Final Four the way it ran through the SEC unblemished. There have been lots of quality teams that have come up short at tournament time because of the one-and-done system. A single bad night and the party is over!