V-MAIL | May 3, 2004 | Send a V-Mail question
|Last season, coach Ben Howland's first in Westwood, UCLA went 11-17. But given time, he can rebuild the Bruins.|
Q: How long do you think it will take coach Ben Howland to make UCLA into a Final Four team? -- Juan Enriquez (Valencia, Calif.)
VITALE -- Howland now has one season under his belt in Westwood after coming over from Pittsburgh. I would say that you'll see UCLA back in the hunt in three years. The Bruins should get recruits in that time, and they may get 6-foot-11 freshman David Padgett as a transfer from Kansas. UCLA has some outstanding guards coming in next season, but they need some size. Freshman forward Trevor Ariza's decision to go pro (unless he changes his mind and withdraws) was a surprise.
Q: Absolutely love what you do for the game of basketball ... what do you project for the Michigan Wolverines next season? Am I exaggerating by thinking Sweet 16? -- Taylor (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
VITALE -- Thanks for your nice words. Coach Tommy Amaker will build on his team's success; winning this year's NIT championship was a big plus. The Wolverines have momentum, and there's a nice returning nucleus with guard Daniel Horton, big man Courtney Sims and Co. Amaker has the program going in the right direction and the problems from the Fab Five days are over now.
Q: Do you think Nevada is just a one-hit wonder? Or, like Gonzaga, is the Wolf Pack here to stay due to strong recruiting? -- Todd White
VITALE -- I really like the job coach Trent Johnson is doing, and I believe the Wolf Pack can make some noise in the WAC. The early loss of talented guard Kirk Snyder to the NBA hurts, but Johnson can recruit and Nevada can be competitive. The Wolf Pack should be consistent and create some excitement.
Q: How are my Arkansas Razorbacks looking for next season? I've had three depressing years in a row. Will things be changing? Thanks! -- Mike (Fayetteville, Ark.)
VITALE -- Coach Stan Heath has certainly hit the pavement trying to get some good recruits. If high school phenom Al Jefferson passes on the NBA and joins the Razorbacks, watch out.
Q: What do you think about Arizona's squad next season? Once again, the Wildcats have good talent coming in, but do you think they'll be able to become a team and win? -- Ryan (Phoenix, Ariz.)
VITALE -- The decision of sophomore forward Andre Iguodala to go to the NBA is shocking to me. He should have stayed in school and worked hard under the tutelage of coach Lute Olson to improve his game. Arizona did not always buy into key defensive concepts last season, and it showed. The lack of depth also hurt at times. But the Wildcats have lots of talent, and they can rebound from their 80-76 loss to Seton Hall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Q: With his great season this past year, do you think Indiana guard Bracey Wright can make a run for player-of-the-year honors next season? -- Lee (Tuscumbia, Ala.)
VITALE -- I assume you mean Big Ten conference honors. Yes, Wright can definitely make a run at it. He has natural ability, but he has to get help from the Hoosiers' supporting cast. Indiana has a nice recruiting class coming in, though it appears that Josh Smith is going to the NBA instead of to Bloomington. Wright, who will be a junior, can be a contender for Big Ten player of the year.
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before providing color commentary for ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.