Chat with Fran Frashilla
Fran spent 23 years on the sidelines as a college basketball coach before joining ESPN as an broadcast analyst. He guided both Manhattan (1993, 1995) and St. John's (1998) to the NCAA Tournament in his nine seasons as a Division I head coach, leaving New Mexico following the end of the 2001-02 season.
Send your questions now and join Fran in The Show on Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Fran Fraschilla (2:04 PM)
I'm excited about the college basketball season kicking off this week. I don't know if you watched the UCLA game last night but I can see that the Bruins miss Kevin Love in the paint. Good job by the Red Hawks who provided a tough test for UCLA.
Kyle, Arlington, WA.
Now that washington seems to have most of the pieces in place how do you think that they will do this season??
Fran Fraschilla (2:07 PM)
Coach Lorenzo Romar's club should be much improved for two reasons. First, so many great players from the Pac-10 are now in the NBA. Second, they have Jon Brockman and Quincy Poindexter. One big key for their team will be the emergence of their freshman PG Isaiah Thomas. He is a quick and talented lefty who can score. I look for the Huskies to be in the middle of the pack and make a serious run towards a NCAA bid.
Fran, do you think Syracuse will make the NCAA tournament this year and be a factor in March?
Fran Fraschilla (2:14 PM)
Yes I do because they have Jonny Flynn. And Syracuse also has the ultimate winner in Eric Devendorf, and Andy Rautins back. They will also get big play from big man Arinze Onuaku, who made a name for himself down low last season. Their only problem will be making it through their rugged Big East schedule.
Lee Evans - Buffalo, NY
Do you think that the Buffalo Bulls could be successful in the MAC this year?
Fran Fraschilla (2:18 PM)
Nobody quietly does a better coaching job then Sean Weatherspoon. This Bulls team is young and doesn't have the inside presence as some UB teams from recent years. On their side of the MAC, look for Akron to be very good along with Miami (OH). In the West division, Western Michigan has a star in the making in junior guard David Kool. Lee, I hope you are one of those crazy UB students because you have a great home crowd.
Chad (Savannah, GA)
What is the outlook for LSU this season? Can they compete with Bama for the SEC west?
Fran Fraschilla (2:20 PM)
They are one of my dark-horse teams, Chad. They return a healthy Tasmin Mitchell and with the rest of their talented roster, they will be in the field of 65. The x-factor may be coach Trent Johnson and his no-nonsense approach. This can be a dangerous team in the SEC.
Justin (Yardley, PA)
What are your thoughts on the Villanova Wildcats? Can the team make another run to the Sweet 16?
Fran Fraschilla (2:25 PM)
They may have an easier time getting into the Sweet 16 than they will have getting into the top six in the Big East. Big East league play will be very difficult this season. With that said, I like Villanova's squad because they are a year older. Corey Stokes came on strong last year and Scottie Reynolds is an all-conference player who is a big time scorer. A healthy Shane Clark is important and the emergence of Dante Cunningham will be important as well. If you think they can shoot the three this year, just remember that former Duke player Taylor King will be eligible next year.
Will anyone challenge Xavier for the A10 hardware this year?
Fran Fraschilla (2:30 PM)
That's a good question, Jeff. Even though Xavier is reloading, they are stacked up front. Derrick Brown is one of the best defenders in the game, Jason Love and Jamel McClean are great athletes and seven foot freshman Kenny Frease will be a factor early in the season. The key to their success will be freshman guard Terrell Holloway. He has big shoes to fill in replacing Drew Lavender. And games against St. Joe's will be tough battles. UMass has some fire back and keep your eye on LaSalle, especially if MSU transfer Vernon Goodridge is a factor. This league has some of the best coaches in the country in it, especially this year. There are ten teams that can make a run at the top of the league.
Shane (Reno, NV)
Will Nevada be able to overcome experience and size issues in the frontcourt this year?
Fran Fraschilla (2:34 PM)
Not a lot of people realize what a great job Mark Fox does with the Wolf Pack. I love their team, not so much this season but definitely in the years to come. Freshman Like Babbitt is on track to make the same type of impact on Nevada basketball as Nick Fazekas did. But I love the backcourt of Armon Johnson and Brandon Fields. They will be favorite to win the WAC this year and could be a Top 25 team a year form now. Utah State is always dangerous. San Jose State has a boat load of experience back and LA Tech has some outstanding transfers.
Hi coach. Do you think Maryland will turn it around this year?
Fran Fraschilla (2:38 PM)
They are a major question mark right now. Gary Williams' backcourt is rock solid with Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez. Landon Milbourne has improved, but the key to Maryland getting back on track is some production from their inside game. Braxton Dupree, a 6'8 monster, may be the key to their success, if he can get himself into shape.
Are the young Hoosiers going to struggle or surprise?
Fran Fraschilla (2:41 PM)
If the Hoosiers finish in 9th or 10th in the Big Ten then Tom Crean will be Big 10 coach of the year. No program in recent years, including Baylor, with their NCAA scandal five years ago, has been more decimated. With two great recruiting classes already, I think there is an outside chance they can be in the NCAA tourney in 2009-10, and certainly by 2010-11. By that time, Hoosier basketball will be back in the right place, among college hoops blue bloods.
Other than Davidson are there any mid majors you can see making a run come March?
Fran Fraschilla (2:51 PM)
There are a whole host of them. My best bets, outside of Davidson, and of course Gonzaga, who is no longer a mid-major team, are Creighton and Siena (the MAAC's best club). Miami (OH) showed UCLA last night what they are about, and Cleveland State may be the best Horizon League team. And never count out Chris Lowery's Salukis of Southern Illinois.
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