Chat with Dana O'Neil
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil stops by to chat as the season is starting to get underway.
O'Neil joined ESPN in 2008 O'Neil after working for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Send your questions now and join O'Neil Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Dana O'Neil (3:00 PM)
Hello fellow hoop-heads. Been a long time, so bring on the questions.And better, bring on the games!
Hey dana it,s that time of year when college basketball starts and i,m glad we will see this .my question to you is have you made your pre dictions in the sec.your thoughts.
Dana O'Neil (3:01 PM)
Victor: As far as a prediction, went w/ the obvious and took Kentucky. I like the SEC East a lot. Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina all very good. It's the West that gives me pause. After Mississippi State not a whole bunch to get excited about. At least not yet.
I'm a transplanted UTEP fan! What are their chance of taking CUSA and making the big dance?
Dana O'Neil (3:02 PM)
Lee: I went out on a limb and took Memphis. I know that seems funny, but this year it is a limb. I think they have a good core back and a chip on their shoulder. And until someone else wins, it's still hard to go against them. UTEP and Tulsa to me are the two teams best suited to challenge my theory. If Derrick Caracter can keep his head in the game, he's the kind of player who can and should dominate that league.
St. Bonaventure's Andrew Nicholson has been getting some press lately as an elite big man/shot blocker. Are the Bonnies back???
Dana O'Neil (3:03 PM)
Sean: Interesting you mention Nicholson. Was at a function at St. Joe's the other night and Phil Martelli tabbed him the best pro prospect in the Atlantic 10, even ahead of Chris Wright. That surprised me. I think the Bonnies are on their way back. This year, I think the Flyers own the league.
Dana, What do you see for Alabama?
Dana O'Neil (3:07 PM)
Brad: I hope I see a lot of patience. There's a mountain of work to do in Tuscaloosa and it's not going to happen overnight. I think Bama has the right man in place to attract top players and make things better. But I also hope you guys are willing to wait a little bit.
Mark R (New York)
Hey Dana, who is your pick for best team in New York? The Siena Saints or the Syracuse Orange (or the LeMoyne Dolphins?)
Dana O'Neil (3:10 PM)
Mark: Here's my thinking on the state of New York. Right now is presently construed, ready to play, with experience I have to go w/ Siena. Now... when Syracuse's newer additions - I'm talking Scoop Jardine, Wesley Johnson, etc. - find their way, I think the Orange can and will be a very good team. I just have a hard time ranking them top 25 right now based on what they lost.
Johnny Hazeltine (Las Vegas)
A lot of Jacket fans are losing faith, and growing more and more impatient with Paul Hewitt's decision making. Multiple media outlets have his name on their "hot seats". Would simply making the tourney with 3 McDonald's All-Americans save his job, or does he need to deliver when/if he gets Georgia Tech there?
Dana O'Neil (3:11 PM)
Johnny: Have seen Coach Hewitt's name on the hot seat. Troubling to me simply because I respect the man so much. Understand why he's there and why fans are frustrated, however. I think, barring an epidemic of swine flu that levels the entire team for a month, the Jackets absolutely 300 percent must make the tournament this year. Do they need to go deep? No. Would it be helpful? Yes
Who is a legitimate contender for a national title if Kansas is overated? Michigan State or Texas?
Dana O'Neil (3:12 PM)
Well, Lars, I took Michigan State as my national champ, so I suppose that's the short answer there for me.
Hey Dana, Any updates on Yarou @ NOVA
Dana O'Neil (3:13 PM)
Bill: My understanding he will play tonight and that Villanova has all of the adequate and necessary paperwork to prove his age. They're working w/ the NCAA to make sure there are no stumbling blocks. If there was even the slightest hitch, there's no way he'd be in uniform tonight.
Dana- don't know who your team is but youre welcome to jump on the UK bandwagon all the way to the championship! haha How 'bout the Cats?
Dana O'Neil (3:15 PM)
Dude, that's not a bandwagon. It's a convoy! How 'bout the Cats? They're awfully talented. Here's my caveat and I don't think John Calipari would disagree: they're really young and even the experienced guys are new to his system. If you remember Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans both took time to grow into his system before they became lights out freshmen. So do I think Kentucky is loaded? Absolutely. Do I think they'll be an impossibly nasty out come March? Yes. Do I think theyr'e going to roll unscathed through a pretty brutal schedule. Nope.
Steve (Dallas, TX)
Good Afternoon Dana, do you have a sleeper team that is not in the Top 25 that by the end of the year could be in the Top 10 or 15?
Dana O'Neil (3:16 PM)
Steve: My sleeper team is Cincinnati and here's why. They've got a great returning player in Deonta Vaughn. Point guard Cashmere Wright is healthy. Yancy Gates is back and Lance Stephenson, Lance Stephenson, Lance Stephenson. He's a difference maker.
Dana,I know you will answer a Niagara and Joe Mihalich question. Do you like NU at Auburn tonight? We're not simply relegated to 2nd place in the MAAC already, right? Siena isn't THAT good...are they?
Dana O'Neil (3:19 PM)
Paulie: Absolutely will take a Joe Mihalich question! I'd say Siena is almost that good, but nothing is guaranteed. If I'm looking for teams to challenge I'd say Rider and Niagara. Tyrone Lewis, from my neck of the woods, is terrific and the addition of Bilal Benn last year proved big. So don't think second place just yet.
Who is your sleeper team in the ACC this year,Dana? Go Eagles!
Dana O'Neil (3:20 PM)
Ryan: I think your Eagles are being undervalued. I know losing Tyrese Rice hurts but I'm not sure it's as devastating as people think considering what else BC has back. I'd also throw Maryland into the ACC sleeper category. Fought to get in the tourney last year.
Broad Street Brian (Philly)
Dana, So happy you are back. Is this the year the LaSalle Explorers get into the big dance. The team seems to be talented and full of upperclassmen.
Dana O'Neil (3:22 PM)
Brian: I'd say both Richmond and La Salle will be interesting teams to watch in the A10. Aaric Murray is the real deal. Mix in the returning guys w/ talent like Rodney Green and you've got the making of some interesting goings on in Olney. League is tough at the top this year, but I think La Salle might turn some heads.
RAY GORDON REID ( RALEIGH NC 27601)
QUESTION TO DANA O; NEIL AT 3.40 PM HI DANA WHO WINS COLONIAL ATHLETIC
Dana O'Neil (3:23 PM)
Ray: Gotta go w/ Mason. Experienced team, knows how to win and has the talent to get it done.
What do you make of the recent injury at Northwestern, can they still lose to ND and Butler this month and make it in the tourney?
Dana O'Neil (3:25 PM)
Andrew: Losing Kevin Coble is a huge, huge blow for a team that has a legit shot to break the longest streak in NCAA Tourney history. I'm anxious to see what the second opinion holds for him. If they lose games early w/o him and he is able to come back, the committee will take that into account. THe old Kenyon Martin rule.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Who would you say are the top five freshman to watch before they leave early for the NBA?
Chris (Silver Spring, MD)
Dana, Andy Katz took some heat for putting Nova at 8 in the Power Rankings. You had them at 10. Have you guys been hanging out with Lunardi too much or are you seeing something I'm not? Nova is going to pwn the Big East this year.
Dana O'Neil (3:28 PM)
I'm seeing a team that went to the Final Four when it finally had a really good big man in Dante Cunningham and now I'm seeing a team that has a ton of inexperience at that position. The guards are great. The guards are always great but it took a guy like Cunningham to get them over the hump and into the Final Four. Until Yarou, Pena and to an extent Armwood are proven, I can't put them above 10. They might be there by March. Just not yet.
Hi Dana. Piggy-backing on Sean's St. Bonnies question. Head Coach Mark Schmidt has done a good job so far trying to turn this program around. If he has success the next two years of his contract, does he bolt for a larger school with a better program?
Dana O'Neil (3:29 PM)
Zach: I gotta think if the opportunity presents itself, yes. No offense to St. Bonaventure but there is a ceiling at what can be done there.
AS A CAL FAN I THINK MY BEARS ARE OVERATED RIGHT NOW , BUT I'M GLAD THEY HAD SOME TOUGH MOMENTS EARLY ON THIS YEAR AND BY LETTING THE YOUNGER PLAYERS DURING THE TOUGHER MOMENTS IN THE GAMES IT WILL MAKE THEM A BETTER TEAM LATER IN THE YEAR
Dana O'Neil (3:30 PM)
Brian: The Bears are new to this spotlight/bullseye thing, so I'm not stunned they haven't come crashing out of the gate. To me, they are by far the class of the Pac 10.
Hey Dana, how do you think Michigan will do this year in the Big Ten and on the national stage? Thanks.
Dana O'Neil (3:32 PM)
Adi: Huge year for Michigan last year but now they aren't going to sneak up on anyone. Certainly they have the players back to get back in the tourney and they should get to the second weekend. But the BIg 10 is brutal this eyar. Won't be easy.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
I see my question on the board about the freshmen but no answer to go with it. It's fine if you don't want to answer. I can come up with something else.
Dana O'Neil (3:33 PM)
Technical glitch, sorry. This is why I type on computers not operate them. Anyway... five freshmen, right? Only 5? Off the top of my head go w/ John Wall, Avery Bradley, Derrick Favors, Xavier Henry and EricBledsoeDeMarcusCousinsAbdulGaddy hybrid
Kyle (Raleigh NC)
Is this Sidney Lowe's last chance at NC State or is his recruiting class of 2010 buying him another couple of years?
Dana O'Neil (3:35 PM)
Kyle: Got a lot of heat for putting Sidney Lowe on the hot seat yesterday in my column. I know he got a great recruiting class and maybe, like Paul Hewitt, that buys him teh chance to coach them. But here's the thing: you can't argue his lack of tourney success and that's how most coaches are measured. So I'd say this is a pivotal year for the Wolfpack.
Jasmin (Louisville, KY)
Hey Dana, who is your money on in the ACC/BIG TEN challenge?
Dana O'Neil (3:36 PM)
Jasmin: My money is safely tucked into my wallet but if you're asking who I'm giving the edge to, going w/ the Big 10. Think the league is very strong this year top to bottom. I have questions about the middle of the pack in the ACC - Wake, Clemson, etc.
Dana,Do you think Indiana will be over or under 500 this year?
Dana O'Neil (3:37 PM)
Wes: Can I take the middle and say hovering right around .500? I was really impressed w/ the Hoosier freshmen when I was there and the reason is because they weren't talking like this thing is solved. They realized they are the first of a bunch of steps to turning things around and it won't happen overnight. That's pretty unusual insight for 18 year olds who think they can set the world on fire. The problem for Indiana is it's trying to get better in a league that's going to be ridiculously hard. I think the product on the court will be a considerable upgrade regardless of the record.
Does Illinois two incoming freshman shooting guards Paul/Richardson give them the two players they needed all last year to beat teams like MSU and Purdue?
Dana O'Neil (3:39 PM)
Jeff; Wow, lots of Big Ten questions. Unusual but I like it. I think Illinois is one of the forgotten teams in the Big 10 this year. Everyone is talking about Michigan State and Purdue, then jumping to Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota. I do believe the guards that Bruce Weber has will make a huge huge difference, yes.
Dana, been to the UNC Basketball Museum yet?
Dana O'Neil (3:42 PM)
Nope. Hear its' nice though. I'll be in town for teh Michigan State game. I'lll see if I can pop in.
Kyle (Raleigh NC)
Harrison Barnes ... Carolina 1-and-done or will he join a couple of his friends 8 miles down the road in K-Ville?
Dana O'Neil (3:42 PM)
I have absolutely zero clue. But we'll all know in about 18 minutes when he announces on the U. Either school gets great player and quality kid.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Would you say the Big East is still the strongest conference going into this season or is there another one that you feel is better. Personally I think the Big East is too big thus making it look so strong.
Dana O'Neil (3:43 PM)
JB: I wouldn't say it's the strongest, no but I do have a problem with people saying the league will be down this year. To hold it to last year's standards is silly. THat was a crazy, crazy year. I still think the Big East will be very good and have six or seven teams in the tourney.
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Does it speak for the depth of Texas and Villanova (both beeing top 5) that they each only have one (predicted all america by one ESPN writer) Scottie Reynolds, Pat Forde and Damion James by Dick Vital?
Dana O'Neil (3:45 PM)
Blake: I think so. Texas could field a football team, it's so deep. As for Villanova, I think it's a style of play thing. No superstars, but a really good team.
Ryan (Normal, IL)
Hi Dana! I have an MVC question for you. What are your thoughts on Illinois St. and the preseason conference POY Osiris Eldridge this year? They lost in the conference tourney final the last two years. Could this be the year they finally get over that hump? Do you think there is a good chance the MVC gets multiple bids this year?
Dana O'Neil (3:47 PM)
Ryan: I'd like to see multiple bids out of the MVC. THink the league is strong enough. Love Eldridge.
Tyler Hansbrough (Indianapolis)
Dana, I tried to start a trend by staying all 4 years and enjoying my college experience, and as you know it worked out pretty well for me. Harangody followed in my footsteps and stayed for his senior season this year, can you see any of this years juniors passing up a high draft possibility in favor of having a senior season in 2010-2011?
Dana O'Neil (3:49 PM)
Tyler: God I hope so. Can you talk to some of them, please?
Baron (Large, PA)
18 as an over/under for Pitt win total, what'ya got? Thanks
Dana O'Neil (3:52 PM)
Baron: hmm... sounds about right to me. The injury bug, lack of experience will make it tough sledding early but I always have a hard time counting out a Jamie Dixon team. Too much toughness and tenacity.
How do you think Arizona will do this year? A lot of talented freshmen and a down Pac-10, can Miller keep the tournament streak alive?
Dana O'Neil (3:54 PM)
Tom: I think he can, actually. Probably puts me in the minority. But w/ Nic Wise back, that's a big help and as you said, the Pac 10 is a little more wide open.
Kevin (Rochester, NY)
Can you rank, in your opinion, the Big 5 teams this year?
Dana O'Neil (3:54 PM)
Kevin:VillanovaLa SalleTempleSt. JoePenn
Can i go ahead and buy my tickets to see my spartans cut down the nets?
Dana O'Neil (3:54 PM)
Drew: That's my pick but I'm not responsible to the damage to your credit card should I be wrong.
Dana O'Neil (3:55 PM)
OK folks, I apologize but I have to jump out a little early. Kids getting off the school bus and I'm in big trouble if I'm not there.Enjoy the games this weekend. Finally!