Chat with Graham Hays
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com women's college basketball writer Graham Hays will be here to chat about the NCAA tournament.
Hays contributes to ESPN.com's women's basketball, softball and soccer coverage. He began with ESPN in 1999.
Send your questions now and join Hays Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Graham Hays (4:01 PM)
Hello from San Antonio, will we get a game like last night in Indy? Thanks for stopping by.
George (Windsor, CT)
What are the X factors for each team tonight? Who will be the unsung hero for tonight's game?
Graham Hays (4:04 PM)
3-point shooting for both teams, to some degree, but particularly Stanford. As one of the players said yesterday, neither one of these teams necessarily relies on the 3, but if Pedersen, Pohlen, Gold-Onwude can break out of the long-distance funk that bothered all four teams Sunday, that's obviously a weapon for them. Not the only one they need, but one of them. It's hard to think of an unsung hero, if only because both these teams have narrowed down their rotations by this point. If you're really looking for someone off the radar, can JJ Hones hit a shot or two in limited minutes? And will Lorin Dixon get any minutes to try and push tempo?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Why does the WNBA Draft takes place Immediately after the Women's National Championship game?
Graham Hays (4:06 PM)
With the summer season, they don't have much time to get it in. It's good and bad. A lot of the names are still familiar, but you also get the feeling people need a bit of a break from basketball after the last month. But after Tina Charles at No. 1, it seems like a very interesting first round, trying to figure out where people like Kelsey Griffin, Monica Wright, Jayne Appel fit.
Hey! I notice you and Voepell go on and on and on about minor Stanford injuries while predicting the outcome tonight. My question: Did you give UConn the same qualifiers in the 08' Semi-Finals when the Huskies were without 40% of their starting line-up due to ACL injuries to KG (K. Greene) and outside sniper Mel Thomas? I don't seem to remember ANYONE on here even mentioning UConn's dilemma. Thanks. #Back2Back
Graham Hays (4:07 PM)
Wait, we both picked UConn to win, and you're still complaining about a lack of respect for the Huskies in those picks? That's a new one.
I think Caroline Doty and Kalana Greene. All the attention will be place on TIna and Maya..
Graham Hays (4:09 PM)
As X-factors? That's a good way to go, Martin. I'm still not entirely convinced Connecticut absolutely, positively has to have good games from them to win, but yeah, if they play like Sunday night, it would definitely seem to open that door a little more for the Cardinal. Stanford did a really nice job countering the lack-of-quickness argument against Robinson and Stevenson from OU, but Hayes still seems like a tough matchup.
Can't help overcome this feeling that it's Stanford's turn. What do I do?
Graham Hays (4:12 PM)
Well, reviewing the scores of the last 77 games would be a place to start, I guess. I hear where you're coming from. Stanford feels like too good and too experienced of a team to just get lumped in as another of UConn's inevitable victims, so you wonder if maybe this is the night. But at the risk of offending BobKat, Stanford playing with Appel and Hones so far below 100 percent just makes it tough for me to see an avenue to victory.
Charles (Annapolis, MD)
I am surprised more teams don't implement a double team on Maya Moore. I'd much rather have someone like Doty try to beat me than Moore. Plus Doty hasn't been hitting from the outside all tournament. What do you think?
Graham Hays (4:14 PM)
That may be exactly the recipe next season, but for now, if you double Maya, you're leaving Tina one-on-one on the block. And the Huskies move the ball so well that you risk getting picked apart if you're scrambling. Doty is too smart a player to just camp out at the 3-point line if her defender doubles away. She's going to move, force other defenders to react and all of a sudden you've got Hayes open for a 3 or Kalana Greene open for a 15-footer.
Husky Fan (Waterbury, CT)
Much has been made of UCONN being so dominant the last two years. I have not heard anyone mention TENNESSEE's two year title run as bad for the game in 07 and 08. Is this coaching gender bias?
Graham Hays (4:16 PM)
I don't see it. First off, I think the argument that it's bad for the game is garbage. But for those misguided enough to make it, I don't think they're basing it on the championships as much as the lack of losses and margin of victory.
Steve (Denver, Co)
Does UConn have a legitimate answer for Kayla Pedersen? Is she the difference maker if Stanford wins?
Graham Hays (4:19 PM)
Could well be. I was a little surprised that Pedersen didn't post up more against Oklahoma, especially when she had a much smaller player in Hartman on her most of the time. But wherever she looks for her shots tonight, she'll be very important on the boards. Stanford outrebounded Connecticut in the first half of the game in December and then got blitzed 30-13, if I remember right, in rebounds in the second half. So if Pedersen hits two or three 3-pointers and gets near 10 rebounds, Stanford would have to feel much better about its chances.
What do you think about Tina and Renee both getting the chance to play for the CT Sun in the WNBA?
Graham Hays (4:23 PM)
I think it's great for fans, although I'm really interested to see what kind of impact it actually has on attendance, if any. But from a basketball standpoint, with some of the other moves the Sun have made, it looks like a very good (albeit not undefeated) summer of basketball in the state. Not sure I'd be a big fan of stacking rosters regionally, but if it happens to work out that way (with perhaps a gentle nudge in the case of the Whalen-Montgomery swap), great.
Have you seen Chiney Ogwumike play? She is amazing!
Graham Hays (4:25 PM)
Only a little bit in the McDonald's game, which doesn't really offer much in the way of insight. It will be interesting to see how they fit her in with her sister and Pedersen next year. Will Tinkle essentially take over as the 5? Or Boothe, if she's healthy? Or as Mechelle Voepel was saying the other day, how about possibly sliding Pedersen to the 2 and goes with that kind of size all across the starting lineup.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who has the first pick overall in the 2010 WNBA Draft? That team will Select Tina Charles from Connecticut Correct?
Graham Hays (4:25 PM)
Alecks (Brownsville, Tx)
I'm a UCONN fan and have been since their run in 1995. And hope they win again tonight. But, my question is. Do you think Baylor might accomplish something similar to what UCONN has done in the next couple of years? As, we all saw what Brittney Griner can do. She has come along way and I can only imagine what she'll do in the next couple years with a good group of players surrounding her. So, do you think they'll do something similar to what UCONN accomplished in this two years?
Graham Hays (4:28 PM)
That's a really good question. Most honest answer I can give is I don't know because we still don't know exactly what Brittney Griner will develop into. If she really reaches her highest ceiling on the offensive end, maybe. They have a good young group around her, although they definitely need a shooter or two, and they'll lose Kelli Griffin at point after next season. My inclination is it wouldn't be a run quite like Connecticut, but could it be a team capable of winning back-to-back titles and losing once or twice a season? Absolutely.
Rick (Fredericton, Canada)
What is the extent of Appels injury
Graham Hays (4:32 PM)
First off, love Fredericton. Really cool city that I hope to get back to at some point soon. That plug out of the way, the most pressing injury is the ankle, which she sprained early in March. And that thing really is swollen. It's not debilitating (easy for me to say), but watching her, she just doesn't have get the same lift she had before, or quite the same power when she finishes. She was talking yesterday about getting it scraped regularly as part of the treatment, basically having a plastic tool scraped over it to increase blood flow and reduce swelling, as best my limited medical knowledge could deduce. That alone sounds like enough to knock me out of action, and that's just the treatment.
Erica (Boise, ID )
How can a 6'8 player like Brittany Griner be so passive on the boards? She's an amazing shot blocker, but I've seen 5'5 guards go after rebounds harder than she does. With her size and athleticism, she should be a dominant rebounder. I realize she's just a freshman and has lots of time to develop, but I was surprised at her passivity on the boards.
Graham Hays (4:34 PM)
Her rebounding numbers are surprising. I would say I don't think it's an attitude thing or an unwillingness to do it. More that she's still figuring out how to use her body at the college level, and especially, what referees will and won't call against her if she starts moving people around. I agree with you, but I think, like her post moves, there's every reason to believe she'll add that over the years.
lol. No, it just has bugged me to this day that NOBODY ever mentions those 08' injuries when they CONSTANTLY say that Stanford was the last team to beat UConn!My "X-Factor" is KG. She can "go off" at any given time. And, like I said, SHE remembers 08'!!
Graham Hays (4:35 PM)
She remembers a lot more than '08. Amusing moment yesterday was her trying to decide what to call her fourth year. She settled on "first senior year" in the end.
Andy (New York, NY)
What do you think about letting Maya attack Ogwumike early and often right form the tip? If they match up 1v1, I think it could cause some early [and serious] foul troubles for Stanford.
Graham Hays (4:38 PM)
Honestly, if I'm UConn I don't think I try and do anything out of the ordinary. Make Stanford adjust to you. Sort of a tangent to what you're talking about, there's been so much talk about Nneka the last couple of days (finally and deservedly so) that I'm really interested to see if Moore comes out with that sort of superstar mindset of showing she's still No. 1. Not going outside the offense to do it at the expense of her team but just taking the competitive challenge and rising to it.
What's your gut tell you about how UCONN will respond if presented with a tight game at the end?
Graham Hays (4:40 PM)
Great question. My gut is Moore is the kind of player who would take a team by the scruff of the neck in that situation and refuse to let things get away. And sort of like with Butler last night (granted, it was the underdog), it seems easier to get through those potential nerves if you're a team that can count on playing great team defense. Nerves can knock your shot off, but defense is defense.
Jack (Ogunquit, Maine)
Your final score prediction for tonight's game?
Graham Hays (4:43 PM)
I'm going to go Connecticut 75, Stanford 60, with the game in single digits inside the last 10 minutes.
Bill (Versailles, Ct)
With the number of upsets in the Women's NCAA tournament this year, do you believe that the depth in Women's basketball across the board is finally here to stay?
Graham Hays (4:45 PM)
I'd rather say continuing to emerge than here to stay. To me, the balance from Nos 3-50 is closer than ever, but it's an evolving process. There might be a few more seasons lurking out there were the first two weekends of the tournament are all chalk, but by and large, I think we're getting to a point where it's reasonable to think what we saw this year will increasingly be the norm.
Erica (Boise, ID)
What did you think of Geno's comment that he'll quit if UConn is still undefeated as of next January because he will have lost all respect for all the other coaches and programs?
Graham Hays (4:48 PM)
I wouldn't take anything he says in that vein all too seriously with as much time as he's required to spend in front of a microphone. Purely from an outsider's perspective, he seems like he's having more fun than ever right now. I don't see him going anywhere anytime soon.
Mike (New York )
Lorin Dixon is on eof the most quickkiest guards that I have ever seen in the women's game. Do yo uthink her entering the game will affect the flow of the card offense and defense?
Graham Hays (4:51 PM)
She played some good minutes in the semifinal last year, but the Huskies seem pretty locked in with Faris as pretty much the only sub likely to get significant minutes, barring fouls. But yes, if Connecticut was struggling to get out in transition early, I could see her being the player to kickstart it if called upon.
Hey Graham! There is alot of conversation regarding Jayne's ankle and how she is hindered. Despite her ankle she was still able to pull out a double-double against Oklahoma. Do you really think there is that much of a miss match against Tina? I know Tina is quick and will make her work, but this would be Jayne's last game.
Graham Hays (4:53 PM)
It will be, and I have no doubt she'll give everything she has. But whether it's a healthy Appel, a slowed Appel or any other version or any other post, Charles runs the floor better than any big in the game. At some point, I expect that's going to take a toll.
Who would be your top 5 teams next year?
Graham Hays (4:54 PM)
In no particular oder yet, I'd go Connecticut, Stanford, Baylor, Tennessee and Xavier.
Erica (Boise, ID)
Just to follow-up, I wasn't suggesting that Geno was remotely serious about leaving, but rather the idea that if his team remains undefeated, it's basically because nobody is trying hard enough. I just find that idea kind of interesting.
Graham Hays (4:56 PM)
How many first round draft picks do the huskies have?
Graham Hays (4:57 PM)
Right now? Probably four, depending on where Greene ends up this year. Hayes looks like a first-rounder down the road.
I was also surprised that Kayla Pedersen wasn't more of a factor in the OK game. How do you think Kalana Greene will be able to defend her -- and can she defend Kalana in terms of movement and quicks?
Graham Hays (4:59 PM)
Probably not in constant transition, but that's not the only place Stanford would be in some trouble if this turns into a track meet. Pedersen was terrific in the first half of the game in December and really kind of vanished in the second half. How much of that was the defense and how much was the fatigue of playing three teams that defend like Duke, Tennessee and UConn in a short stretch? I guess we'll find out.
On Griner's rebounding, I'm guessing she didn't need to move much in H.S. to get almost every rebound and that it's taking her some time to adjust to having pretty big, strong players around her...she doesn't look like she knows where to go, etc.. How well do you think Baylor coaches can develop her --vs. what someone like Geno and Chris Dailey could do??
Graham Hays (5:02 PM)
Good point. And that's sort of the same thing Mulkey, and Griffin for that matter, said about her offense. They had to basically teach her how to post up rather than just waiting for someone to lob it at the rim. I don't know how long Barmore wants to stay there, but when you've got Mulkey and him, coaching won't be a concern. On the list of demanding coaches, there wouldn't be a whole lot of room between Auriemma and Mulkey. And Louisiana Tech certainly had some pretty good post players in its day.
Ok, here's a good one. If you were a GM of a WNBA team and both Maya & Tina were entering the draft at the same time who would you take? why?
Graham Hays (5:04 PM)
I'd take Maya, if only because if you've got two guaranteed stars, I want the one who is guaranteed to have the ball in her hands more often.
Leo (San Diego)
How much do you think UConn has improved since their game with Stanford in December? Is is fair to compare that game with what we'll see tonight?
Graham Hays (5:05 PM)
It's fair in that watching that game, you saw two teams that weren't physically mismatched. Stanford belonged on the same court as Connecticut, which hasn't always been the case this season. But beyond that, given location, injuries, timing and just general improvement on both sides, I'm not sure it's much of a road map for tonight.
Graham Hays (5:06 PM)
All right, the VP is in the house tonight, so I'm going to go figure out all the extra security over at the Alamodome. Hope you enjoy the game and thanks for all the questions.
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