Chat with Eamonn Brennan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan will be here to chat some college basketball.
Brennan started with ESPN.com in December 2009. He writes for the College Basketball Nation blog.
Send your questions now and join Brennan Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Eamonn Brennan (2:05 PM)
Good afternoon, everybody. It's college hoops chat time. In the words of that creepy Mortal Kombat dude, let's ... BEGIN!
Tyler ((Indianapolis, IN))
Hey Eamonn: What will it take for the Hoosiers to once again become one of the top tier teams in college basketball? Do they need to get a 5 star prospect like Branden Dawson or assemble steady recruiting classes with Cody Zeller and Jeremiah Davis?
Eamonn Brennan (2:08 PM)
How about both, but in different stages? Right now, the Hoosiers should probably be expending recruiting time and energy on finding players that can compete in the Big Ten and get IU looking like a legitimate college basketball team again. Once that foundation is laid -- and with some sparkling new practice facilities in Bloomington -- there's no reason why Tom Crean and company can't go after the top recruits in the country on a yearly basis.
What are the chances that Butler can make it to the finals again?
Eamonn Brennan (2:10 PM)
Good, but not as good as last year. Losing Gordon Hayward -- and, less appreciably, senior forward Willie Veasley -- will be a major blow to the Bulldogs' chances of getting to a second straight Final Four. No surprise there. But Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard are awfully good players; Mack can carry the scoring load for long stretches, and Howard is a former Horizon League player of the year. If Ronald Nored can make up for some of Hayward's lost scoring, Butler should be right back in the hunt. Are they as good as this year's team? Probably not. But they'll still be pretty good.
Ed Hochuli (Chat Ref)
Just letting you know I'm here, Eamonn.
Eamonn Brennan (2:10 PM)
Be advised, chatters. Ed is in the building.
How long is the chat going today? Another mini marathon?
Eamonn Brennan (2:11 PM)
That all depends. Will the questions be good? Will the topics be thoughtful? Will the strong caffeine buzz I just tied off hold out? Only time will tell.
Hey Eamonn- with the return of Davis and McCamey and their incoming recruiting class will Illinois once again be contenders?
Eamonn Brennan (2:13 PM)
Contenders for what? The Big Ten? Then yes, I think so. Adding Jereme Richmond to the foundation of McCamey, Davis, Tisdale, and young guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson ought to be enough to keep the Illini in the hunt for a conference title throughout the season. Nationally? No, not so much. But a tournament appearance should be no problem.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What NBA Team do you think that Butler F Heyward will play for in 2010-2011?
Eamonn Brennan (2:15 PM)
I can't say I'm a draft expert, but since I'm a servicey kind of guy, Chad Ford's latest mock draft (which is Insider, FYI) has Hayward going all the way up at No. 8 to the Clippers. In April, it seemed like Hayward had a chance to stay at school because his draft stock was in that 10-20 range. But he's looking better than ever now.
brett (louisville) [via mobile]
Hey eamonn, what can i expect from my l'ville cards this yr? Can we be a contender for the big east champ?
Eamonn Brennan (2:18 PM)
Pittsburgh and Villanova (and maybe Syracuse) look like the early Big East contenders, but the good news for Louisville is that the conference should be much more wide open at the top than it has been in recent years (especially in 2008-09, when the top of the conference was insanely good).
Eamonn, How good can Nova be without Scottie Reynolds next year?
Eamonn Brennan (2:20 PM)
Scottie Reynolds made Villanova go last year, no question about it, but that doesn't mean the team is bereft of talent. Quite the contrary. The Wildcats have lots of guys -- Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek -- that should keep them in the thick of things in the post-Reynolds era.
Chris A. (Houston)
How good do you think Baylor can be next year with the departure of Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh?
Eamonn Brennan (2:23 PM)
Quite good, actually. It hurts to lose those two, especially Udoh, who was a dominating force down low. But Baylor has one of the best big men in the class of 2010 arriving this fall -- 6-foot-11 power forward Perry Jones -- and with LaceDarius Dunn on the ball, Baylor should be just fine.
Hey Eamonn, What are your thoughts on this year's incoming freshmen class??? As a whole I don't see a standout player, and I'm pretty positive Harrison Barnes is not a game-changing player like Wall, Rose etc prior.. Do you think the 1 and done year could go by the wayside for at least 1 year???
Eamonn Brennan (2:26 PM)
Interesting question. It's hard to find a Wall-esque gamechanger in this recruiting class. The closest thing might be Barnes, who should have a chance to excel immediately in Roy Williams' uptempo style. Kentucky recruit Brandon Knight, Duke recruit Kyrie Irving, and Kansas signee Josh Selby are all point guards that will have an immediate impact on their teams, even if that impact won't make any of them the No. 1 overall pick next year. I'll be interested to see what Ohio State's Jared Sullinger does -- he's a big man with a polished post game who can apparently take his face-ups out to 18 feet.
Do you think we will have to wait another 25 years for two private schools to face each other in the NCAA Finals?
Eamonn Brennan (2:28 PM)
There's an awfully good chance Duke will be back next year. As for the No. 2 team, well, if Butler doesn't do it, who else could? But I doubt it will be another 25 years. Duke will be around for a while, and one of the other privates will break through much sooner than that. I think.
Always wanted an answer to this question.... I am from a "mid major school." Come Selection Sunday every year, you hear about certain mid majors and the fact that "they didn't play/beat anybody." We all know that the NCAA revolves around the almighty dollar. The only way these smaller school can play these schools is to play on the road. Also, there are many more mid major schools that would love to play "Powerhouses" and less "Powerhouses" that want to play a mid major. Supply vs Demand, simple Economics. Am I wrong? Is there anything that can change this perception?
Eamonn Brennan (2:31 PM)
No, you're pretty much right. Mid-majors get a bad rap at tournament time for having weak resumes, but it's tough for a lot of them -- especially consistently good ones, like, say, Siena -- to convince schools to play them during the regular season. There's no real advantage to the powerhouse team there. One solution I think might work is to force schools to play some number of former mid-major tournament teams, or something, though that option is pretty vague and murky. It's just not a good situation for mid-majors. HOWEVA: It is important to remember that mid-majors have plenty of time during their seasons to prove themselves. Butler didn't have a single good Horizon League team to play this year, so it went ahead and beat all of them. The best option for other mid-majors is to do the same and hope the selection committee acknowledges it.
What is the current status of Robbie Hummel. Many of the early preseason rankings simply assume that Hummel will be back and ok, but he will be about 8 month removed from ACL reconstruction at the beginning of November, which is about the amount of time it takes athletes to get back on the court, but it usually takes longer to get back to 100%. At what point during the year do you see him firing on all cylinders if at all?
Eamonn Brennan (2:33 PM)
Hummel might have a bit of an athletic learning curve coming back from the injury, but the timing should be OK. November isn't a high pressure month for programs like Purdue. By the time the conference season rolls around in early January, Hummel should have plenty of game experience under his belt. JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore can hold things down in the meantime.
Do you think Seth Curry can be a game-changing player in the ACC or is he more of a role player better suited coming off the Duke bench?
Eamonn Brennan (2:36 PM)
There's no question Curry is talented enough to be a very solid scorer in the ACC. The question is how Duke will implement him. With Kyrie Irving on the way and Nolan Smith returning for his senior season, Duke has a pretty packed backcourt. How that backcourt congeals will be one of the more interesting things to watch in the early part of the 2010-11 season.
Is UK's 2010 recruiting class better than last year's?
Eamonn Brennan (2:38 PM)
I'd be really surprised if that ended up being the case. Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, and Terrence Jones are all really, really good players, but none of them is quite the force that John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins was. Throw in the fact that Calipari essentially recruited Patrick Patterson away from the NBA draft lottery last summer and it's hard to see this year's group topping 2009's. But this is sort of splitting hairs: Both recruiting classes are No. 1 overall, and if you're a Kentucky fan, you'll be thankful all the same.
Who are your top 5 teams for next year?
Eamonn Brennan (2:40 PM)
Let's see. I'll go with: 1. Duke, 2. Purdue, 3. Michigan State, 4. Kansas, 5. Kansas State. Any dissenters?
What'd you go with for coffee? You a double espesso sort of guy or what?
Eamonn Brennan (2:41 PM)
No coffee. Just Red Bull. I'm a pretty gross human being.
Matt (Rome, GA)
How do you think the Tennessee vols will respond after losing guys like Chism, Prince, and Maze and what kind of impression will tobias harris make as a freshman.
Eamonn Brennan (2:44 PM)
I think Bruce Pearl is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. It feels weird to write that, because Pearl is a very well-known and much sought-after guy, but he's managed to get his teams into winning position -- especially in the tournament -- year after year throughout his coaching career. Scotty Hobson will have to be even better in 2010-11 for Tennessee to keep pace with the 2009-10 Vols, but they can do it. As for Tobias Harris, he should fit nicely into Pearl's system, which stretches the floor and gives skilled combo forwards like Harris (and like Chism) plenty of room to operate.
Do you think Mike Rice can turn around the RU program?
Eamonn Brennan (2:48 PM)
That depends on your definition of "turn around." It's hard to imagine Rutgers ever assuming the Big East throne. But Rice could have them competitive quickly; he's an East Coast guy who knows how to recruit New York and New Jersey, and that alone should be an improvement over his predecessors' tough tenures there.
Eamonn, what do you think of UCONN's recruiting class this year? They are decently ranked despite only a single top 100 player. Can they bring the glory back to Storrs?
Eamonn Brennan (2:51 PM)
Ah, UConn. At this point, the Huskies are unlikely to bring any glory back (in the near future, anyway). Jim Calhoun's 2010 recruiting class is good, sure, but it lacks the suite of stars UConn fans have grown accustomed to. Throw in the amount of talent leaving Storrs this season (and some lingering doubts over Calhoun's future at the program despite his new contract extension, AND the looming NCAA investigation into the recruitment of guard Nate Miles) and UConn is in an atypically bad position going into the 2010 season.
Lewis (San Francisco)
Nowhere for the Pac-10 to go reputation-wise than up from last year. Washington is the easy pick to win it, but who of the other 9 teams do you see as potential challengers and/or possible tourney teams?
Eamonn Brennan (2:53 PM)
The correct answer at this point is probably "none of them," but if forced to choose I'd say UCLA and Cal have the best young talent on hand. Arizona is probably a year or two away, but Sean Miller has things going in the right direction there already.
How epic are those Purdue-Michigan State games going to be this season?
Eamonn Brennan (2:55 PM)
Epic. And awesome. Awesomely epic.
Chris A. (Houston)
What do you think of Texas' incoming freshman Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph? Can they help the team be a little bit more competitive next year?
Eamonn Brennan (2:56 PM)
I actually think Joseph could be a really good addition. The Longhorns lacked a complete point guard last year, a guy who could score and also defend, could facilitate but also create his own shot. Joseph seems to have those qualities. We'll see.
What do you make of the proposed Big 10 expansion? Will this have a negative effect on college hoops?
Eamonn Brennan (2:59 PM)
I wrote a longish post about this a while back, so I'll sum it up quickly here: While Big 10 expansion is clearly all about football, I think it could end up having a big effect on college basketball in the conference. Say Syracuse, Rutgers, Missouri, Nebraska, and Pittsburgh join the Big 10. That's the best basketball conference in the country by a lot. Whether that's positive or negative for college hoops in general is hard to say. The same teams will still be competing for the same NCAA tournament title. They'll just be doing it with different patches on their jerseys. (It would be undoubtedly bad for the Big East, though.)
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
You put the Eamonn in my Brennan. I always loved Denny Crum's hair. Who has the best 'do in CBB Coaching now?
Eamonn Brennan (3:01 PM)
Herb Sendek. (OK, that's kinda mean. I apologize.) Let's go with Jamie Dixon. Everybody good with that?
Could the Big Ten win the challenge over the ACC again this year?
Eamonn Brennan (3:03 PM)
Sure. I think the Big Ten is easily the better conference in 2010, and the match ups for the ACC-Big Ten bear that out.
jordan (boonville, Indiana)
michigan state, purdue, and duke are clearly the favorites to win it all next year. Outside of those three, who would be a "so-called" sleeper team that could win it? (please dont say butler)
Eamonn Brennan (3:05 PM)
It really is wide open after that top three. I'd go with Kansas and Kansas State as my next two title-worthy teams -- hardly sleepers, I know, but I don't think there are many sleepers to be had in 2010-11. Both teams return some experience, both teams have athletic front lines, and both teams will have a star or two in the backcourt. That's as good a template as you'll find outside Duke, MSU, and Purdue.
Do you see a lot of pressure on Seth Greenberg to get Va Tech back to the dance? He brings back basically everyone from last year, including Delaney. He has no excuse not to make it, but he's in a pretty comfortable position with a long contract, perhaps discouraging action in case of another near miss.
Eamonn Brennan (3:09 PM)
There's always pressure to make the tournament, but I don't think Seth Greenberg's job will hang in the balance if the Hokies suffer another near miss. If I was Virginia Tech's athletics director, I'd be putting more pressure on Greenberg to schedule tougher non--conference games, and then I'd be putting more pressure on him not to complain about the selection committee snub on national television after my team played one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country. But, you know, that's just me.
Steve (Austin, TX)
Eamonn, Oklahoma is coming off a very disapointing season and have had to deal with alot of the off the court stuff. What is their outlook for 2010-2011?
Eamonn Brennan (3:10 PM)
Three letters: "Ick." Things are going to get much worse before they get better, both from an NCAA standpoint -- the alleged Tiny Gallon fiasco could be a seriously coffin-nail scenario as far as NCAA sanctions are concerned -- and on the court, where Capel has replaced a bunch of McDonald's All-Americans with hastily recruited also-rans. It's going to be a tough season for OU hoops fans. (But hey, at least you guys have football, right?)
Mr. Pump (CA)
Hey Eamonn, do you have a good source for tickets? My previous source may have some issues....
Eamonn Brennan (3:11 PM)
(Not touching this with a ten-foot pixelated Internet pole.)
Dave (East Lansing)
What's the lastest word on Chris Allen at Michigan State? There were a lot of rumors out there that he is transferring...
Eamonn Brennan (3:13 PM)
It appears those rumors have calmed down, and that Allen will be back with the Spartans in 2010-11. They were never particularly realistic rumors in the first place. Allen is a junior. Did he really want to get away from East Lansing so much that he'd be willing to sit out an entire year just to play one final year of eligibility? The cost-benefit doesn't add up.
do u think coach cal will still be coaching UK next season?
Eamonn Brennan (3:15 PM)
Yes, I do. At this point, you have to take his word, and he's stated -- well, tweeted -- that he will be the coach at Kentucky next season. There's no real wiggle room there. So you have to believe him. Besides, it's entirely possible the LeBron-Cal-Worldwide Wes situation is a little overblown. It's no secret Calipari wants to get back to the NBA, but does he want to do it as LeBron's tagalong? I kind of doubt it.
Sheraine [Lower East Side] [via mobile]
What's Sherron Collins doing with his life?
Eamonn Brennan (3:15 PM)
Ideally, Sherron would be sneaking into the bottom half of the NBA draft's first round. Realistically, he's probably a second-round guy.
Follow up to the mid-major question: Is there anyway to institute a "Atlantic 10 vs Mountain West Challenge" a la ACC vs. Big Ten? That would allow for at least some better non-conference games
Eamonn Brennan (3:17 PM)
Dan, my son, that is a pretty tremendous idea. I'll take it to the NCAA Common Sense High Council (it must exist, because the tournament is only expanding to 68 teams) and demand they force those conference commissioners to make it happen.
Duke is the consensus #1, but seems people always overrate talent/upside at the point guard in place of experience. They'll be good, but the dropoff from Scheyere to Curry/Irving will certainly be felt in crunch time. Don't see them repeating, your thoughts?
Eamonn Brennan (3:19 PM)
Ah, but you're forgetting Nolan Smith. If Irving and Curry struggle -- which is entirely possible; college basketball is hard -- Smith can plausibly take over point guard responsibilities in crunch time. And with Singler and the Plumlees up front, Duke should be just fine.
Ponce (New York, NY)
Hey Eamonn, how would you grade Lavin's first month on the job? Looks like he's bringing in some talent from the west coast, and maybe St. John's can make a play to finish mid-pack in the Big East.
Eamonn Brennan (3:21 PM)
Some talent is correct. Lavin isn't overwhelming recruiting types with his hauls at St. John's, but in the short time he's been on the job, he's done well. Perhaps most important, Lavin has become a fantastic PR face for the program. He's a household college hoops name thanks to his time on the teletubes. He's engaging, open, interesting, thoughtful -- the New York media already loves him, and they ought to. If he wins, then look out. And if he loses? Well, it's just St. John's. Let's cut him a break! Anyway, he's done really well.
To reference Dan's question above: There's already a MVC/MWC Challenge, so some are being proactive. Just a matter of exposure, really.
Eamonn Brennan (3:23 PM)
Duh. Brain fart here. I apologize. That's probably a good template for even less exposed conferences to follow -- the CAA vs. the Horizon League, or something like that.
phil (lake forest)
any chance the hooiers return to the big dance in 2011
Eamonn Brennan (3:24 PM)
Unlikely, but they should take a major step forward. Having a healthy Maurice Creek back in the fold will be huge. Likewise for a year of weight training for big man Christian Watford. IU is still a year or two away, but they should be better than their ugly past two seasons.
Eamonn, When are you going to trim that playoff beard?
Eamonn Brennan (3:26 PM)
When the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. Next question.
Sheraine [Lower East Side] [via mobile]
One more question; do you really think Eric Bledsoe should be ranked as high as he is projected to be picked? I've heard top 25 several times, but I feel like he should be in at least top 10 or top 15 at the most.
Eamonn Brennan (3:28 PM)
I actually do. I think Bledsoe was overlooked a little bit this season at Kentucky. It's hard to stand out when you're playing next to John Wall, not to mention Bledsoe, a point guard prospect during his recruitment, was playing off the ball for the first time in his life. But he's quick, athletic, can shoot from the perimeter, and has a pretty good feel for the point guard spot. A mid-first-round pick doesn't seem outrageous here.
With all the talent that left the BE and college basketball as a whole this year who do you see being BE POY and National POY?
Eamonn Brennan (3:31 PM)
For Big East player of the year, let's go with Ashton Gibbs. Should be even better in his junior season, and he's likely to have that whole "best player on the best team" thing going for him. As for national player of the year, the safe money is on Kyle Singler. JaJuan Johnson or Robbie Hummel could be interesting prospects. And if the Spartans don't struggle too much out of the gate, Kalin Lucas could make a push. Unlike last year, I don't think we have a national player of the year candidate coming from the high school ranks. But I'd love to be wrong.
Eamonn Brennan (3:34 PM)
All right then, I think that's going to wrap it up. The questions are starting to slow down, and I should probably get back to the blog before it begins gathering dust. You know how it is. Those blogs. So hard to maintain. As always, it was fun, and I'll see you next time on ... The Chat Is Right! (Sorry.)