Chat with Gary Blair
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, Texas A&M women's basketball coach Gary Blair stops by to help celebrate Jimmy V Week here at ESPN.
In the 18 years since The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the foundation has raised more than $100 million. The V Foundation started with the dream of Valvano, the former NC State basketball coach and award-winning broadcaster, as he battled cancer. For more information, or to donate to the V Foundation, call 1-800-4-JimmyV or go here. Every cent of every donation goes directly to cancer research.
In 2003, Blair took over a Texas A&M team that hadn't had a winning season in seven years. Over the past four seasons, the Aggies have a record of 107-31, the best four-year mark in school history.
9th Annual Women's Jimmy V Basketball Classic features Duke vs. Texas A&M.
Send your questions now and join Blair Friday at noon ET!
Alex (Baton Rouge)
What team is the most challenging for the Aggies?
Gary Blair (11:58 AM)
Always our next opponent and the next two will be against Cal and at Duke. Duke is 8-0 and 5-0 on the road. They have a great senior class and one of the best freshman classes in the country. We have to get ready to play in their crazy atmosphere at Duke. It's my second time there and it should be a good one.
Tina (Dallas, TX)
What is the most important thing that you want to teach your student athletes?
Gary Blair (12:00 PM)
I think the whole college experience is so special. It's not just about being a player. It's about being a young person growing up between the ages of 18-22. There will be some ups and downs and I want to be there to help them make those good decisions. We have a t-shirt that says "making good decisions" and that's a motto that me live by. We have some great leaders in Sydney Carter and Sydney Colson that lead the way for our team. And when these girls walk away from Texas A
Ellen (College Station)
How many minutes do you think Colson will be able to play in the upcoming games against Cal and Duke?
Gary Blair (12:02 PM)
I hope a lot more than what she has been playing. We held her out because she has a foot problem but she's looking good in practice. We look for her to start in this ball game but we will have to monitor her minutes a lot more than what we usually do. She sparks our offense; she shoots the ball well and is good in transition. This is her senior year and I know WNBA scouts will be at the game looking at both our players as well as the Duke seniors.
Daniel (Houston, TX)
What part of Jimmy V's message resonates with you the most?
Gary Blair (12:08 PM)
I sat there watching the NC State and Houston game and I felt for Jimmy V. The best team doesn't always win, the team that plays the best that day wins and Jimmy got his boys ready to play that day. If his speech doesn't get you, then nothing will. No matter if you are an athlete or fighting cancer, the message of not giving up no matter what has to stick with you. Johnny Lyon, one of our season ticket holders and country music star recently passed away from cancer. He was at our Halloween party a couple of weeks ago and he didn't know how much time he had left but he didn't give up on life. We play Purdue next week, and one of their players Drey Mingo just came down with meningitis. So no matter if it's cancer or something else, you can't give up fighting. You have to live your life. My best wishes go out to Mingo and the Purdue program. I wish her a speedy recovery.
Sara (Greensboro, NC)
What does your team have to do in order to win at Duke?
Gary Blair (12:10 PM)
We have to stop their transition game. In our first game, we won by 18 but the game was a lot closer than what the score said. We have to play steady and control the turnovers. We can't have unforced turnovers, we have to play good defense and stay out of foul trouble.
Michael (El Paso, TX)
What do you tell your team if anything about the importance of playing in the 9th Annual Women's Jimmy V Classic?
Gary Blair (12:12 PM)
I think we start thinking about the cause and what it represents. It's not just about basketball, it's about giving back. Particularly on the women's side because breast cancer is so prominent. We have to get the word out there. It's such an honor for us to be selected to play in the 9th Annual Women's Jimmy V Classic.
What's the hardest thing about being a coach?
Gary Blair (12:16 PM)
(Laughing) Coaching is the easiest thing I do. There are just so many things you can be; a mentor, a teacher, a gopher. We have to realize that as coaches, we are here to help young people and young people need to know that they are here to get an education and learn. The WNBA isn't going to make you rich so you have to have something else to fall back on. I love it when my girls call me after they leave the program telling me about their nursing jobs or about their family life. I think it's very special that you develop a family atmosphere and that that family continues to stick together.
I love Maya Moore...who do you think is the best women's college basketball player?
Gary Blair (12:20 PM)
Well Chris if I were you, I would find a way to marry Maya Moore. She is the best women's college basketball player in today's game. UConn has put women's college basketball on the map. Not just last year but in years past. They have set the bar with players like Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles and a host of others. Now are the beatable this year? Like Geno said they will lose at some point this season and I agree. We will get a first hand look at UConn when we play in New York and Madison Square Garden in the Maggie Dixon Classic when we take on Rutgers. If UConn keeps winning, their game that night against Ohio State could possibly be their 88th win. It will be a part of history. But the Maya Moore's, Candace Parker's and Sydney Colson's of our game make it possible for young women to not have to always look at male players. These girls have done a lot for our game and will continue to do so.
Gary Blair (12:22 PM)
It was great to be here. I think women's college basketball is the best team sport going right now. We are in the grassroots right now and just like soccer, women's basketball will make it to the main stream.