Chat with Fran Fraschilla
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla will drop by to take your questions.
Fraschilla 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 Fraschilla Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
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Buzzmaster (1:02 PM)
We've got Fran!
Fran Fraschilla (1:04 PM)
Hey, couple of thoughts from the last week. Condolences to the entire Marquette basketball family as former Golden Eagles coach Hank Raymonds passes away at 86. Although Al McGuire was the face of the program for many years, coach Raymonds was a critical part of their success.
Fran Fraschilla (1:05 PM)
I've watched a lot of tape this weekend and I haven't seen a better defensive block out team than Texas A-M. When a time when fundamentals are slacking, they are as good a block out team as I've seen. That's a big reason they knocked off Temple in the Old Spice Classic last week. Conversely, the Pitt Panthers are grabbing almost 50% of their own missed shots this year. That's No. 1 in the country and it will be crazy if they can keep that rate up. The Tennessee-Pittsburgh game next Saturday will be hand to hand combat, a great matchup.
Mike (San Francisco)
I think that Washington is underrated. Their two losses were to msu and ky by a combined twelve points and led both games at halftime. Do you think they have a good shot to make some noise in March?
Fran Fraschilla (1:09 PM)
They have a chance to make as much noise as the Florida A-M marching band...absolutely. I got a chance to see the Huskies over the weekend and they are impressive at all five spots. Justin Holiday could be one of the most underrated players in college basketball right now. I hate to overuse this phrase, but he is the ultimate glue guy and coming off an all-Pac 10 defensive performance a year ago. His outside shooting has markedly improved as well. The backcourt is terrific with Isaiah Thomas, Abdul Gaddy, Overton. Gaddy has lost weight, grown up. He'll only turn 19 in January and he's a sophomore and is playing like Mark Jackson at he point. I could go on and on, but there are other people in the chat. But yes, I love the Huskies.
Kemba Walker, can he keep up this torrid pace once the Big East starts?
Fran Fraschilla (1:10 PM)
I don't know if he'll average 30 points per game, but he'll certainly be the focal point of the Huskies' success this season and will have to be prolific offensively in order for UConn to play at the top of the Big East Conference. He's changing speeds better. His jump shot is more consistent and he is one of the sneakiest defensive players, good for 2-3 easy layups per game.
Scott (South Dakota)
Hey Fran - how good are the Jayhawks this year? Longtime fan, so I've been duped by some good pre-season rankings and regular season results. How "good" are they in reality? Thanks!!
Fran Fraschilla (1:13 PM)
You've been duped by regular season results? What planet have you been on? Has anybody had a better run than Bill Self? Remember, Roy Williams and Larry Brown lost NCAA tournament games as well. I really like this Kansas team. Offensively it has a lot of weapons and will certainly be improved once Josh Selby is eligible on Dec. 18. Marcus Morris just might be the most versatile forward behind Singler and his brother does great dirty work. If UCLA exposed an Achilles heel defensively last week, it was in pounding the ball inside against the twins and Thomas Robinson. Overall they are a top five team and one of my picks to get to the Final Four.
Georgetown has been impressive so far. Barring any blowup (ala past 2 seasons), how far do you see them going?
Fran Fraschilla (1:16 PM)
I've enjoyed watching the Hoyas play so far. Yes, they still run their Princeton style offense in the halfcourt, but they are terrific in transition. Their three guards are certainly on a par with anyone in the country, including Duke and Michigan State. If Vaughn, Sims and Lubick can hold down the fort defensively, and get some points, they can go a long way in March.
While not overly impressive in their win over Butler, Duke was coming off a 2 week stretch of beating Marquette and KState in KC, flying to Portland to beat Oregon, coming home to face Michigan State, and then heading to NJ to beat Butler. All in all very impressive. Any major issues to be concerned about?
Fran Fraschilla (1:20 PM)
Their major issues would be strengths on most teams. Coach K would love for Mason Plumlee to play like Christian Laettner most nights, but that's not going to happen. He's not going to get 25 and 12 each game out like he did against Marquette. If he did play that well, we'd be looking at the Duke teams that won it back to back in 1991-91. As it stands, it's hard to see more than 2 regular season losses on its schedule. Only the rematch with UNC would scare me if I was a Dukie. I wouldn't rule out games at Florida State and Maryland either, although neither team has even close to Duke's firepower. Let's sit back and see how the season plays out, because it wouldn't be out of the question for them to be undefeated going into the NCAA tournament. Remember, the ACC is WAY down this season.
Has Billy D lost his mojo? Brandon Knight and Austin Rivers decided to go elsewhere after being almsot certain locks for UF, and now a team that was supposed to make a run at the final 4 this year seems stuck in mediocrity....again...
Fran Fraschilla (1:22 PM)
Their guard play scared the daylights out of me coming into the season. Boynton is a high volume shooting combo guard who is very inconsistent and Erving Walker doesn't do enough at his size to have an impact on the game. I also think that Billy D's veteran big men have been disappointing and it won't surprise me if Erik Murphy and Patric Young are getting major minutes as the season wears on. It's a young team that could really use Bradley Beals outside shooting a year from now.
Fran, thoughts on the job Steve Donahue has done already at BC? He's a breath of fresh air around here after the years of Skinner.
Fran Fraschilla (1:24 PM)
Al Skinner certainly had his share of success, but some times a breath of fresh air is good for everybody. What has impressed me is outside of the loss to Yale they have won games they were supposed to win. This week's Providence and Maryland games will tell us more about this team, but there's enough veteran experience led by Jackson that leads me to think that the Eagles will finish in the top half of the ACC.
Chad Wilkerson (Greensboro)
You have coached against Syracuse and you are an expert on the Big 12. As a player, I was taught that Zone defense is a "crutch" and that good teams play primarily man to man. Syracuse and now Baylor are having great success with the 2-3 zone. What is your opinion on this as your primary defense? As a young coach, should I consider teaching more zone to my AAU and High school teams? Thanks Coach Fran!!!
Fran Fraschilla (1:27 PM)
Chad, you are right, some teams use it as a crutch, but that's not the case with Baylor and Syracuse. Here are a couple of things to ponder. First, both teams, have enjoyed success with the zone, because of the athleticism and average overall height of their teams. Baylor's 22 feet worth of wingspan on the back line allows it to very effectively challenge opponents' 3-point shooting. Also, few teams spend as much time or has as many plays against a zone defense as they do against man to man, so it's easier to scout opponents. Thirdly, because they trap in the short corners, behind the basket, teams are reluctant to throw the ball down there, so it takes away a part of the court that is usually effective for the offense. Finally, both Jim Boeheim and Scott Drew have created a confidence in the defense on the part of their players and have turned it into a defensive weapon.
Fran Fraschilla (1:27 PM)
Good question on your part.
Can you give me your thoughts on Tobias Harris? Obviously he's got some game, but is it game enough for him to be one and done at UT?
Fran Fraschilla (1:30 PM)
Very few players in this draft are good enough to be one and done players, particularly among the outstanding crop of freshmen. In the "old days" Harris would be a 3-4 year college player and be very ready for the jump to the NBA. Times have changed. While I love Harris' game and mental approach, it wouldn't shock me if he and a number of freshmen enter the NBA draft early. That's been the pattern for the last decade or so. Can he help a good NBA team right now? No. Is he Blake Griffin? Emphatically no. Would he get drafted in the top 20? Yes. Like baseball, will he spend time in the minor leagues? Probably. Overall he's a great prospect.
JP (Columbus, OH)
Fran, Cincinnati has really been crushing teams lately (Dayton by 34)...but their OOC schedule is also pretty weak and could lend itself to a misleading 14-0 or 15-0 record. Have you watched Cronin's guys play yet, and what do you think they can achieve this year? A Big Dance invite would be a big improvement.
Fran Fraschilla (1:32 PM)
I have watched Cincinnati. While some of their wins have been against less than quality opponents, the Dayton score jumped out at me. This is a team that will be able to go 9-10 deep. My hope for the Bearcats is if they stay on this run into January, that they will see more fan support at the Shoe. Nobody was a bigger fan of Bob Huggins than I was at UC, but coach Cronin has picked this team off the deck and doing a nice job. Of course, at the level Cincy plays at, nothing will matter until conference play.
Hey Fran, thanks for chatting!How about Tony Bennett's Wahoos this past week?! Winning a big non-conference game on the road at Minnesota and then taking their ACC opener in Blacksburg...How impressed are you with his young bunch of Cavs?
Fran Fraschilla (1:35 PM)
Mike, first of all I've always been impressed with Tony Bennett, both as a player and as a head coach. I was worried about them when they dropped three of four, although losses to Washington and Wichita will prove to be quality losses. One thing I know is that UVA teams are going to play smart and their assist/turnover ratio is very solid right now. When you combine taking care of the ball with shooting the three as well as they do and play solid defense, they're going to be an interesting team come conference time. Mike Scott's averaging a double-double and I love the freshman Harris, Baron and Harrell. The rebuilding project is underway.
Fran Fraschilla (1:38 PM)
One last thought on the Kansas-UCLA game. As a former coach, all I asked is the officials blow the whistle from the start of the game to the end of the game. While the foul call on UCLA was unfortunate, you can't ask the official to play God and worry about the time, score, where the game's being played and who is playing. All he can do is blow the whistle when his eyes see a foul. Keep in mind that UCLA was in the double bonus and when someone says let the players decide the game, all I can think of is that if they hadn't committed a number of silly fouls in the second half, that even if the call was correct, Kansas would get the ball out of bounds with a limited liklihood that they would have scored. Players do decide games and not just because they make or miss shots, but because they foul some times as well. It doesn't take away from a great effort by the Bruins. Unfortunately, their minds were probably still on that game Thursday night when they lost to Montana Sunday night.
Buzzmaster (1:39 PM)