Chat with Graham Hays
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com women's college basketball writer Graham Hays will be here to chat about the women's season.
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 Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Graham Hays (4:01 PM)
If it's Monday, we must be chatting. Thanks for stopping for another week. What's on your minds?
Doug (waco, texas)
With Brittany Griner, Odyssey Sims, two All American transfers and Baylor holding a solid top 10 spot in both polls for two seasons is it felt at a national level that Kim Mulkey has established a program the likes of Tennessee, Stanford or Uconn?
Graham Hays (4:05 PM)
I'd say probably the team that is at the top of the next tier. That's not a slight to Baylor, it's just that the other three you mentioned have been in that position for longer and have something Baylor doesn't in multiple championships. You could throw Duke in that second group, even without a title, but yeah, I think in keeping Baylor as prominent as she has since winning the title, Mulkey has the program on the cusp of joining those three. Which, of course, makes tomorrow's game against Tennessee all the more interesting. So thanks for setting me up for that plug, Doug (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
ND has 3 losses, St. Johns has a bad loss to K State and has looked shaky against cupcakes, Georgetown beat Tennessee but lost to Mizzou, RU and The U, is the Big East under Uconn not as good as everyone thought or will someone step up?
Graham Hays (4:09 PM)
How good did everyone think it was? I think there's still plenty there. West Virginia looks like a legit top-10 team to me. Notre Dame is young but has a lot of potential. Louisville looked fantastic to me against Dayton over the weekend and beat Kentucky. Marquette hung with UConn for a half in Storrs and beat a really good Green Bay team yesterday. DePaul looks good. To your point, I'm not sure how many teams we're looking at with the potential to get to Indianapolis, but it could be a really interesting fight for 2-8.
Sue (Durham, NC)
It was great meeting you in person in Durham! I know the Duke frosh haven't knocked off anybody's socks statistically. But, having seen them in person, how well do you think they're doing in living up to being the #1 ranked recruiting class in the country? Certainly with three senior leaders, it makes sense (and is actually a good thing for the team) for the scoring, passing and rebounding to be shared as it has been.
Graham Hays (4:13 PM)
Thanks for stopping by and saying hello, Sue. Press row at Cameron isn't easy to navigate, and now I know Chelsea Gray is "The Closer" (assuming Kyra Sedgwick doesn't mind). You're right about the stats, but that's the nature of a roster as deep as Duke's. Chelsea Gray really impressed me against A&M. And more importantly, she really impressed Gary Blair, whose endorsement might mean a bit more. The rest of them seem to be finding their way (Chloe Wells also had some good moments in limited minutes that game), but Duke doesn't need any of them to be go-to players. It would be good if one or two of them could step up as consistent offensive threats, given the trouble the Blue Devils sometimes have shooting the ball. Gray looks ready to do that, and maybe Wells or Haley Peters comes on strong, too.
Matt (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Why does Texas get preseason attention and rankings every year? They prove every year they don't deserve them. How long until they quit getting the benefit of the doubt?
Graham Hays (4:17 PM)
So I'm getting the sense you weren't wowed yesterday against Tennessee, Matt? I don't think many people are going to argue that Texas has overachieved in the last few years (or the last decade), but I'm not that down on them. They aren't good enough to beat Stanford or Tennessee right now, especially without Cokie Reed, but that doesn't eliminate them from being in that 20-25 range , which is about where they were ranked preseason, right? (nor does the Michigan State loss, for that matter). I'm interested to see how they fare against teams like Cincy and USF coming up -- teams they should beat but tougher competition than some of their non-con games to this point.
kevin (macon ga)
Which Texas A&M player is a better WNBA prospect: Danielle Adams or Sydney Colson?
Graham Hays (4:20 PM)
If you could count on Colson's body holding up, I'd lean that way -- she has the kind of point guard game that just feels like it's only going to get better with age and wisdom (I'm told the two are supposed to go hand in hand, although I continue to defy it). But that just doesn't seem like something you can count on. Adams probably is who she is, in terms of body type, but with her touch, hands and basketball instincts, she could help someone.
Your thoughts on Ohio State's loss at Syracuse? Is Ohio State good enough to stop UCONN's streak this weekend?
Graham Hays (4:24 PM)
I'll be honest; it stunned me. I was thinking through the ways Ohio State's personnel could cause matchup problems for UConn and then they go and get hammered on the boards against the Orange. There are ways -- an All-American in the middle, a point guard with the ability to go off offensively and a good collection of athletes and all-around role players -- that the Buckeyes can earn comparisons to Baylor. But between the recent postseason history and Saturday's game, is Ohio State mentally tough enough to stay with UConn? They definitely haven't shown themselves to be Baylor-esque in that respect just yet.
Ti Hua (NJ)
Graham, What do you make of the inconsistent Rutgers Scarlet Knights? They knock off #11 Georgetown easily but then fall to #25 Boston College. It seems like our trademark defense is not there yet. On the positive side, April Sykes seems to finally be living up to expectations.
Graham Hays (4:26 PM)
Haven't seen them yet, but from the numbers, I'd agree with you that it at least appears the defense isn't at its normal level yet. That said, I'm probably more excited to see the A&M-Rutgers game Sunday than the UConn-Ohio State nightcap. I'm really curious what this Rutgers team has because it sure looks like it has way more offensive options with Oliver, Sykes, Wheeler, etc. than most teams on the outside of the top 25. Depth still seems like an issue, but on a one-game basis, this looks like a team that could surprise some people here and there.
Skylar Diggins is a great guard and a future all american, but it seems like something is amiss with her and Notre Dame this year.
Graham Hays (4:31 PM)
You think so? How so? They've got a lot of young pieces, either freshmen or returnees playing new/expanded roles, so my inclination is to give them the benefit of the doubt early in the season. The UCLA loss is the only one that jumps out at me, and that only because it was in South Bend. I actually find myself more and more inclined to think the Irish could put things together by March, so I'd be interested to hear your take on the other side of things.
Sdstate will be taking down Az state and Iowa this weekend, you should be there?
Graham Hays (4:33 PM)
I agree; I should be there. And I'd love to be in Brookings to see the Hawkeyes and Sun Devils come through South Dakota State. Unfortunately, the shindig at Madison Square Garden on Sunday scuttled those plans.
What Freshman have impressed you the most (so far anyways) in the season and what do you like about what they bring to their team? Also, If UT can knock off Baylor and Stanford...how far would they move up in the rankings? Would they jump over Duke & Xavier and claim the #2 spot? Thanks!
Graham Hays (4:36 PM)
Don't think I'm breaking any ground with most of these. Odyssey Sims, Meighan Simmons, Bria Hartley, Chelsea Gray. Jordan Hooper, Shoni Schimmel and Oklahoma's duo of Aaryn Ellenberg and Morgan Hook. Seeing the improvement for the latter two just from the opener at Milwaukee through yesterday's game against New Mexico (even on an off day for Ellenberg) was impressive. Seems like they bring a lot of the same things to the Sooners that Caroline Doty and Tiffany Hayes brought to UConn as a freshman tandem. Middle Tennessee State's Ebony Rowe is in that mix, too (you knew Rick Insell was going to find someone he could coach into an All-American). And I'm eager to see Ole Miss' Valencia McFarland, although it was another Mississippi player that one SEC freshman of the week honors this week.
Graham Hays (4:37 PM)
And yes, if Tennessee beats Baylor and Stanford, they should jump to No. 2.
Following up to the Notre Dame question, it seems that their post game is a little suspect. Devereaux Peters is gimpy and Achonwa is showing promise, but still a freshman. I had higher expectations for them so far, I've been pretty big on Diggins and I oftern wonder how she woud've fared if she landed at Stanford.
Graham Hays (4:38 PM)
Yeah, that's a scary thought. Imagine her feeding the ball to all those bigs and letting setting up Pohlen for open 3-pointers. Talk about a team that could win 88 in a row. And you make good points on the post. Notre Dame needs Peters at something close to her pre-injury form.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
I asked Voepel the same question, like your take. Do you think the WNBA and WCBB needs a definative voice (Like the NFL has Madden, MCBB Dickie V, NHL Emerick, NBA Marv, MLB Had Mel Allen and now has Tim McCarver) and if so who could become that voice (either PBP or anylist)
Graham Hays (4:42 PM)
I'll sound like a company shill, but I think the voices we've got on games are really good. And whoever she's calling games for, Debbie Antonelli is fantastic. I will say it bums me out that the NBA stole Doris Burke. I watch way more women's basketball than men's college or NBA, so it's a very biased opinion, but I think she's the best color analyst in the sport.
After watching the Lady Vols somewhat up and down start to the season, would you still say that they can contend for a national title?
Graham Hays (4:45 PM)
Definitely. Thinking about this yesterday, if someone got out of their DeLorean and told me they had just come from April and Team X won the title, it wouldn't really shock me if it was any of the following: UConn, Stanford, Baylor, Duke, Tennessee or Xavier. There are just so many ways Pat Summitt can put that team out on the court and so many people that can get hot and score on a given day.
hey grham just wanted to ask. am i the only one who thinks sam prahalis is overrated? to me i dont think we will see how good she is until she can lead a team without lavender.
Graham Hays (4:49 PM)
That's a bit harsh to my mind. I had her as the No. 3 point guard behind Courtney Vandersloot and Danielle Robinson, and it was a photo finish between the three. We've got to remember, she's only just crossed the halfway point of her college career. Seems like it's easier for someone who has the talent to make any play to learn which ones to try and make, as opposed to trying to teach someone how to do the things she can do physically. But like quarterbacks in football, sure, point guards are probably going to be judged on results more than anyone else on the court.
We've seen many great freshman guards this year: Odyssey Sims, Bria Hartley, Meighan Simmons, Shoni Schimmel, Kristen Doherty etc...Who is your favorite?
Graham Hays (4:51 PM)
Ah, thanks for mentioning Doherty. I left her off that list earlier (along with probably 5-10 other worthy names). I'm sticking with Sims. For a freshman to play like she did in Hartford against Connecticut that early in the season, I'll tune in any chance I get for the next four seasons.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
On Prahalis, does her taunting and brash behavior add to the questioning of her play?
Graham Hays (4:54 PM)
Absolutely. I've only seen a small number of Ohio State games out of her whole resume, and I can't remember seeing anything I thought crossed a line. But she plays with a lot of attitude. If that's who you are on the court, it's fine by me. A lot of great players play cocky. But yes, it's going to make it easier for people to pick at you.
Joel (Niagara Falls/Buffalo) [via mobile]
Mr. Hays, Basketball isn't my top sport, so can you give me an idea of how the really smart hoops people are comparing the UConn women's streak the UCLA 88 ? Thank you.
Graham Hays (4:57 PM)
Afraid I can't help you with what smart hoops people think. But for me, it's significant as an athletic feat alongside UCLA's streak, not compared to it. Like some of UNC's streaks in women's soccer or Penn State's in women's volleyball or any other sport you want to pick, it would signify an astounding accomplishment over a long period of time. Trying to figure out if it's better, worse or similar to the specifics of UCLA"s streak is, to me, a useless exercise bordering on destructive.
while watching the tenn game yesterday the were mentioning tenn always playing a tough sched. i looked at it and insted of the baylor and stanford games whats so tough about it? uconn easily plays a better schedule.
Graham Hays (5:00 PM)
Some of them aren't as strong this season as in recent seasons, but when you've got Arizona State, Virginia, Louisville, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Texas on there, in addition to Baylor/Stanford, you're scheduling tough. I'd agree that UConn's tougher this season, but that's partly because of circumstances for Tennessee. That was my reading of what they were saying, not that Tennessee's is necessarily the toughest this particular season.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
A little funtime, if 30 for 30 went to you and asked you for one story to do a film on for WCBB, which would you choose?
Graham Hays (5:03 PM)
Good one to close on, and my editor is rolling her eyes, knowing exactly where I'm going with this one. I'd choose Jackie Stiles, and it's not even close. The more you look at the current power structure in the sport, the more amazing it is she got Southwest Missouri State to a Final Four as recently as she did. And then to tack on an initially promising WNBA career with the Fire derailed by injuries, it's a perfect 30/30. Somehow I don't imagine it will ever get the nod, but I'd volunteer my services for free in a heartbeat.
Graham Hays (5:04 PM)
All right, thanks for all the questions. Don't forget: Tennessee-Baylor tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.