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)
In lieu of a better intro, what's up?
Duke Fan (North Carolina)
Charlie Creme stated Duke's offense takes him back decades; that they need offense and not just shooting. What is your take on Duke's offense? Do they have a shot with UConn? And what happened with Vernerey's PT?
Graham Hays (4:05 PM)
The short take? It's not pretty. But I don't think that's the worst thing in the world. Ideally, it would be nice if every top team played like Connecticut and Notre Dame did on Saturday, but Duke can be enjoyable to watch in the sense of a team with a particular style executing that style to a high degree. The problem, if there is one, seems that if you play a style that brings games down to one or two possessions in the postseason, it's better to be the team with go-to offensive players. Duke has Jasmine Thomas, but I think most of the other top five or six teams are going to be more comfortable trying to win a game with one or two offensive looks.
Graham Hays (4:06 PM)
And I'm not sure on Vernerey, but I have the same question.
Graham Hays (4:08 PM)
One last thought on the Duke offense. BC's Sylvia Crawley said something interesting earlier this season, essentially saying part of the reason she believes in the up-tempo style she played at UNC and coaches at BC is because it's better for the sport -- if the game is to grow it needs to have offense. Not sure what to make of that, but it's an interesting perspective.
At this point in the season, how many SEC teams do you expect to make the tournament?
Graham Hays (4:10 PM)
Probably six? I think Tennessee, Kentucky (0-2 start notwithstanding), Arkansas, LSU and Georgia all look headed for the tourney, and I would bet either Vanderbilt or Florida (but probably not both) plays its way into that mix. It's not a great league this particular season, but it's interesting. Georgia has put together some nice games recently. I'd like to see more of them.
Arkansas' program was one of the worst in the "BCS" conferences, and Tom Collen deserves a ton of credit for the job he has done so far. Do you believe Arkansas will finish with enough SEC wins to earn a NCAA berth this season?
Graham Hays (4:13 PM)
There would be quite a fight for the title of worst program in one of those six conferences, but you won't hear me arguing against the job he's done. I do think Arkansas can make it. The win against OU was obviously huge, but the win against Middle Tennessee also provided a little more non-conference cushion than maybe this program had in seasons past. They've got a tough stretch coming at the end of the month, at Georgia and LSU and home against Tennessee, so the next couple of weeks ahead of that should reveal quite a bit.
Loved Goestenkors' coaching in the late 90s at Duke; huge Duke fan, and when she 'moved' to TX, started tracking TX. Charlie Creme has Duke vs Texas as a possible second round game. What is the possibility we finally see a TX-Duke game in Cameron?
Graham Hays (4:15 PM)
If there is a way for the NCAA to do it, I imagine it will. But after losing to Missouri over the weekend, Texas might have some work to do to keep that seed in Charlie's next update, especially with the next three, I believe, against A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma in some order? Austin would not be a pleasant place if the Longhorns somehow find themselves with a four-game Big 12 losing streak this early.
Cameron (Galesburg, IL)
Tennesse has routed their last few opponents and at this point is there any game we can look forward to in the regular season to find out if they really are contenders of pretenders, since they've already beaten Stanford and lost to Baylor?
Graham Hays (4:18 PM)
Honestly? Probably not. The game at Kentucky is probably the closest thing, assuming the Wildcats get the ship righted in time for that game. But I don't believe they play at Georgia, right? And they've already gone to Baton Rouge. I think the Lady Vols fall safely on the contender side of that equation, but if you're unsure, there isn't a lot between now and the Sweet 16 that is going to provide evidence.
With the 2011 season just around the corner, how about a quick softball question? Which non-PAC 10 school has best chance to win the CWS?
Graham Hays (4:22 PM)
Sure, although after driving by Notre Dame's softball field under a foot or two of snow on Saturday, it's tough to accept that softball is right around the corner. Outside of the Pac-10, I'm inclined to lean toward Georgia. I don't think there is a better offensive trio in the country than Taylor Schlopy, Megan Wiggins and Alisa Goler, and the rest of the lineup isn't bad, either. Pitching is always the question for Georgia, but they have some intriguing new arms and some returnees in the circle, as well. I'd throw Alabama in that mix, too. And while Oklahoma has some work to do replacing Amber Flores and Lindsey Vandever, the Sooners finally have a legit All-American-type ace in Keilani Ricketts.
Which mid-majors can get to the sweet 16
Graham Hays (4:28 PM)
Xavier will almost certainly be seeded such that it should get there. Beyond that? Gonzaga and Green Bay are the two that, to me, are built best for the postseason. In terms of performance thus far, Bowling Green and Marist are right there with them (in fact, ahead of them in the last top 10 we did). But just for the styles they play and the individual pieces, the Phoenix and Bulldogs seem best designed to knock off two teams in one weekend in the first two rounds. Duquesne is also a team whose stock is soaring and which could be a factor down the road.
Graham Hays (4:29 PM)
All right, bit of a light day, so I guess we'll drop the curtain on this edition. Thanks for the questions! Same time next week.