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 (4:29 PM)
Hey, sorry for the late arrival. I don't have a note, unfortunately. What are we talking about today?
Dan (Sheboygan, WI)
How high of a seed do you see Green Bay getting this year if the finish the regular season 29-1.
Graham Hays (4:31 PM)
I thought for a minute yesterday the Phoenix were going to allow fewer points against Youngstown State than the Packers were in the Super Bowl. As to 29-1, it would depend a lot on what happens around them -- because of the Horizon League, Green Bay's seeding fate is basically out of its hands at this point. But with a few breaks, maybe a No. 4 might be in play. Charlie Creme has them at a No. 5 right now, and that seems more likely.
A Mercer (flagstaff, az)
Graham, have you been impressed by the recent play of Uconn's Stef Dolson?
Graham Hays (4:33 PM)
Really impressed. Connecticut is a small team at this point -- still a good rebounding team and a physical team when the need arises, but small all the same, with basically three guards and Maya Moore out there at any one time. But Dolson gives them a legitimate offensive post presence, something that a lot of teams with a surplus of big bodies can't claim.
Linsey (Sterling Heights MI)
Who do you think will win the Big Ten Title?
Graham Hays (4:37 PM)
Thursday's Michigan State-Penn State game in State College may have a lot to do with deciding that, but even given the venue for that one, the Spartans seem to have put themselves in position. No matter what happens Thursday, they have a good schedule to finish up, only traveling to Illinois and Minnesota. At this point, I'm not sure we've seen anything out of the rest of the league that suggests enough consistency for a late run.
kevin (macon ga)
Who's your national freshperson of the year?
Graham Hays (4:41 PM)
Was just having this conversation over the weekend. Short answer is I'm not sure, but the names that came to mind first were Odyssey Sims and Aaryn Ellenberg out of the Big 12. Ellenberg's quick adjustment was so important for Oklahoma during the time Hand was out, and Sims' value is equally self-evident. Then the Big East has its own interesting race with Shoni Schimmel and Bria Hartley. Maggie Lucas from Penn State, Meighan Simmons from Tennessee, both deserving to be in the race. I'd lean Sims at this point, I guess, but it needs more study.
A Mercer (flagstaff, az)
I'm enjoying this year's version of women's college basketball because there's less predictability about who's going to win. Last year I knew Uconn would win everything. This year anyone of 4-5 teams have a shot at winning it all.
Graham Hays (4:42 PM)
I'd agree with that. The first weekend of the tournament should also be fun (in this case, like last season) because I'm not sure there's much separation between about 10 and 40 at this point.
Matt (San Francisco)
Is the Pac-10 really the weakest of the major conferences this year?
Graham Hays (4:46 PM)
Tough call, and unfortunately, not because there is a shortage of candidates. The SEC probably skates on the strength of Tennessee, with the Kentucky/Georgia crowd good enough as the second tier, although I'm not sure that's any better than the Pac-10, with Stanford at the top and UCLA in the Kentucky role. It's tough to know what the Big Ten is, either pretty good and extremely balanced or equally not-so-good. I guess I'd say I don't think any one conference is worst by a wide margin.
A Mercer (flagstaff, az)
Is Maya Moore the runaway best player of the year? Is that a rhetorical question?
Graham Hays (4:48 PM)
Probably. Under the thought process that Brittney Griner has two more years to win it, I don't see Moore losing a lot of votes.
What are your thoughts on the University of Houston? Can they make the tournament without winning their conference tourney?
Graham Hays (4:51 PM)
Yes, although it probably doesn't have a heck of a lot of wiggle room. The RPI is still good, and I think they would get some consideration for losing to Georgetown and Lamar without Courtney Taylor. But if you start talking about multiple losses down the stretch, things can change in a hurry.
Great AP article on the #25 Lady Red Foxes, assuming they run the table in the MAAC and heavens forbid the lose the final are they in the dance as an at large?
Graham Hays (4:54 PM)
Doug Feinberg does an outstanding job for the AP, so no surprise there. But you raise a great question. The RPI just isn't there, and it's not going to get better in the MAAC. But if they run the table in conference and have those three wins in Vegas against Louisville, Houston and Nebraska, don't they pass the eye test? Sure seems like it.
The way I look at UCONN this year is like when lebron james was with the cavs, the did great regular season but come playoff time the couldnt win a championship. The only big star uconn has is maya moore, with no depth on there bench.But you go to stanford and they have more then one star and they have bench. I dont think uconn will win this year and i think it will be stanford. What do you think about uconn and stanford?
Graham Hays (4:58 PM)
If you took Moore off Connecticut, I don't think Hayes, Hartley, Faris, Dolson and Dixon are losing 23 in a row. But I see what you're getting at with the analogy. Hartley has been a little slow of late because of an injury, but once all the streak hullabaloo was over and done with, the story for UConn is how much Hartley, Dolson and Faris are developing. Every team is going to be better in March than it was in December, but if Moore gets taken out of a game in March, Connecticut will have players who could step up and win a game. Whether or not they will is another matter, but the talent is there.
Ron Pfeifer (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
What are the biggest surprises to you in this season so far?
Graham Hays (5:03 PM)
DePaul rates as a positive surprise. There was talent there, but it felt a little like it was never going to get a chance to be on the court together. Watching them Saturday, along with the earlier results like the Stanford win, that really seems like a team that could get to a regional final. Penn State would be another positive surprise, and its former home, the A-10, has been a pleasant surprise in just how deep and competitive it is. On the flip side, I wasn't sold on Ohio State as a title team, but I sure didn't see this coming. And the Mountain West feels like a bit of a disappointment to me. I thought that was going to be more like the A-10 has been.
Glenn (Jax, FL)
With the way the season is unfolding, who are your picks for first team all americans at this point? And who do you think is underperforming?
Graham Hays (5:08 PM)
Another topic that was broached in the long drive to Storrs over the weekend. Refusing to go by position requirements, I'd go Maya Moore and Brittney Griner as the obvious choices, and then Courtney Vandersloot, Danielle Robinson and maybe Amber Harris? The last spot is tough. I'd be really tempted to get Jeanette Pohlen or Danielle Adams in there.
Can you see Tennessee getting a number 1 seed? Even though we have losses against Georgetown and Baylor.
Graham Hays (5:10 PM)
Absolutely. Texas A&M is still in the mix to me, but it probably comes down to Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Stanford and Tennessee in alphabetical order. Baylor and UConn have the toughest leagues but also the biggest cushions. Of the other three, Duke probably has a greater chance to lose again than the Lady Vols or Cardinal.
kevin (macon ga)
I look at the SEC and I see just three solid tournament teams: Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia. Is it possible those are the only teams to make it?
Graham Hays (5:12 PM)
Definitely possible. Vanderbilt still looks like a tournament team to me, but it has a tough stretch coming, with three of four against Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Tony (Emporia (KS))
It seems that week by week UCONN is slowly inching closer to Baylor in both polls. It seems that a UCONN win by 20 is worth more than a Baylor win by 40. Right now, from your observation, out of Baylor, UCONN, and Stanford, who would win it all? People are saying Baylor could not handle the Ogwumike sisters or the combination of Pohlen/Pedersen. Baylor doesnt seem to be getting any respect even as the #1 team in the country because everyone wants to see either a UCONN-STANFORD or a UCONN-Tennessee matchup. Does Griner have to dunk every game for people to respect them? What's up with that?
Graham Hays (5:16 PM)
I don't get that sense. I don't know anyone that's discounting Baylor as a championship contender or who thinks a rematch with Moore and Griner would be a bad final matchup. I think Baylor deserves to be No. 1 right now, but given the result of the game in Hartford, I can see why people would build a case for reversing them. I'm not going to pretend to be smart enough to know which of those three teams is the best. I don't have any idea and I'd probably pick a different winner every day.
kevin (macon ga)
Vanderbilt? With no top 25 wins and three sub-100 losses, how do they look like a tournament team?
Graham Hays (5:18 PM)
I think they're a good enough team to win the games they would need to win down the stretch to make their current RPI stand up. Not saying they would be in at this moment.
Kevin McCaffrey (Connecticut)
After watching Maya Moore against Duke and Depaul, I think she has taken her game to another level. What is your view? It is looking like UCONN and Stanford will meet again in semi-final game? Can UCONN give them a game on neutral court?
Graham Hays (5:22 PM)
Oops, I was trying to post another question from Kevin, but what the heck. I don't know about another level, but she does seem locked in. It's interesting she's probably already been in more close-and-late situations this season than in her previous three seasons, certainly the last two seasons. That obviously wasn't the case against Duke or DePaul, but I wonder if the Baylor, Notre Dame, Stanford games will end up making her that much better come March.
What do you think UNC has to do to be able to win tonight's game against duke?...Who do you think the key players are?...Who do you think will win?
Graham Hays (5:25 PM)
Rebound. The Tar Heels have been surprisingly, or at least unusually, good at taking care of the ball over the scope of the whole season, but this seems like a game where you almost have to factor around 20 turnovers into the gameplan. If that's the case, they have to get second chances.
Graham Hays (5:26 PM)
All right, have to run. But thanks for all the questions. I will endeavor to be on time next week.