Chat with Dana O'Neil
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil stops by to chat on her latest articly, one in which former Villanova star Will Sheridan tells his story of being gay and being a Division I athlete.
O'Neil joined ESPN in 2008 after working for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Send your questions now and join O'Neil Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Dana O'Neil (2:00 PM)
Hey everyone. Busy day, so let's get to chatting.
Thaks for the Will Sheridan piece. How does a story like that start? Do you approach him or does he approach you?
Dana O'Neil (2:02 PM)
Mike: I covered Will when he was at Villanova and he actually wrote a journal for my newspaper, so I had a good relationship with him. Heard about it and called him a year ago. He had concerns about his family then, so I waited until he was ready. If he was never ready, that was OK, too. His life.
Sal (Pennsauken, NJ)
Dana, your story on Will Sheridan talks about the telescopic view Jay Wright has on basketball. You note that he says things would have been okay if Sheridan had been out while playing -- it's not in the article, but am I correct in understanding Wright as saying he would have been supportive too?
Can anyone out-recruit Sean miller west of the mississippi? It seems like he has the whole region on lockdown as the most promising program west of Texas.
Dana O'Neil (2:03 PM)
Sal: Yep, that's what he meant and I believe him.
Dana O'Neil (2:03 PM)
Whoops, missed Sal's answer. As for Sean Miller, he's doing a remarkable job, no doubt. Arizona fans ought to be very happy that he stuck around.
How big of an impact do you see Erik Copes on George Mason's current roster? Do you think his committment will possibly bring more superstar recruits?
Dana O'Neil (2:04 PM)
Jesse: Huge get for George Mason and for Paul Hewitt out of the gate, absolutely. Think that's exactly the sort of people Hewitt can attract there. Will be putting people on notice in the CAA, for sure.
St.Joe's grad here. I hope you were present to hear the awful things said to Sheridan by St.Joe's fans or read the awful banners written by St.Joe's fans. I really hope you didn't sully a school's reputation based on Sheridan's word. That would be like taking a Duke grads opinion on something UNC.
Dana O'Neil (2:05 PM)
Michael Was confirmed by others and I've attended enough Villanova-St. Joe's games to know that nothing is off limits. From both sides.
Lunardi currently has the Zags as a 3 seed, is this just a case of too soon?
Dana O'Neil (2:06 PM)
Matt: Wow. Hey I don't argue with Lunardi but that's pretty high. Think they'll be good this year, for sure, but interesting.
What's going on with the Wildcats, Dana? All these transfers, losing Pullen, and all the noise last month about Martin to Miami makes a K-Stater wonder...
Dana O'Neil (2:07 PM)
Travis: Have no insider knowledge but certainly some upheaval right now. Also very interested to see what happens with Dalonte Hill, if he heads back to Maryland.
Pete (Hackensack, NJ)
How did the idea for the story on Will Sheridan come about? Did he approach you since you covered Villanova basketball?
Dana O'Neil (2:08 PM)
Pete: Nope, I approached him. Heard about it a year ago and I called. He needed some time to think on it but he was very funny. Said he always was waiting for me to ask. I"m not sure how that's supposed to come up. Hey great game, good rebounding... so are you gay? We had a decent laugh.
Do u think Tony Woods would be worth the risk for Kentucky if they take him?
Dana O'Neil (2:09 PM)
Nick: I have so many conflicts with that one. I believe in second chances, especially for kids who are that young, so you can't condemn him forever but I also have problems with someone saying he merely pushed a woman off a boxspring - as if that's a defense - and someone saying they broke their back falling out of a bed. It just doesn't add up. Did a whole piece on sexual assaults involving athletes and it's so complicated. So I can't give you a great answer, I'm sorry.
Jon (Fairfield, CT)
Dana, will Uconn score enough to justify their likely top 10 preseason ranking?
Dana O'Neil (2:10 PM)
Jon: They have to score more than in the title game, right?! Certainly the who will replace Kemba's numbers will be key for the Huskies. Gotta be by committee.
Ferny (New Haven, CT)
Great piece of long-form journalism, Dana. I have a quick question: to what extent is there a saturation point in regards to feature pieces about non-normative sport experiences? It seems every ESPN comment section is filled with loads of comments about why "race, gender, sexual orientation" just doesn't matter and that ESPN should stop talking about. Is there a fear of a true backlash or is it more than made up for by individuals who see it as important?
Dana O'Neil (2:12 PM)
Ferny: I guess my answer is when someone is in the locker room in the NBA/NHL/NFL/MLB/major football/hoops and he's gay and we know and we don't care, it won't matter. Until then, sadly, it matters. My hope is the more people who talk about it - and who, like Will, had a pretty easy time of it it won't matter anymore.
Chris '09 (Villanova, PA)
Thanks for your article re: Will Sheridan. Was a great piece and I can't wait for something like this to be a non-issue. It seemed like Will's dad was going back and forth with his own feelings. While I disagree with his Father's stance on the whole thing, I found that particular aspect of it to be particularly striking. Did he struggle even on the phone with you to adequately get his feelings across to you?
Dana O'Neil (2:14 PM)
Chris: Yeah, he did and honestly as a parent, I thought Will's insight was dead on. I like to think I'll love my kids no matter what - gay, straight, if they commit a crime - but when you're faced with it, it's a huge, huge huge shock and it takes time. I respect his dad for his honesty and for being willing to talk.
Dana, Harvard brings back everybody and is adding a recruit from California who is in some top 100 lists. Realistically, how high can they climb next year? the year after?
Dana O'Neil (2:15 PM)
Dan: Definitely think there will be high expectations for Harvard next year, in and out of the Ivy League. THis has to be the year they get that elusive NCAA bid.
I have a bit of a follow up to Ferny's question, do you ever read the comments on your srticles and does it ever shock you how many people log in to comment on an article just to complain about its content (when it's obvious the "don't talk about it has more to do with a bias against what's being talked about)? It seemed pretty apparent to anyone who reads the title what the article was about, if you're not interested, move on, there's pretty easy navigation here? Great piece by the way
Dana O'Neil (2:16 PM)
Greg: I do and then sometimes I wish I didn't but it's part of the process. People are entitled to their opinions and entitled to share them. I do wonder why you'd read somethign that you're not interested in. Like I don't think I'd ever click on a NASCAR story, so that confuses me. But to each their own
Dave (New York)
Great article - thanks Dana... my question: your article speaks very little of the VU student body... did Will mention if he thought the students knew? Were they supportive?
Dana O'Neil (2:17 PM)
Dave: He wasn't 'out' entirely to the student population. didn't hide. didn't announce. but he never had any problems with anyone.
Jason Y (London, ON)
Obviously this story had been planned before the most recent events, but do you believe that the wave of positive media coverage regarding homosexuals recently will inspire a closeted athlete to come out in the near future?
Dana O'Neil (2:19 PM)
Jason: I hope so. It honestly does seem like things have changed dramatically. I remember when people argued the statistics, said it would be impossible for there to be a gay person in the NFL.
Darin (Silver Spring, MD)
When do you think Rutgers will become relevant in the Big East after their great recruiting successes?
Dana O'Neil (2:20 PM)
Darin: Mike Rice has done an incredible job out of hte gate recruiting. Very impressive. Give him time to coach these guys. Climbing from the bottom of the Big East is really difficult but I think this year he proved he can coach. Now he's got great players. Only a matter of time.
Dana, As a follow-up to Greg's question and your answer on people reading your Sheridan story (which I thought was great), some people just think a sports web stie should not cover what they call "social issues." I disagree. It's as though if they close their eyes, there won't be gay people in sports.
Dana O'Neil (2:20 PM)
Keith: Again, everyone is going to have an opinion on all of this, which is good. That's what we're about. But I also think as a news organization, we're supposed to present the news in all of its facets. I wrote about a deaf basketball player. Why? Because it was news.
Dusty (St. Louis)
Any idea which way Trevor Lacy and DeAndre Daniels are leaning?
Dana O'Neil (2:21 PM)
Dusty: Nope, I don't but I know there are a few anxious schools waiting to hear.
Do you see St. Joe's as the top team in Philadelphia this year? The Hawks finished 3 points away from the A-10 title game and are loaded with talented underclassmen
Dana O'Neil (2:22 PM)
Pete: Great end by the Hawks this year. Should bolster a young team's confidence big time. Villanova certainly in flux right now but may have to give Temple an edge as best in city. Think St. Joe's, however, is going to be very good here soon.Again.
John (Main Line)
Will this affect Villanova's recruiting?
Dana O'Neil (2:23 PM)
John: I hope not! I mean as a parent, I'd be thrilled that Villanova's team meant what they said about being a family. Kept their private business to themselves. Supported one another.
Where do you draw the line between reporting and advocacy? Your story and your comments here demonstrates your personal perspective. How do you ensure that those who disagree with you get a fair hearing and are accurately reported?
Dana O'Neil (2:24 PM)
Doug: Good question. My comments here are my own, clearly. I guess my answer is, I went to everyone I could think of - former teammates, coach, family to try and find a discouraging voice and couldn't. Thought his dad's honesty was very critical.
Dana, Great Piece. On another topic, I was pleasantly surprised with how well Steve Donahue did with the limited (RJ excepted) talent at BC. How do the Eagles look this year in the ACC?
Dana O'Neil (2:25 PM)
Ryan: Agree. Thought Steve Donahue did a very good job with BC this year. Obviously losing Reggie this year will require some regrouping but I think Steve is a terrific group and has a plan for what he wants BC to be. Give him some time.
John Garrabrant (Denville (NJ))
How do you see Michigan State doing next year? will they return to being a top 15 type team and a final four contender or was like year a sign of bad things to come?
Dana O'Neil (2:26 PM)
John: Obviously have some holes to fill and a brutal (as always) non conference schedule, so may be some growing pains. This State team, though, could be a traditional Izzo team - that is, undersold early and then really good by January.
Should Kentucky start Gilchrist over Darius Miller even though Miller will be a senior?
Dana O'Neil (2:27 PM)
Tony: That decision, I'm sure, will be decided in practice. You start the guy who is playing the best. Seniors are great and Darius' leadership will be key but he can provide that off the bench just as easily.
Dana, great piece on Will. As a nova grad, it was pretty much common knowledge about Bump being gay by his senior year, There were always whispers about it around campus. People knew, and in the end nobody really cared. He was a solid basketball player and was a great ambassador for the school. Now onto a bball que --- how do you think Jayvaughn Pinkston is going to effect the team?? Major impact type player or more like every little bit will help??
Dana O'Neil (2:28 PM)
Sal: Thanks for sharing. Adding JayVaughn helps, definitely. Would have been a big bonus last year. But remember, he hasn't really played in a year so gotta give him time to get rid of the rest. THink this is a good Villanova team, but one sort of in transition. Really need Maalik Wayns to grow into a leader.
Have you heard anything on Al Skinner recently? He is a very good coach, and I think he still has some gas in the tank. He could definitely do some damage at a Northeast or Mid-Atlantic school. Thoughts?
Dana O'Neil (2:28 PM)
Nick: You're absolutely right and I haven't. Kind of one of those names we haven't heard in a while. Great coach. Good man. Some of the other schools would be lucky to have him.
If Bill Self can pull off a recruiting miracle and pick up Daniels or Lacy or even both, would that firmly put them in the preseason top 10?
Dana O'Neil (2:29 PM)
Jason: That would be huge, needless to say and big if, but would put the Jayhawks up there, I'd argue. More reconfiguring for Katz of hte top 25.
Could this be a distraction to Villanova as a team?
Dana O'Neil (2:30 PM)
Luke: I seriously doubt it. He graduated four years ago. Didn't overlap w/ the guys there now. Can't imagine it.
There r quite afew head coaching positions open. Are there enough qualified candidates?
Dana O'Neil (2:30 PM)
Craig: I think so. There are some good assistants out there who deserve a shot and with some of the jobs that are open, should get a call.
milton patterson (charlotte nc)
should the yankee's mgr be fired. I think he should be he doesn't have the pulse of the team.
Dana O'Neil (2:31 PM)
Milton: I"ll cheat and take a non hoops question because I'm a Yankee fan. Don't like all this strife and drama with the Yankees for sure. Why is it bad for Jeter to defend Posada?! And I screamed when he took Colon out the other night and put in Joba... OK, back to hoops!
Dana, Bill Self and Roy Williams played against each other in a charity golf event here in Kansas yesterday. Seems like the Jayhawk fans are mostly over Roy leaving. Its about time...
Dana O'Neil (2:32 PM)
Jason: Yeah saw the blog that Eamonn wrote bout that today. I agree. It's been a long long time and it's not like Kansas was left in the dumps with chicken livers. Good to see.
How good will robbie hummel be next year? What is realistic goal as a boiler fan?
Dana O'Neil (2:33 PM)
Alex: I'm rooting hard for him, I can tell you that. I covered Curtis Sumpter after two knee surgeries and he struggled but I think Hummel's surgical procedures were different, so I suspect/hope he'll be stronger for all of this.I think he needs patience, though. Conditioning always comes last.
Considering the recent sucess of the CAA, how long before heat gets turned up on Bruiser (Drexel)?
Dana O'Neil (2:34 PM)
Mike: Here's the twist of fate that is college basketball: Drexel was one tip-in away from beating VCU in the quarters of the CAA Tourney. So then what? We have no Shaka Smart. We have no VCU and who knows what Drexel does? Think Bruiser gets a good team every year but that is one hard league.
pick your starting 5 at syracuse with a bench load of good players.do you go with the talented players or start the senior players just because they put there time in like jb allways does
Dana O'Neil (2:35 PM)
Bill: I think you play the best guys. I can't imagine Rakeem Christmas lingering ont he bench forever, can you?
If Vanderbilt somehow finds its way to a number 1 seed (asking a lot, I know), would they be the best bet to be the first team to lose to a 16 seed, given their recent tournament history?
Dana O'Neil (2:36 PM)
Tommy: Ouch! Compliment followed with a dagger. I'm not sure I can see either scenario playing out. Think Vandy is going to be good. #1 seed good with North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State? Not sure.
What's your take on Kent State filing a lawsuit to get the buyout money from Geno Ford?
Dana O'Neil (2:36 PM)
Danny: Have heard things here and there on that. Sounds very complicated to me. Never good.
Dana-- I have heard about a lot of NCAA teams going on international trips this summer-- Duke, Villanova, Texas A&M, etc. Why isn't there more reporting on these? Seems pretty interesting?
Dana O'Neil (2:37 PM)
Ike: We've done some in the past, I think. Believe Andy went with someone to Canada. But they are interesting, in terms of developing young teams and getting in extra coaching time.
Chris (Chapel Thrill)
So i have followed college bball for many years, and this is the first year ever where there are more than a handful of people still covering it in the middle of the dead zone where there is almost nothing to talk about. What has changed so that i still get to chat about college b-ball in the middle of MAY!?
Dana O'Neil (2:38 PM)
Chris: Where ya been hiding? College hoops is a full-time gig these days for plenty of us.
Great article Dana. Do you have any thoughts about if the Tony Wroten Spanish class issue is going to affect his eligibility?
Dana O'Neil (2:39 PM)
Ann: I don't know for sure but it doesn't look good. I have a feeling at best, his eligibility will be held up why the NCAA goes over everything with a fine toothed comb.
A lot has been said about the ACC being down. But look at the Coaches in that league...after Roy and K, the rest are a combined 27-38 in the NCAA, with no one with more than 5 wins and only Bennet with a winning record. While Turgeon, Brownell, & Donahue are up and comers, the remainder of those coaches are a bunch of wrinkled suits, no? What's up with that?
Dana O'Neil (2:40 PM)
Patrick: Really interesting league right now. Very much in transition with so many new faces. I always hear that no one wants to go head to head with K and Roy but I don't buy that. In the Big East you go head to head with Calhoun, Boeheim, Pitino, etc.
Speaking of eligibility issues, are the any incoming freshmen that are going to have to deal with the NCAA the way Kanter and Selby did?
Dana O'Neil (2:41 PM)
Josh: Oh I'm sure there will be some. Don't know entirely who yet but there always is.
With the most talent returning from last year and two very solid freshmen (hairston and mcadoo) do you think North Carolina will be the 2012 natty champs? Also do you think Dook will be competitive
Dana O'Neil (2:41 PM)
Carson: Uh yeah I think Duke will be competitive. That Austin Rivers kid can play a little bit. Certainly Carolina, along with Kentucky and Ohio State, will be the early favorites.
Who do you like in the Preakness?
Dana O'Neil (2:42 PM)
Nick: Gotta root for Animal Kingdom, right? My kids favorite Disney Park plus I really want to go to the Belmont and maybe see a Triple Crown. But I'm not counting on it.
With the Murray State job now open, who is most likely to end up there?I've heard a lot of talk about Darrin Horn... could it be?
Dana O'Neil (2:42 PM)
Dylan: Really???? I hadn't heard that. I'd be stunned.
UCONN replacing Kemba by committee? Im not sure, I think Lambchop is going to breakout the exact way Kemba did. I think the experience of watching Walker explode will do WONDERS for Lamb.
Dana O'Neil (2:43 PM)
Louis: No doubt I think Jeremy Lamb is poised to do some great things. All of that playing time for him Shabazz is just huge. But Kemba is sort of an entity unto himself.
Sterling Gibbs, Nick Faust and Martin Breunig have all asked out of their LOI's. Do any of them stay at Maryland and if not, where does Mark Turgeon go from here? The cupboard will be looking pretty bare next year.
Dana O'Neil (2:44 PM)
Anthony: Certainly will be interesting to see what happens there. Think if Turgeon can land Dalonte Hill as an assistant it would be huge.
Thoughts about Belmont's move to the OVC?
Dana O'Neil (2:44 PM)
Roger: Think it makes sense. I"m not a geography major, but it fits better than the ASun.
Will Utah have a .500 record? And how will BYU replace Jimmer? Also will Jimmer be a good athlete in the professionals?
Dana O'Neil (2:45 PM)
Taylor: You don't replace Jimmer. You regroup. I certainly believe there is a place for him in the NBA. He's a great shooter and plenty of teams would welcome that. As for Utah, growing pains. Gonna take some time there, I fear.
Dana, as a gay man who loves sports, I absolutely appreciate that you wrote a story about what seems to be a very inspiring young man. There is a ton of hatred in this world expressed towards our community, and without people seeing hearing these types of stories, the lack of understanding will never be resolved. Thank you. And thank you Will for sharing.
Dana O'Neil (2:46 PM)
G, Thank you.
Animal Kingdom? You wouldn't happen to have a large Mouse looking over your shoulder would you? lol
Dana O'Neil (2:46 PM)
David: Ha, no and I'd love to say he was my horse in the Derby. My 10 year old daughter liked him. Sadly I went with Mucho Macho Man.
Jorge Posada (NYC)
Sorry Dana, but since you moved my question down to the bottom of the list, I'm going to have to ask out of the chat.
Dana O'Neil (2:47 PM)
Jorge: I understand, man.
Do you see the Oregon State Beavers making any moves in the new Pac 12, maybe getting to the post season?
Dana O'Neil (2:48 PM)
Ryan: Not sure a postseason is in the cards this season. Need a little more work there, I'd say.
Which SEC team do you think they'll match Syracuse up with in the Big East-SEC challenge? Kentucky is the obvious choice, but I can see them putting Kentucky up against UConn as a rematch from last March as well.
Dana O'Neil (2:49 PM)
Rob: Wish I had the inside scoop on that. If I had my pick, I'm with you. Match them with Syracuse. Arguably two best in their respective leagues.
As a Tennessee Volunteer fan, what should I expect from Cuanzo Martin? His current recruiting class is leaving a lot to be desired.
Dana O'Neil (2:49 PM)
Jonathan: THink that was a great hire, myself. Good coach, sterling reputation. He's got a lot to deal with right now, remember. The NCAA hammer hasn't fallen entirely, so that's a big if. Gonna need some patience.
Who is your number 1 team going into next year?
Dana O'Neil (2:50 PM)
Corey: North Carolina by a nose over Kentucky. More experience. Slightly.
Dana, Frank Haith most unusual hire of the offseason?
Dana O'Neil (2:50 PM)
Ben: Most surprising to me, certainly. Big job for a guy who did a good but not incredible job at Miami.
Dana, what are your thoughts on the Billy Kennedy hire in Aggieland? Seems like there's a lot of talent there for the first year coach, but I wonder whether I should expect the aggies to go up or down from here.
Dana O'Neil (2:52 PM)
Tim: Think Billy Kennedy is a lot like Mark Turgeon. Maybe not that splashy, sexy hire but he's a very solid coach & I suspect he'll do a very good job at A
Do you remember a more highly anticipated pre-conference match-up than the upcoming UK vs. UNC game?
Dana O'Neil (2:53 PM)
I'm sure there have been some but this year, that one ranks tops. Love that great teams play one another in the regular season.
Tate (Fond du Lac)
If u were starting your own program from scratch who do u want as your coach.
Dana O'Neil (2:54 PM)
Tate: Hmmmm.... Maybe Tom Izzo. But there are a laundry list of names I could toss out there.
Dana O'Neil (2:55 PM)
OK folks, sorry to cut it short but want to watch Will Sheridan on OTL at 3. Yes, shameless plug! My apologies. THank you for all the legitimately thoughtful questions.