Chat with Jay Bilas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will stop by to chat about the hoops season.
Bilas provides expert color commentary from courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPN's popular studio shows College Gameday and College Gamenight. He also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes numerous reports for SportsCenter. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPN's coverage of the NBA Draft.
Send your questions now and join Bilas Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Jay Bilas (2:53 PM)
Welcome to the Fastest Chat in Basketball. All thoughts expressed are mine, and should be yours. My seats are suede and my luggage is Louie, and I type outrageous. Let's get going, fire away!
Tyler (San Luis Obispo,CA)
Hi Jay! What do you think about UCLA and Ben Howland getting big time recruit Kyle Anderson and possibly Shabbazz Muhammad for 2012?
Jay Bilas (2:57 PM)
I love SLO! Played a HS baseball tournament there in 1980. Great place. Ben Howland has always done a good job recruiting, and he has stepped it up with Anderson. He is not a spectacular athlete that will "wow" you with moves or scoring. Anderson just knows how to play and will be terrific at UCLA. Shabazz is outstanding, and will be a difference maker in any program. Whether Ben lands him or not does not change Ben's great ability as a recruiter and coach. He is the real thing.
Zack Bauer (Portland, ME)
Hey Jay, I was wondering where you place Roy Williams in the pantheon of great coaches? Would you put him in the second tier behind say, Wooden, Knight, Krzyzewski and possibly Calhoun? And if he wins his third title in 7 years coming up, would that place him in that top group?
Jay Bilas (2:59 PM)
Whether you put Roy Williams on a Mount Rushmore or not right now, Williams is among the greatest coaches our game has known. To have had Roy Williams and Dean Smith on the same bench for so many years is really remarkable, in my judgment. Williams runs an exemplary program, and sets a very high standard with his X & O ability, his ability to communicate and build trust, and he is a bloodthirsty competitor. Who could ask for more?
Hey Jay, do you think the Ivy league would get better recruits if they offered athletic scholarships? It works at Duke, Stanford, and Norte Dame. Should the Ivy take a look at this?
Jay Bilas (3:03 PM)
Perhaps. The Ivy League is a great example of college athletics. It chooses not to give scholarships and does just fine. It sets its own bar, yet its standards do not stop others from offering scholarships and running their leagues the way they see fit. There are lessons there. Schools with resources should be allowed to use them the way they see fit. We are just talking sports here. We are not bringing drugs to the market, transporting explosives or selling medical devices. The amount of ridiculous regulation in college sports is laughable. By the way, Harvard will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Roosevelt was President.
Do you think John Jenkins is the best shooter in the country?? And with everyone back, can Vandy make a final four run? GO DORES
Jay Bilas (3:05 PM)
I do. In fact, I thought that Jenkins was the best shooter in the country last season. Vanderbilt will be among the top ten teams in the country this year. To reach the Final Four and win the SEC, Vandy needs to get tougher. The 'Dores were talented last year, but lacked a collective toughness at key times (including at Tennessee and in the postseason). Having an older team can help with that, and provide a sense of urgency. I like Vandy's chances. And, we have GameDay there. Get ready, SATCO!
Who will win the Big East?
Jay Bilas (3:06 PM)
I like Syracuse and UConn as the two favorites going into the season. Andre Drummond puts UConn in that fight, but before that deal was done, I thought Syracuse was the best team. The Orange should be very good.
Do you think Butler should starting looking else where with all of the conference realignment going on?
Jay Bilas (3:09 PM)
Nah, where are they going to go? This realignment is about markets and football, and it is about the next round of media negotiations in addition to controlling revenues. Butler does not add anything to any league in those categories, even though Butler is a fabulous basketball program. A key for Butler is being in a league that they can win or compete successfully for the title. The Horizon League is very good for that, just like the WCC is very good for Gonzaga for the same reason. Switching leagues will not improve Butler's standing, and the Big Four will not take Butler.
Ralph (Dallas, Texas)
On a list of recruiting hotbeds where would the Toronto area rank? And what is the reason behind the sudden increase in talent?
Jay Bilas (3:10 PM)
Perhaps people are warming up to the concept of mayo on a hamburger.
Jay, what's the realistic ceiling for Kevin Stalling's Commodores this season? The talent is there but hasn't that been true last few seasons, which resulted in multiple one-and-dones? The past squads have been missing something come March. What makes this year any different?
Jay Bilas (3:11 PM)
I think it is toughness. And, that is something that can be improved. I find Kevin Stallings to be one of the best coaches in the nation, and I first met him in 1985. He gets it, and I believe will do his best coaching job this season. He may have his best team.
Jay, what are your thoughts on Rick Pitino's comments on UConn's potential ACC move being the "dumbest thing" he's ever heard of and that "you're great winner, those things don't cross your mind."
Jay Bilas (3:14 PM)
I like that Rick Pitino speaks his mind. But, I don't agree on this one. The Big East is bleeding to death, and is no longer a major player sitting at the big table. UConn would be fortunate to get into the ACC right now. Look, I am sensitive to the Yankee Conference thing, and being a Big East charter member. But, times change. We have the 3pt shot, breakaway rims, and longer shorts, and the Republic still stands. This is inevitable change, and these conferences either change or get left behind.
Chris (chapel thrill)
What did you think about the story on the NCAA in The Atlantic last week? And what happens to a D1 football player if he gets hurt in a game?
Jay Bilas (3:18 PM)
I thought is was a brilliant piece written by a thoughtful and intelligent writer that had no agenda, but a valuable perspective. Reasonable minds can differ on some of the issues, but I found it to be quite balanced and perceptive. I felt that some of the criticisms of the writer and article were without supporting logic and reason. As to injuries, players are insured. But, the argument about players as employees to limit Worker's Comp claims is a non-starter. Business routinely insure against such claims, and NCAA member institutions can as well.
ABC (Milwaukee airport)
How will the creation of super conferences affect the NCAA tournament? Do you think those 64 schools will really pull out of the NCAA?
Jay Bilas (3:22 PM)
If we go to four super conferences, they will control football revenue. And, it is a quick step to control basketball revenue. Unless there is substantial and positive change within the NCAA structure, I believe that breaking away is a reasonable possibility in the future. If that were to happen, it would be rather easy to have a tournament to decide a champion, and a new tournament could easily invite conference champs and the best remaining teams from smaller conferences. Division I is too big, and the NCAA needs to allow for "tiers" or different divisions, and still have the same teams eligible for the NCAA Tournament. Governance structure and the Tournament are two different things.
Ryan ((Kahoka, MO))
Jay, how do you feel my Mizzou tigers will fare this year with all the drama facing Frank Haith this past summer?
Jay Bilas (3:26 PM)
I am not naive, If Haith did something wrong, then he should be held accountable. But, I am not certain that the claim against him is accurate or sustainable. I don't like seeing Haith go through this. Haith should be allowed to stand up for himself and defend himself publicly. It is ridiculous that he is not allowed to do so. And, while Haith is subject to negative speculation that hurts his job status and recruiting (which hurts his job status), positive statements are coming from the NCAA office on Donna Shalala. That is improper and horribly unfair. As to Mizzou, they will be good. I really like Marcus Denmon, and Laurence Bowers is one of the best frontcourt defenders. Tigers should do well.
Dusty (St. Louis)
Thomas Robinson was a beast last year in limited playing time. I keep reading that he looked amazing at quite a few camps this summer. Is he someone that could possibly be a 1st team All-American?
Jay Bilas (3:28 PM)
I worked with Thomas this summer at the Nike Skills Academy. And, he was outstanding. Robinson has the ability to make a big jump this season, and could very well wind up as an All-American. Tough kid, and a really hard worker that does not take a play off. I would put Sullinger, Barnes, and P. Jones ahead of him to start the season, though.
I'm an Indiana University fan who has stood by the team through the dark period of IU basketball ever since Bob Knight left to go to Texas Tech. I think Crean finally has the right players and the a group with the right work ethic to make some noise. Do you think this is the year the Hoosiers turn the corner and get back to being in the national conversation, or do we have to wait for the highly touted 2012 class?
Jay Bilas (3:31 PM)
I have said this a million times: Tom Crean is one of the best coaches I have ever been around. He took over the Indiana program at a really tough time, and he has not wavered or complained. He has just gone to work, recruited and coached his tail off. With players that have gotten better and Cody Zeller, I think Indiana will be very competitive this season. The improvement of Christian Watford is a big deal. I think this will be a very good year in Bloomington, and Tom Crean will be the reason why.
Jay, Why doesn't Thad Matta get more recognition nationally for the job he has done at OSU? He has essentially turned OSU into a basketball powerhouse program that is year in and year out a top 5-10 team
Jay Bilas (3:34 PM)
I don't know. Probably because he does not toot his own horn, and puts the spotlight on the players. Matta was outstanding at Butler, Xavier and now Ohio State. He has been to one title game, and perhaps needs to win one. That usually does the trick. Whether he wins one or not, Matta is respected by his peers. Rightfully so.
Aaron Vaughn (Muncie, IN)
Jay,As you know, college sports have been exposed in the last decade to various recruiting violations raising a lot of questions regarding the integrity of a head coach and his staff. I'm a student assistant for who I like to think is one of the most classy guys in college hoops, Billy Taylor of Ball State, and I'm confident that I've seen the "right" way to do things. Is college basketball in good hands?
Jay Bilas (3:40 PM)
It is for the most part. College sports and the NCAA do a great job of shooting themselves in the foot over and over again. We need better rules, and to allow presidents to run their own schools without over regulating them over stupid things. Who cares how many training meals a school provides per day, or whether walk-ons eat at training table? Who cares what stationery schools use, or how much of it? And, we need fairness and independence on the enforcement side, which we do not have. The NCAA should administer championships and promulgate and enforce rules related to competition. The rest is up to individual schools. These are just games, and we make it seem like we are regulating the defense industry. It is silly.
Jay, there has been a lot of talk that the Big East non-football schools break off and form their own "Catholic" league with the likes of Xavier, Dayton, Creighton, and SLU. Do you see this happening?
Jay Bilas (3:42 PM)
They should probably look to such creative options. Once we get to super conferences, other leagues will still exist. There is a lot of further shifting to come, and if a Catholic league of basketball schools can provide some value to television partners, they should go for it. Without football, it will be a tough slog.
Jay, Rhoda Osterneck, aka the Ram Lady, and die hard Tar Heel fan recently passed away. I believe you mentioned her in an interview on ESPN alongside James Worthy a few years ago about how she was always there on the sidelines.
Jay Bilas (3:50 PM)
I am so sorry to hear that. She was such a delightful person, and a wonderful fan of everything North Carolina. I had the great pleasure of meeting her at a UNC game a few years ago. Ms. Osterneck, for many years, sat courtside at Carolina games and had a Ram doll in her lap. Once, when playing the Heels and taking a pretty loud beating from the crowd and with Ms. Osterneck cheering so visibly with her Ram doll, one of my teammates jokingly said in the huddle that we should get a loose ball over by that lady with the Ram doll and take her out! When she was told that story by a mutual friend, she said she wanted to meet me, and we had a such a fun laugh about it. She was so kind and gracious about the story, and was an absolute delight. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. Every team should have a such a person on their side, as North Carolina had in Rhoda Osterneck. May she rest in peace.
How excited are you for 11-11-11. What a great event, not only for college bball, but for all the troops and their families. Do you think Sparty can actually keep it close for once? Izzo hasnt played well against Roy lately.
Jay Bilas (3:54 PM)
I cannot wait for the Carrier Classic on 11/11/11. To have UNC and MSU play in front of our men and women in uniform on Veterans Day will be a tremendous honor. I went to the Middle East twice with Tom Izzo for Operation Hardwood, and we were among a dozen guys to have the honor of coaching US Army soldiers in tournament play. The best team in the world is the United States Armed Forces. It will be a great game, but also a great experience.
who would you say is the best mid major team?
Jay Bilas (3:59 PM)
Detroit took a hit with Eli Holman having to leave the team for personal reasons, but I think that Creighton, Belmont, Fairfield, Santa Clara, Long Beach State, Wichita State, Harvard, Creighton, VCU, and Gonzaga should all be good. Does that mean that any will go as far as VCU did last year? That will be tougher. This is a much better season for college basketball than the last two. We should have some potentially great teams and players this year with so many good players returning and so many good players coming in. I think it has the chance to be a great season.
Matthew (Austin, TX)
Despite losing five major contributors, do you think Kansas will compete for the conference title?
Jay Bilas (4:01 PM)
Kansas will have a major say in the Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks are not without talent, even though Baylor may have more. KU has been there before, and I value that. It will not be a year where KU goes unbeaten on the road, but I still like the Jayhawks in the Big 12.
Do you see Memphis surviving the Confrence realignment nightmare?
Jay Bilas (4:03 PM)
Yes, Memphis will survive. But, it may not be a major player at the big table. That does not mean that teams outside the power conferences cannot win and field successful teams. They can. But, they will not be influential in the decisions made at the highest level, and will not command big television money. Winning is still an option!
Jay Bilas (4:04 PM)
Thanks for all of your questions! I cannot wait for hoop season to start, so we can talk about the game instead of the money, which I guess is easy to say when you are allowed to earn compensation beyond a scholarship.