Humble apologies for being late. I was doing something for SportsCenter, and it takes them forever to spackle on that make-up and cover up my five-head (which used to be a forehead). Fire away!
How will the lengthening of the three point line affect play this season?
Good question. I am not certain that anyone really knows the answer. It will help spread the floor because players of today tend to gravitate to that line. I like the move, but wish that we would have coordinated it with the women's game. Too many lines. Shooting percentages will go down initially, which might allow some coaches to tell certain players to stop shooting threes if they miss so much. Bob McKillop at Davidson gives his players "shooting licenses" like you would give a driver's license. If they don't shoot certain shots to a certain standard, they are not allowed to shoot them in games. I myself, would take the ticket and fire away!
How will the Mountain West fair this year for National exposure.
Much better. I like UNLV, BYU, SDSU, Utah and New Mexico to challenge for NCAA berths. I think that Wyoming's Brandon Ewing is one of the most underrated players in the nation. He is really good. The Cowboys could surprise people too. Great move by the MWV to take on the Missouri Valley. The MWC is better, but the MVC gets better press.
Is there any chance of Providence being a sleeper in the Big East and an NCAA tourney team?
Good chance, really. But, you can be very good and finish 11th in that league. WIth the talented forwards that Keno Davis has inherited, PC should be solid. Sharaud Curry healthy is a big boost.
Is Wake's young talent THAT good. What kind of season are they in store for.
It is that good. I had the chance to work with Al Farouq Aminu and Tony Woods at the LeBron Camp last year, and both are truly outstanding. With Ish Smith and Jeff Teague, Dino Gaudio has really fast and athletic guards, and James Johnson is the real thing. Wake is young, but should be one of the top five teams in the ACC. I think experience is a big deal, but this young team has great talent.
What do you see from the 'Cuse this season? Will they finally make it back to the NCAA Tourney??
Syracuse should have been in two years ago, and made a decent case last year. This year, the Orange is in. With Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins back healthy, the talent is there. I am a huge believer in Jonny Flynn, who is second to Darren Collison of UCLA as the top point in the country, is the real deal. He will be first team All-Big East. Also, Paul Harris is going to have a great season. He is really, really good. The Cuse will be back this year.
Hey there Jay, So UNC has be declared pre-season #1 and is picked to be the national champ. But what do you see as a weakness for them?
That we have a playoff system. Don't get me wrong, nobody has crowned the Heels king....yet. We are just saying that they are the favorite. Georgetown in 1985, UNLV in 1991, you name it...there are tons of teams that were preseason NO. 1 that fell short. Injuries and a great performance by another outstanding team can get in the Heels' way. But they will win 35 or more games and be right there at the end. Great team, great coach, great program. They have it all. And, the UNC Basketball Museum is the best I have ever seen, by far.
Hey Jay. How do you think the Pac-10 looks this year? Do the Huskies have a shot at the conference championship?
Solid. UCLA, Arizona State, USC and Washington look like tournament teams, but the others have a lot of question marks. I think that Arizona should be and will be on that list as well. But, the rest of the league is unproven. That is a league of really good coaches.
So what do you think about the National Champs this year. Does KU have a good shot at winning the BIG 12 or the BIG 12 Tourney?
KU is very talented, just young with a lot of new faces. Don't be surprised to see KU right there, but I don't think the Jayhawks will win the league. Cole Aldrich can be a star, but there are so many new pieces that they may need some time. In time, though, look out.
JAY...LOVE THE CHAT...do you think the selection committee will have a bias against the Big East in terms of how many teams they'll let in? does Pitt finally make it through the sweet 16???
Dave Gavitt, one of the smartest basketball men on the planet, helped write the protocols for the selection process. After the Automatic Qualifiers, every team is an INDEPENDENT. We in the media get caught up with how many teams, but the Committee really won't consider it. The hard part comes from having losses, and the Big East is guaranteed to hand out some losses to really good teams. It will take some basketball savvy to sort it out. We'll see if this Committee has it.
Jay, Heytvelt has been killing it in the exhibition games and looks to be back to his sophomore form. Can he along with Pargo and Daye elevate the Zags to a final four caliber team?
Possible. I think that Gonzaga is a top ten team. They have a lot of good players, but need to stay healthy. They also need great leadership from Pargo. They have a good shot, but they have had that before, too. Josh gives this team a different dimension.
Jay, what do you see out the Kentucky Wildcats this season, improvement over last with the young talent they have?
I think that UK will be much better than people think. They should be ranked. Patrick Patterson is truly outstanding, and will be an All-American. Jodie Meeks is a great athlete that is healthy. The key will be guard play. If the new guards are good and consistent, UK will have a great year. I did not think that UK was an NCAA team last year (although they played really well at the end of the year) but this year, UK will be good. I like how hard they play, too.
Great chat...which "big games" on their non-conference shcedule do you see Davidson winning this year?
NC State would be one. I will be seeing the Cats against West Virginia. I think it is important to win a game or two against the name teams they play. It is not good enough to play well and lose. The Committee cannot make exceptions for mid-majors. You have to win games against good people. I wonder how the Committee would have treated Davidson last year if the Cats had been clipped in the ScCon Tournament. That would have been interesting.
Jay, a couple of months ago you wrote on the hiring of AAU coaches/relatives of highly recruited players (citing the John Wall recruitment by Baylor). You said that Clifton was "qualified" only because he had connections to John Wall. Did you not know, or did you not want to mention for the sake of your argument that Clifton was a player at Clemson, where in fact current Baylor Assistant Coach Matthew Driscoll was coaching. In other words, Clifton was qualified and had a connection to a current Baylor coach = a good hire. The hire was not as shady as Mario Chalmers dad being hired, or K-State's rediculous money offered to Dalonte Hill.
I did not really say that. I don't have personal knowledge of Clifton's qualifications as a basketball man. Chalmers was qualified to be hired independent of his relationship with his son. A person can be both "qualified" and hired for the wrong reasons, if that makes sense. It is too tough to speculate on the reasons behind a hiring decision, but I am not naieve, either. I would like for college presidents to hold each other accountable for this type of thing. If they can explain it to their colleagues, I am okay with it. It is a shady looking practice, though. But, it occurs in other industries and the world keeps turning.
Jay: How will the freshman at UCLA do this season, and can they help the veterans (Collison, Shipp, and Aboya) to a title?
Very well. Jrue Holiday is the real thing. UCLA has really good guards. The key will be how the Bruins' frontcourt performs. They lost a lot of big men.
We've had a few years to integrate Beilein's offense. Do the Wolverines stand a chance to make an NCAA appearance, or is it more of the same for the maize and blue?
He only had one year but it seemed like more with all the losing. John is a great coach and in time he will do a great job. He has some outstanding players and really good kids. It's still going to be a while though before they are a great team.
How about the non-conference game that no-one seems to be talking about: Memphis - Syracuse. What do you make of that game? Jimmy B finally scheduling a road game!
Syracuse needed a game like that. I think they have scheduled games like this for a long time but this game is getting more attention. Memphis doesn't get in a lot of fist fights in Conf. USA so this game is very important for them. Important for both teams actually.
Jay, how many teams will go dancing out of the Missouri Valley this season?
Traditionally 2 or 3 has been the limit. I think Creighton is the best team in the league. S. Illinois should be back on form. The MVC was not as good last year as the past few years but should be better this year. Just not sure it's realistic to say 4-5 teams from that conf. will be Tournament worthy.
Is it possible that a team can go undefeated in today's game?
Possible, yes. But very unlikely. When you look back to Indiana and 1976, they were a Senior dominated team and only played 32 games. It was one of the greatest teams of all time. Many teams have carried a undefeated record late into the season like UNLV, St. Joseph's, Memphis, etc. But it's just so difficult. I think we will see it again but it will be hard to predict. More games, younger players, the 3 pt shot, it's too many mines in that field to walk across without stepping on one.
Louisville looked very unimpressive in their exhibition games against Georgetown College and Northern Kentucky. How worried should I be?
You can be worried if you want, but they will still be very good. Remember back to Denny Crum, Louisivill has always built well from the beginning of the season to the end. The important thing is to play really well from the midpoint on. A new guy in the middle and Terrance Williams not healthy, you expect some bumps in the road. By the end of the road, Louisville will be a very talented team with a great coach. Don't worry, they will be there at the end.
Does Mike Anderson get Missouri turned around this year and in the top half of the conference?
He could. Mike is a good coach and they have some good players in DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons. The key will be guard play and frankly whether the team can stay together. They have had some off court problems that has effected continuity. It has to be a 24/7 committment by the players to get what they want to do accomplished.
Do you have a preseason Final FOur
North Carolina, UCONN, Louisville and Michigan State.
Jay, I am a Miami native and ACC fan but as a Villanova alum I have seen the power of the Big East, please tell me the Acc can find a way to return as the nations top conference.
The ACC will be back as the top conf. but not this year. Big East is best this year and it's not even close. Nobody can compete with the overall depth and competitiveness. You can be the 11th best team and in the mix for the Tournament. It's ironic to me that the ACC's expansion paved the way for the Big East to be the best and it is. Might not be that way every year but it is this year.
Jay, what do you see the Terps doing this year? How many more years do you think Gary has in him and is Chucky D his heir apparent and what are the chances that Jai Lucus comes to the Terps?
I think Maryland could have a Tournament team. They have very good guards. Sean Mosley should have a big year for them. He is a very powerful guard who does not play afraid. They lost some sizes in Gist and Osbey so they need some front court guys to step up and perform. I don't know how long Gary will go but not too much longer. He will not overstay his welcome in the game. At the same time, he should not have a timetable. He should go as long as he has the passion for it. That's what Dean Smith did. Just because he is in his 60s, he shouldn't automatically be looking for a retirement community. He is a great coach and I'd like to see him stay as long as he feels competitive.
Obviously the Big East is the tops this season. But cmon..! Of course your going to have some strong teams when you have 78 teams in the conference. Am I the only one that thinks a 16 team confernce is rediculous?
No. I think you can make a good argument it is too many teams. But you can have 16 teams and not have 12 good ones. The Big East is big, yes, but it's also good. Other conferences just don't have the depth. Just because you are big doesn't mean you are good. It's a rotating thing, the best conference, but the Big East just has more power than any other league by far.
I don't want to break up your perfect game with not mentioning Duke, but can you give me your season prediction for them?
They will be Top 5 good by the end of the season. They are older and more experienced. Their freshmen will be immediate contributors. That extra year of experience will be key. They wore down last year. They just ran out of gas. DeMarcus Nelson wasn't the same player at the end as he was in the middle. Nolan Smith will free up Paulus to come in, be a shooter, play some point, etc, without having the expectations on his shoulders.
Wisconsin has become old reliable. Any reason to think different this year?
No reason. They will be good again. Bo Ryan has a system and they keep it simple, They just compete and play hard together. I don't see how all of a sudden they wouldn't be good this year.
Do you think Purdue will win the Big-10 and do some damage in the NCAA tournament?
I think Purdue is really good with a good chance to win the Big 10. With Moore, Grant and Hummel, Painter has a great nucleus of stars. It's going to hurt losing Scott Martin. He was a good player who just had a steeper learning curve in college. The key will be how tough they are. They have to rebound better to be a great team. If they can show that toughness on the boards, it could be Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan St. for the Big Ten title. Sorry for the false start today but I'm looking forward to doing this on a weekly basis this season! Take care.
Hey, I just got my power back on....I can take some more questions!!
How do you think UofA Wildcats will fare this year?
I feel badly for the Arizona players. Having a longtime coach and handling succession is a very difficult thing. Now that Coach O is retired, the loss of continuity is the biggest challenge. UA will be good this year, but it has to be frustrating to have another interim coach. I hope they do well, for the players sake.
Jay, can you give me one reason why many are picking Michigan to finish 6th in the Big Ten? On paper they look like they will be awful.
Michigan has some talent, now. Harris and Sims are really good players. There is no way that Michigan should have lost 20 games last year, but they had a new system and a new coach, so it made sense. This year, the Big Ten is not very good in the bottom half. I think that sixth is fair, but sixth will probably not get anyone into the NCAA Tournament. In the old days, sixth in the Big Ten was a near lock for an NCAA berth. Not this year. Keep the faith. Beilein is very good, and he will get UM there.
How good is Butler's Matt Howard? Does have All-American in his future?
I think that Matt Howard is the John Pinone of the Horizon League. Remember Pinone? Not much to look at, but he could play. Same thing with Howard. He will probably not be All-America because of TV, but he can really play. He understands angles, has good skills, and he really competes on every play. Love that kid.
How do you see your former teammate Johnny Dawkins doing in Palo Alto this year?
Dawkins will do well at Stanford. The Cardinal lost a lot, but they will be competitive. The key will be recruiting over the next two years. The first year of a transition is always tough, but next year will be better. On the floor, Mitch Johnson, Kenny Brown, Lawrence Hill and Landry Fields will make Stanford competitive. But, the best guard on that team is still Dawkins. He was a great player at Duke, and he can still play.
I think people are overlooking Marquette. With three senior guards and Hayward improving down low, I think this is going to be a tough team as long as Buzz Williams isn't a joke. Thoughts?
Who is overlooking them? They are ranked in the Top 15 in every poll I have seen. I agree with you. With McNeal, James and Matthews, Buzz Williams has great guards. I think that Lazar Hayward is ready to take a bigger role. I like Marquette's chances, but Williams has to continue to recruit. Those guys are leaving, and leaving as big winners.
Hey Jay! How far do you think Pitt gets this year? You think they get past the Sweet 16? They returned almost everybody yet play in a very tough conference...any Final 4 possibility?
Pitt is Final Four good, but the issue is match-ups. UCLA got in the Panthers' way a couple of years ago, and that was a bad match-up for Pitt. They are more than good enough. Breaking through is really tough. Great program, but getting to a Final Four would really hellp the masses understand that.
Hey Mr. Bilas, with the rising use of steroids, and steroid-related enhancers being used in all sports today, do you see the NCAA implementing any type of program for testing college basketball players in the near future?
College basketball players are tested now. It is a difficult issue because of money and privacy. I am not aware of major issues with regard to drug use in college basketball but it would be naieve to believe that it doesn't happen.
Jay, are people sleeping on the Gators? Their roster is raw, but I like the upside of their young, athletic big men. Thoughts?
What is this fascination with "sleeping"? I am not sleeping on Florida, nor I am napping, nodding off or doing any snoring of any kind. Florida will be much better this year, mostly because they are older and more experienced. Chandler Parsons is going to be really good. When Nick Calathes gets healthy, Florida will be right there for the SEC East title. Boy, am I sleepy.
What is your opinion of the A-10 this year. Will they be as good as last year?
Much better league. Xavier is the best team, but Temple, Dayton, Charlotte, and St. Joe's are really good. The best player in the league is Temple's Dionte Christmas. He has size and can shoot it and get to the rim. He should be higher up on all of these All-America lists.
Are people sleeping on the buckeyes this year? Is it possible that BJ Mullens could be as impactful a freshman as Greg Oden was?
More sleep deprivation. Mullens is similar to Oden in that he plays on the low block and embraces being a big man. Kosta Koufos did not. I think that Evan Turner and David Lighty are going to have great year. I think the key will be guard play. That is what Thad Matta needs most is a stable handler. This will be a big and very good team. How good depends upon how quickly Mullens matures.
When do you think the NCAA will finally hand down a ruling on Indiana? Why is it taking so long?
I have no idea. If the NCAA hits Indiana really hard, it would be wrong. This was about phone calls and a hire that the NCAA did not like. Those left at IU did nothing wrong and should not be hammered further. That would be overkill.
Jay, How do you feel about Delvin Roe this year in big ten play?
Delvon Roe has not played in a lot of games because of injury. He has been out over a year, and that can take a toll. He is a really good player, but needs some time to get back to being a player again. He should be fine, but after a few months he should be even better.
Where would you rank Psycho T in a list of the greatest college basketball players in history?
That is a good question, and one that I have not thought much about. Hansbrough is unique. I am not sure, though, how good he would be if he played in the 1980's when everybody stayed four years, and he would have been compared to Len Bias, Brad Daugherty, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Johnny Dawkins, Mark Price and Ralph Sampson in the ACC. But, he doesn't have to play against those guys.....and they don't have to bang up against him, either!! He would be a really good player in any era, and he is a truly special competitor. I hope he is back on the floor soon. No player is more deserving of a healthy senior year.
Thanks for all of the questions!! See you next week. Jay