Graham will be here at 2 p.m. ET today to take your hoops questions!
Hello from Trenton. Sorry for the scheduling snafu yesterday; this time I'm not counting on the MAAC and the NCAA opening the arena doors when they say they will, so we should be good to go. Let's get to it.
Are you shocked at how easy if was for Louisville to defeat Maryland?
I picked Maryland and was obviously wrong, wrong and wrong. So I was surprised, but the margin wasn't a shock, if that makes sense. It's really easy for postseason games to snowball once once team establishes a hold on a game. I expected Louisville to disrupt whatever Maryland wanted to do on offense, but I thought the way Toliver and Coleman were playing, they'd be able to get enough points out of broken plays and one-on-one basketball. But it's getting to the point where you've got to go with Jeff Walz's game planning as the default X-factor. If he has time to prepare, the results are almost always good, and in this case, he's had years to think about ways to stop Toliver and Coleman. Great performance from all of the Cardinals' supporting cast,as well.
With Maryland out of the tournament, can anyone left play with UConn?
Maryland was the chic pick, and I had my eye on that bandwagon as much as anyone, but I'm not sure they ever had the defense to be the biggest threat to Connecticut. If the Huskies do get past Arizona State tonight, Stanford could be another test like last year. We saw against Cal what can happen if Charles gets in early foul trouble against a team with a good inside game.
So who do you think would give UCONN a tougher matchup, Stanford or Oklahoma? My pick is Stanford for their size, experience, amd shooters.
I'd agree with that, and I wouldn't just hand OU that Final Four spot - Purdue should be a challenge, even if the game is in OKC. With Stanford, I just wonder how they would fare against UConn's pressure without Hones and Wiggins to handle the ball. Pohlen has been absolutely fantastic at PG for them, but that's asking a lot for someone who might be a more natural 2 or 3.
What are the Boilers against the Sooners?Did their rash of injures midseason prepare them for this unexpected run?
Definitely a team that seems to be coming together at the right time. Wisdom-Hylton and Howell started to hit their strides in the second half after coming back from last season's injuries, Rayburn's minutes have been managed really well as a freshman, leaving her peaking at the right time, and they got Malone back after the games she missed during the season. Sometimes that many moving parts can derail a team, but like you're saying, this seems like one of those cases where it really laid the groundwork for what has happened in March.
Of those no longer playing, who hurt their draft stocks and who helped their stock in the Tourney?
Let's start by saying that after watching Jayne Appel go off last night, thank goodness, from a fan's perspective, that players stay all four years. I'd say Kia Vaughn helped her stock, even if the last game was a disappointment for all of the Scarlet Knights. Coleman didn't need to help her cause, but she certainly played like a top two or three pick. I can't really think of anyone who dramatically hurt their stock, more a case of opportunities missed to make a statement.
Will the Lady Vols return to form next season?And will anyone ever stop UCONN?
On the latter, sure, at some point, although given the way Hayes has played, Doty played before she got hurt and some of the talent coming in, it won't necessarily coincide with Maya Moore graduating in a few years. It's difficult to imagine Tennessee having back to back years like that. A lot of it may depend on how healthy their post game is, but it's not like the cupboard is bare in Knoxville. It was a young team that showed some promise and fizzled late. I'd be cautiously optimistic about an immediate return to form.
After the debacle with a nine seed getting a second round home game against a top seed, do you think the women's tournament committee will make some changes when setting the brackets?
Well, the sites are set for the first two rounds next season, so don't expect anything immediate. You would think the law of averages might help them out in avoiding quite as many No. 1 and No. 2 seeds playing on an opponent's home court, but it will remain a possibility. It's not a good situation, but it's not necessarily a situation where there is an obvious solution that will satisfy all concerns. Balancing fairness, television and attendance is tricky for a game that is still growing.
After yet another tournament defeat where the offense fell apart, can CVS finally address the problem? Clearly the current offensive system isn't working at Rutgers. It's the same thing every year. The one game the supreme athletes on RU were let loose finally, they crushed Auburn.
Well, if you listen to Epiphanny Prince, at least, the tempo from the Auburn game is what she wants all the time. Granted, that's a little difficult to believe given the statistical record. I'll admit I wonder the same thing about adjusting a little to the strengths of the players on hand, but at the same time, she's gone to a championship game, a regional final and a Sweet 16 the last three seasons, the last with a young team that didn't have a lot of natural leadership when the season began. That's a pretty impressive recent record, even if it's not an eye-pleasing style all the time.
You're mr give the job to women so what's your take on Westhead going to the Ducks...Age not withstanding, he was the Male coach I was talking about when I said there are qualified male coaches who can make an instant impact...I think he'll do great and make Charlie Turner Thorne sweat (They would go after similar athletes)...now his love affair with wanting Corey Gaines as heir apparent on the other hand :(
I'm absolutely not 'Mr. give the job to the woman.' I merely believe the deck is stacked against women in coaching. But as for Westhead, it is an interesting hire, which I think may have been Turner Thorne's choice of words when someone asked her about it here. More than his style, the key is going to be how he recruits the NW. ASU has obviously had a lot of luck up there, and the Portland area has been sending a lot of good talent out of state in recent years.
Graham--I thought all along the NCAA committee did Boston College a disservice by leaving them out of the tournament. Has their stellar play in the NIT vindicated that thought? How's BC's recruiting looking? I think they should do well next year, no? Thanks.
I still think they got it right with Boston College. Either way, you could make a case that this run to the WNIT semifinals will be a lot more helpful for a team that returns just about every key piece than getting knocked out in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a 6-11 or 5-12 game. I really like BC as an ACC sleeper next season. I don't honestly know much about their recruiting class, but given the amount of talent returning, my guess is it's small.
Does ASU's odd and hectic transistion game (For you newbies, think 40 Mins of hell and the Grinell offense) cause issues for UConn or are they playing into their hands with Geno's use of the Poke Check and the athletcisism of Moore and Montgomery?
It could present a challenge, given UConn's small rotation, but then again, fatigue won't mean a heck of a lot if the Huskies have a 20-point halftime lead. It's definitely something new for them to deal with, which makes it interesting in its own right, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's going to cause them a lot of problems.
All right, that will wrap things up from Trenton. Thanks for all the questions, as always. Enjoy the games tonight -- both on ESPN.