Eamonn Brennan will be here at the top of the hour to fulfill your college basketball fix.
Hola and como estas, los chatters! My Spanish isn't what it used to be, so I'll stick to English from here on out. What's on your collective minds?
Is anyone in here?
Hey, Howard, we're here. Questions and comments, etc. Let's do this.
Do you see Duke using a three guard lineup, with Kyle Singer as a Battier-power forward and Mason Plumlee in the middle? Or will the lineup have Singler at the three, with both Plumlees in the starting lineup?
I doubt Coach K even knows this answer yet. It will come down to what he sees in the first month or so of the season. Duke is certainly deeper in the backcourt with Nolan Smith, Kyrie Irving, Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry, so it's easier for me to see them playing Singler as a stretch four with Mason Plumlee at the five.
What do you think of Butler's chances in the tournament next year?
We're a long way away, but in a very general sense, I think they're OK, if not quite what they were in 2009-10. But there's no reason this team can't make it to the Elite Eight, if not further; after all, the Bulldogs do return Nored, Mack and Howard from a team that nearly won the national championship four months ago. That's a core most coaches would drool over. But it's also lacks a certain explosive talent, and Gordon Hayward isn't walking through that door anytime soon.
If you ran a March Madness pool (for fun, of course) how would you handle the First Four? Everyone needs to fill out their brackets by Tuesday before the games, or Wed before the real First Round?
I actually just wrote a post on this topic last week. You can check it out here: http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/13330/how-will-the-first-four-affect-your-bracket. As a quick summary, I think the best way to do it is to create two sets of deadlines -- you have to have your First Four games picked by Monday night or Tuesday morning (the First Four plays on Tuesday of the tournament's first week) and the rest of your bracket submitted by the usual deadline. That way, people can pick the First Four games without having to submit their bracket in a hurry, AND they can analyze the bracket with the four played-in teams and their matchups included. That'd be my solution.
Eamonn: If IU has a successful over .500 season would they be able to bring in big time recruits like Cody Zeller and B.J. Young?
It couldn't hurt, right? Proving to players that they don't have to be the focus of a rebuilding effort is always a plus, because elite recruits want to win. So, yeah, it could help. But I'm sure it won't be the only consideration -- it might not even be a major one -- in either recruit's decision-making process.
As a member of the college basketball cognoscenti, have you perceived a shift towards things like tempo-free stats and RPI in the evaluation of teams, notably tournament selection and seeding? Is there a trend in this direction or are these measures viewed skeptically?
Good question, actually, and I can reference you to another post from earlier this year (I promise I won't keep doing this): http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/3753/first-day-notes-from-the-ncaas-mock-selection-committee. Basically, I've seen a big shift in the use of these stats by fans, bloggers, and even some analysts. And the NCAA does include Ken Pomeroy's statistics as a measurement to consider in the materials the NCAA gives to the committee. As a practical measure, though, my mock selection committee didn't once reference tempo-free stuff (except when I brought it up), and RPI dominated the evaluation discussion most of the time. In short, the answer is no, not really.
Does your computer have a mouse and wheel as it's processor or do you type as slow as my grandma?
I'm actually typing all of this from my Apple IIe. It's hard to run a chat when you're busy shooting bears in Oregon Trail.
With a talented and experienced core of veterans (McCamey, Tisdale, Davis), as well as some impressive incoming freshmen on the way (Richmond), how do you see the Illini faring in the Big Ten and beyond this season?
You sort of answered your own question there, Ryan. Illinois has plenty of talent, experience, and depth. The key will be for Bruce Weber to get this group to play defense. That's always been his teams' calling card, even in down years, but the 2009-10 Illini just didn't defend all that well. If they improve in that regard this year, they could legitimately compete for the Big Ten title. An NCAA tournament berth should be a given.
A lot of UofL fans didn't like your Summer Buzz blog yesterday. I'm a UofL fan but even I know Rick Pitino isn't a miracle worker.
I didn't mean to imply that he was. (Which, if I did, means I didn't do a very good job.) All I meant to imply was that it will be interesting to see if Pitino's all-out attack and full-court press can do what we basketball nerds have been arguing about for years: level the playing field. I think Louisville will be incredibly interesting to watch for that reason. It's like a perfectly designed five-month hypothetical field-test.
Shoot the Buffalo. They weigh more.
With the way the Big Monday schedule was set for the Big 12, do you think the league is predicting KU and K-State as the best teams in the league this year, or simply the biggest national draw? They both have 4 appearances, and only 1 game doesn't have at least one of those two.
I'm no programming director, but if I had to guess, it's probably both. I think K-State is your Big 12 favorite this season, but they're followed closely by Baylor and Kansas. People like to watch good teams, right?
When your party is dying of starvation do you slow your pace to improve morale? Or you increase pace to get to Independence Rock quicker and trade with the other wagon trains?
Always push through. Family members are disposable in the Wild West. (OK, last Oregon Trail reference.)
Is UK's talent enough to make them Top 10 next year?
Kentucky is another interesting team because it's hard to know what to expect. That's the nature of so much turnover -- highly touted players often turn out to be stars in Calipari's system, but it's never a guarantee. If I had to guess, though, I'd say yes. Few coaches are quite as good at meshing and maturing freshman talent quite like Kentucky's.
Do any of the writers on ESPN read the comments section of a written piece/blog or are commentors just wasting their time?
I will only respond for myself: Yes. I do read your comments on blog posts and such. Not always right away, but so you know, we're down there. You're not wasting your time.
Do you agree UK is more dynamic this year with better shooters? Seems to me teams won't be able to play zone against them all day every day to try and beat them.
This question has been floating around in various forms in the chat. Here's the thing about Kentucky's 2010-11 team: They should be far more balanced. The talent isn't locked in at two or three positions (PG, PF, etc.) but the Cats do have contributors at each spot, including a couple of guys who should be able to stretch the floor. The downside of this balance (I guess) is that none of the players on this year's team figures to be as good as John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins. The 2010-11 Cats will have a whole different look going on.
Have you read the recent article that interviewed the 20 NCAA coaches at the Peach Jam. What do you think about all of the "cheating" and "status" of NCAA bball?
You're referring, of course, to Dana O'Neil's amazing piece published yesterday featuring the anonymous candor of 20 coaches at the Peach Jam Invitational. The link is here: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/columns/story?columnist=oneil_dana&id=5398415. Dana would be far better to answer your questions about her interviews. In a general sense, though, my thoughts -- and I say this as a still-naive, relatively young greenhorn -- is that the piece proves how widespread and insidious the dark side of college hoops recruiting really is. You hear stuff, sometimes true and sometimes false, but it's much different when an anonymous head coach is being so frank. It's depressing. But it is also good to know that the NCAA is being more vigilant than ever about the biggest problem in college basketball, agents. That's a start.
Where do you see my alma mater, Marquette, ranking in the Big East this year? Will Johnson-Odom or Butler be first-team all Big East? You'd think so considering 42 players make the first team.
I think Marquette is a top five Big East team this season, and could be better than that. Butler and Johnson-Odom could both be all-Big East, and Vander Blue, the seventh-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2010, will be a big scoring boon.
What's your take on the Syracuse incoming class and how the new Melo and Co will fare this season?
I'm no recruiting expert, that's for sure, but it's hard not to like an class as good as Cuse's. The numbers say it all: Fab Melo is the No. 1 center in this class, Dion Waiters is the No. 2 shooting guard, C.J. Fair is the No. 13 small forward, and Baye Moussa Keita is the No. 13-ranked center. Melo will benefit from playing alongside Kris Joseph, and the returns of Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche will make it so those freshman guards can ease themselves in. Syracuse is positioned very well for the next few years.
Will Georgetown be a force to contend with in the big east this year?
Losing Monroe hurts. (I'm Captain Obvious, and I'm here to bring you such facts as this.) But Georgetown returns the majority of its lineup for 2010-11, and the guard combination of Austin Freeman and Chris Wright should be very tough for opposing teams to stop.
Do you see Oliver Purnell turning around DePaul?
If any coach -- or at least any coach that would have realistically taken the DePaul job -- can do it, it's Purnell. What he did at Clemson is a blueprint for slowly building a reservoir of talent and bringing a typically apathetic fan base along for the ride. The problem with DePaul is a bit more intractable: Facilities. Until the school gets a new arena nearer to its pretty campus here in Chicago, Purnell will struggle to recruit. It's just not the most appealing place to play your college basketball.
Eamonn, who do you think is going to win player of the year?
Kyle Singler is the obvious favorite. I think Jacob Pullen, Kalin Lucas, Harrison Barnes, Kyrie Irving, Robbie Hummel and maybe a couple of others could contend, but someone is going to have to noticeably dethrone Singler for it to happen.
How do you see the threat of an NBA lockout affecting this years crop of possible one and dones? Do you see more of them staying a 2nd year due to that threat? Do you think Selby combined with the other returning players gives KU a goos chance at the Final 4?
For the first question, yes, quite possibly. The looming potential lockout could force a lot of players back to school for another year. Why go pro when the league isn't even allowing its existing players to play? That seems awfully risky to me. And for your second question, I think Kansas should be good, but Final Four at this point is slightly premature. Selby will be the catalyst.
Does loosing Dom. Sutton (on top of Clemente and Colon) hurt K-State's season in a significant way?
It's a bummer for K-State fans, I guess, but I think that has more to do with the surprising nature of Sutton's departure than his actual contributions on the court. He's a good player, but with Curtis Kelly in a featured role this season, K-State should be just fine in the low post.
Eamonn, I'm going to need you to increase the pace of this chat or I'll be forced to penalize you.
Gah! The chat ref returns! All right, let's pick up the pace.
Carolina had a subpar season last year, and that's putting it mildly. Is this year a going to be better? Will we get into the Big Dance?
I think North Carolina should rightfully expect to get back to the NCAA tournament this year. The recruiting class is loaded, Harrison Barnes could be a star, Tyler Zeller is back from injury and John Henson is (reportedly) packing on the pounds. The next step is limiting turnovers and getting back to that fast-paced-but-unhurried UNC attack that works so well when Roy Williams has the guards to power it.
How is PITT not involved in the Summer Series? Is it due to the Ireland trip? I mean, PITT is shaping up to be a consensus top 10 team (many sites have them top 5) to start the year, is CLEARLY the best team in the BE, yet that's not enough to warrant apart of the Summer Buzz? What Gives?
Since others have had this concern on Twitter and elsewhere, let's handle it here: I wouldn't get too caught up in who's included in Summer Buzz and who's not. There are a lot of teams that should belong, but there's limited space, and since we're still a ways away from really previewing the season, consider Summer Buzz to be a minor holdover until we get to what lies ahead. (Plus, I didn't decide the teams The Mag is covering, so don't get mad at me. It hurts my feelings. I'm sensitive.)
Your Final Four, Championship Game and winner for 2011?
Whew. I reserve the right to change these predictions hundreds of times between now and March, but for the fun of it, let's say Duke, Michigan State, Purdue and Kansas State. I'm sure that will be completely wrong by Dec. 1, but as it stands, I think those are the best four teams in the country to start the season.
Is this Duke team as talented as their 1999 squad?
Well, I wouldn't go that far. Those millenium teams were loaded. But this Duke team has the chance to be very, very good. Let's hold it there, for now.
Pick up the pace! I can chat faster than this...
Right back at you, chatters. Need more questions or we might have to wrap soon.
How good is Curry?
I assume you mean Seth Curry, and by all accounts, he plays like a not-quite-as-good version of his older brother Stephen.
Which is still pretty good, might I add.
How good will Perry Jones be as a true freshman at Baylor this year?
Again, no recruiting expert, but there's reason to be bullish. Our own Fran Fraschilla sees Jones as the second-best NBA prospect in the arriving class. (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/blog?name=nba_draft&id=5394612) I'll be interested to see if Jones can replicate some of Ekpe Udoh's athleticism and dominant interior defense, because if so, Baylor will be scary-good.
Best conference in the country this year? Is that the most boring, over-used talking point in the college basketball discussion every year?
Yes, God, it is. I mean, it's fun to debate, and some fans really take a lot of pride in "rooting for a conference," which is cool, I guess. But as a discussion that has actual impact on the way the season plays out, I'm not sure "which conference is best" really matters much. With that said, I think the Big Ten will be the best conference in the country in 2010-11. Ahem.
Throw us bone here....I'm tryin to pick your brain-----Give us YOUR opinion on the 1 and done rule.
My opinion on the one-and-done rule is pretty conventional. For selfish reasons, I like it, because I like watching the best talent in the country play college basketball, even if it's just for one season. More generally, I think a hybrid system like baseball's is the way to go. And I also think that there are so few one-and-done players each year that we probably spend and outsized amount of time complaining about it.
What's more fun, watching Big 10 basketball or watching paint dry?
That depends how fast the paint is drying. What's its adjusted tempo?
Hey Eamonn, I was wondering how you think the loss of Scottie Reynolds will affect Villanova this year, do they still have enough talent to make a run?
Make a run? Sure. The Wildcats are still very talented, even without Reynolds. But replacing a player like Reynolds isn't just tough for obvious basketball reasons -- it requires a major adjustment throughout the team in regards to leadership, ball management, possession, all of that.
2002, 2000...they last time Big Ten won a championship in football and hoops respectively. Why again do we overrate the Big 10 every year?
First of all, your argument contains a logical fallacy. Just because the best team in a conference doesn't win an NCAA title doesn't mean that conference isn't the best in the country in terms of overall depth. Second of all, I think the Big Ten is overrated sometimes, and other times it's been underrated. Which makes it pretty much like every other conference in the country over the past 10 years.
Why are you so high on KSU? KU is the reigning 6 time Big 12 champs with two 1st rounders in Selby and Marcus Morris, plus KSU just lost their defensive stopper in Sutton.
How can you pick K-State as the leader in the Big 12? KU is deeper and more talented. Pullen will be lost with out Clemente. Did K-State give you a free farming class to get you to pick them in the Final 4 and to win the conference?
Uhoh, the Jayhawks fans are out! Some valid points here, and I don't mean to discount Kansas' chances at winning the Big 12 title -- they very well could. But deep as they are, I still find it hard to believe a team that lost Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry, and Cole Aldrich will be able to recover so quickly.
What do you predict for Uconn this year after such a disappointing year?
Unfortunately, more of the same. The Huskies have some talent, and Kemba Walker is a fun player to watch, but they don't have the elite guys they've had when Calhoun's teams have been at their best. The best you can hope for is some addition by subtraction, and that Walker can fully make this team his own.
Is this the year Northwestern finally makes the big dance?
If ever, yes. The Wildcats get star Kevin Coble, who missed all of last year with an injury, back, as well as pretty much everyone from a team that still flirted with the NCAA for much of the season last year.
Best PG in the country next year?
If Pullen plays the point enough to qualify, it's him. I could see Irving, Selby, Brandon Knight and maybe even Brandon Triche making runs at that crown, though.
How do you like the Buckeyes heading into this year? The loss of Turner obviously hurts, but Sullinger looks for real.
I saw Sullinger play against elite college big man at the Nike Skills Camp in Chicago this summer, and he is the real deal. He could probably get into a little bit better shape, but he still had some very impressive sequences against some pretty good competition. Combine him with OSU's other recruits and veterans like Buford, Lighty and Diebler returning, and Ohio State is one of a handful of teams that could conceivably win the Big Ten again this year.
I think Coach K is one championship away from standing alone as the #1 all-time college basketball coach, overtaking Wooden given the differences in the game from then to today. Agree or disagree?
Now THIS is a question best suited for a long, rambling blog post, and not a chat. I will say that five titles in the modern era plus the all-time wins record, which Coach K should easily eclipse, will give K a legitimate argument as being the best college hoops coach of all-time. I'm not ready to make that argument. But it could be made.
At exactly how many levels of dreaming should I plant the idea in my friend's head that UNC isn't the favorite to win every year?
If he's a lifelong Tar Heels fan, you might have to venture into unconstructed dream space. Good luck.
All right folks, I just realized I'm bumping up against the 90 minute mark, and while I'm as big a fan of the marathon chat as anyone else, I have to return to my harrowing game of Oregon Trail. I just narrowly avoided dysentery. Thanks for all the questions and comments. Be sure to check out the blog. And I look forward to chatting with you all again soon. Peace.