Hey everybody -- welcome to ESPN NY's first live chat of the college hoops season!
I've spent the past two days at the St. John's exhibiton opener, and Rutgers and Seton Hall media days. Happy to take your questions on those teams, the rest of the Big East, and all of the other local college hoops teams.
Who of the New York schools are going dancing this year? I'm thinking Iona, LIU and Stony Brook...
It's only October 27 Jeff! Selection Sunday is a long ways away. But your three selections should all be in the mix. Iona picked first in the MAAC, Stony Brook picked second in America East, and LIU the defending champ in the NEC. Iona's the best team of those three -- with their talent, the Gaels can make the Big Dance AND win a game or two.
Who do you think will be the best player on St. John's this season?
Great question -- I'd like to see more than one exhibition game before I give you my answer. There are a few candidates. But, put me on the spot -- I think Moe Harkless is the most talented player on this team, even though he didn't play as well as some of the others on Tuesday night. Harkless MUST stay out of foul trouble -- he picked up two quick charges in the first half against C.W. Post, and sat the rest of the half.
Is Mike Rice going to have all these freshman ready in time for BE play?
Well, Kadeem Jack won't be ready for a long while because of his injury, and that's a huge loss. But I think Rice will have the rest of them as ready as they can be. They'll get some good experience in the nonconference schedule -- overall, 13 of Rutgers' 18 oppponents this season played in a postseason tourney a year ago. But I believe freshman can't understand what the Big East is like until they've been through it.
Any chance Rutgers is better than .500 this year?
Well, one of Mike Rice's goals for the season is to finish above .500 in the Big East, something Rutgers has never done before. That will be a challenge, but I wouldn't rule it out. I do think they will finish better than .500 overall.
Do you think Mike Moore can handle the lead role on Hofstra this year with Jenkins gone?
Well, he's gonna have to -- but Charles Jenkins is one of those guys that's simply irreplaceable. So hopefully Moore doesn't try to replace him, but just tries to step up his own game. Moore's a good player, but remember that defenses will be keying on him much more this season.
Is SJU still under the assumption that Norvelle Pelle is coming in Dec? and if he does along with Amir Garrett will they be an NCAA team
I think St. John's is planning as if they will have to go with the team they put on the floor Tuesday night -- if any of those three players who were declared ineligible in September get eligible by December and join the team, it's a huge bonus. (Amir Garrett sounds determined to join the Red Storm in December, if you follow his Twitter account.) Adding even one of them would be a big plus. But in terms of the NCAA tournament -- I think it's rather pointless to make any prognostications about this St. John's team, because it's almost completely brand new. It's going to be a fascinating season, full of ups and downs I'm sure.
Kieran, which st johns player has surprised you the most? Phil Greene? Godsgift?
Phil Greene was the biggest surprise on Tuesday night, for sure. I'd heard he could handle the ball and play defense, but did not expect him to be raining treys. Assistant coach Mike Dunlap raved about Greene after the game, saying he has been a pleasant surprise in practice so far, and expects him to continue to blossom as time goes on. That would be big for St. John's, because he was certainly not one of the most heralded of their recruits in this class.
Big things going on at Wagner College. The Hurleys are making it happen. Care to agree or disagree?
Certainly agree, John. Dan, along with Bobby and the rest of the staff, did a very nice job last season, and I expect that progress to continue this season, challenging defending champ LIU in the Northeast. Looking forward to Wagner vs. UConn on Nov. 14.
How long until st. john's gets the zone sorted out? It seems like they started to pick it up at around the time of the holiday festival last year. I don't know whether having so much youth is beneficial or not in this regard (versus last year's team). It doesn't seem like they lack for offensive talent
It'll take a while, Joe. Multiple members of the coaching staff have said that this team is much more talented offensively than last year's team -- Rico Hines said he believes they have three or four different players who can off for 20-plus on any given night. But defensively, as Mike Dunlap after Tuesday night's exhibition, they're still trying to get all these talented offensive players to "buy in" defensively. The goal, said Dunlap, is the same as last year -- to get this team peaking in February, and see where they can go from there.
How much of a struggle will it be for st johns to compete in the big east with only 1 true post player and zero shot blockers?
Well, a BIG struggle at times, I'm sure. At Big East media day, Mike Dunlap said foul trouble will be one of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest concern, with this team all year. God'sgift and Moe Harkless in particular have to figure out a way to stay on the floor, despite banging down low.
Which Rutgers freshman makes an immediate impact?
Well, as I wrote yesterday, I think the three guards -- Mack, Carter and Seagears -- are all gonna get a chance to play a lot. And I was very impressed with their speed and quickness, watching practice on Tuesday. With Kadeem Jack out until February or so, fellow frosh Derrick Randall and Greg Lewis are gonna get a big opportunity inside, even though they weren't as ready as Jack. I will tell you, I really liked Seagears' swagger in particular, from talking to him and watching him practice.
Any update on the health of Coach Lavin?
The assistant coaches tell us he continues to improve -- Lavin is designing each day's practice plan from home, after watching a DVD of the previous day's practice. We'll see if he's on the bench for the next exhibition game, this coming Tuesday. I'd say it's more likely we'll see him for the first regular season game, on Nov. 7 vs. William & Mary, but that's more speculation on my part at this point.
Does it seem that the Rutgers kids playing together over the summer gave them a leg up?
I think it definitely helps, playing together in the Jersey Shore League. The more chemistry you can develop coming into a new season with a very new team, the better -- and the players I spoke to on Tuesday all said the chemistry has been very good so far. A couple of them brought up the summer league specifically.
What if any impact does losing Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC have on the future of BE basketball?
Well, it has a huge impact -- but we won't know just how much until all the rest of this conference realignment takes place. For somebody like me, who grew up reveling in the Big East and its traditional rivalries, the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh is devastating. I'm just glad I get to cover at least one more season, and one more Big East tournament, with those two schools in it.
OK guys, my time is up here for today -- thanks for all the questions, and we'll do this again next week!