Hey everyone: Had a bit of a scheduling mixup, but we're going to get this thing going ... well, right now, actually. Hit me up with your college hoops questions and let's kick it.
I'm a UConn fan, so I will NOT ask you how deep my team will go in the NCAAs. But what about the possibility that Omar Calhoun, Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright make up the best backcourt in the Big East?
Well played, John. You have followed the one rule of my college hoops chats (but maybe only because you were forced to? Eh we'll let it slide).
I like Shabazz a lot, both as a player and as a kid -- it was hard to see him struggle so much with the post-Kemba leadership role last season. I think he'll get there this year. Boatright, on the other hand, I've yet to see much I like. Lots of bad shots and questionable decisions last year. Calhoun I've only heard good things about; he has huge potential. All together, no, I don't think that's the best backcourt in the Big East. I'm taking Syracuse there. But I don't think UConn will fall off the map quite like some are predicting.
Do you have any information or outlook for Hanner Mosquera-Perea and his eligibility determination? I know Crean and everybody involved as to stay mum about it, but doesn't this need to be resolved this week? How long could the uncertainty continue? Is there a drop-dead date that HMP would no longer be eligible for this season?
It doesn't necessarily need to be resolved this week, actually. In past eligibility cases -- the most notable (or at least most extreme) example would be Renardo Sidney -- the NCAA has taken exactly as much time as it has needed to reach its conclusion. In that case, it was almost Sidney's entire freshman season. So it could drag on for a while. I don't think it will; I think the NCAA will get something done (as well as on Shabazz Muhammed) by the time the season starts. But there is no halt date, unfortunately. The uncertainty continues.
Will Sandy have an affect on any early season tournaments?
That is an excellent question. To date, we haven't had any announcements to that effect. I would tend to doubt it, especially because the NBA has resumed playing in MSG and the Barclays, and those would probably the most affected areas in which there are also preseason tournaments.
Ahem, early-season tournaments. Not preseason. You know what I mean.
How does Boeheim deal with Rakeem Christmas and Dajuan Coleman at the center/ pf spots this year? Both prefer center
And I prefer to write sitting on a beach while comely ladies fan me with palm frond. Sometimes we don't get to have all of our preferences, do we? I have a feeling Coach Boeheim will communicate something similar to his young big men this season. I wouldn't worry about it.
It looks like Remy Abell improved the most over the summer for the Hoosiers. Do you think he could be a real threat against top-notch teams? I think he fits well into the system in that he can play the point but also have the threats of shooting and driving - both of which he's now pretty good at.
I like Abell a lot, yeah. My question is where he fits in the rotation right now, and how deep Tom Crean is going to want to go with his rotation throughout the season. I don't think you want to take Yogi or Hulls off the floor much if you don't have to, and Oladipo and Sheehey are essentially big guards, plus Maurice Creek is looking like he has a role to play. That's a lot of backcourt depth.
Isn't Cal a little overrated in the PAC-12 media poll? Obviously Allen Crabbe is very good, but it will be hard to replace Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez.
Don't forget Justin Cobbs, who had a really nice season last year. I like Colorado and USC, and thought both were ranked too low, so I can see what you mean, but I think that Cal vote is as much about their recent solidity under Montgomery as it is a genuine prospectus about this year's team.
I am a huge Cincinnati fan and am so glad to see them having success again. That being said, do you think their frontcourt will hold up this year? Justin Jackson is really the only proven guy, and he can't stay out of foul trouble.
That is the single biggest question about Cincinnati coming in. I've heard RealGM.com's Dan Hanner make the the statistical case that Cincy was actually much more dynamic without Yancy Gates in the lineup last season. So maybe Cronin can go full-Missouri and just spread things out with rangy, athletic guys. It'll definitely pose matchup problems with plenty of teams in the Big East.
Are you just a fan of this feature? Because ... me too?
Is the Big East going to fizzle out this year? I don't feel like the conference can continue to be a basketball super power and that this is the year it all comes crashing down.
That might be a little bit dramatic. First of all, conference strength is a tricky argument. Even in the years when the Big East had four or five great teams at the top, it also had the DePauls and South Floridas of the world dragging it down (USF has long since improved). I don't think the Big East is nearly as good as it has been over the past five years, whether at the top or pound-for-pound throughout the league, but it still has some very good teams/programs in there. After realignment, it won't be the same.
UK vs Transy tonight. Who ya got?
I just like that we're calling Transylvania "Transy."
Prediction for Doug McDermott PPG?
I'll go with 23.0, right where he was last season. It's going to be really hard to replicate last season's efficiency. I think he can do it, but anything more is a stretch.
Who will be the best player for the Orange this year?
Louisville always finds a way to come up short in March ('08-'09, '04-'05). Do you think this will be the year they break through and cut down the nets in Atlanta?
This runs perilously close to my "no NCAA tournament predictions" chat rule, but I will say this: Louisville will probably have its ups and downs this season. It will struggle to score at times. There may be a game or two in Big East play where you're just like, avert your eyes, no more, etc. But come tournament time that defense is real, and that's what wins in March. So yeah, they have a really good chance.
After playing in Germany against UCONN and coming back and facing Kansas a few days later is a 2-0 start possible?
I don't know about you guys, but the one time I traveled overseas (to Ireland for 10 days), when I came back I wasn't right, circadian rhythm-wise, for at least a few days afterward. I was basically a zombie. So it's tough for me to believe Michigan State will be at full bore against Kansas after it gets back from Germany. But we'll see.
The injury bug has hit us hard this year. Do we have an excuse for a slow start?
This isn't Bo Ryan, because he would never make this argument (or, you know, write into an online chat). It's not the kind of thing coaches want to ever say. But yeah, I think you have an excuse. Gasser was a major team leader; Brusewitz the same. He'll be back in a month or so, but the Gasser loss will resonate all season, and it'll be an adjustment, no question.
Your thoughts on Mizzou this season and just how good are Keion Bell and Ernest Ross?
I really like Mizzou. Normally I wouldn't know what to think of a team with so many transfers but a) Frank Haith did an excellent job with a totally new team last season and b) all of those guys but Oriakhi were around all last year, so I'm not hesitant at all. I think they can absolutely push Kentucky in the SEC. Keion Bell is probably the most athletic guy in the country.
Not much talk about young Purdue yet. Thoughts?
It's sort of a rebuilding year, but I don't expect Purdue to go into some extended recession phase. The class Matt Painter landed this year is of a type with the one that led to so much success in the past five years: Well-regarded guys from Indiana who all enter at the same time, and have major potential to grow together. They'll figure it out, and it won't take too long.
How do you think Marquette will perform this year? is another sweet sixteen birth out of the question for this year's team?
Not out of the question, no sir. Quite doable, in fact. I'm pretty high on Marquette, given what they lost. I like Cadougan and Mayo and Vander Blue on the perimeter. I think they'll get up and down and really get after people. It'll be a fun team to watch, and I don't think they'll drop off nearly as much as some do.
What is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the Hoosiers from making it to the Final Four?
We've discussed this a lot on the site this offseason, but it's defense, plain and simple. The Hoosiers ranked in the mid-60s in defensive efficiency last season (i.e. the number of points they allowed per possession) per KenPom.com. A good anecdotal example is the Sweet 16 loss to Kentucky. They went AT UK's defense for 40 minutes, scoring almost at will. And they still lost. I think IU will have the best offense in the country this season; the question is whether they get there on defense in time for a deep tournament run.
With a healthy Cady Lalanne and Sampson Carter, do you see UMass dancing?
They're definitely in that mix. Probably the biggest challenge is that A-10 -- it's going to be absolutely brutal.
So Murray state, is the hype over for them or will they make more noise this year?
I think Isaiah Canaan will make noise, yes. He's too good not to. The ball will be in his hands a ton, he'll put up huge numbers, all that. However, I the team in general won't be nearly as good as last year's 31-2; they lost a lot in Poole and Aska (and Jackson).
do you think Peyton Siva is a top 15 draft pick?
No. Don't get me wrong: He's a great defensive player. But he's 6-foot-0 and shot like 24 percent from 3 last year. So, no.
Do I have the best front court in the Pac-12?
One of the two best, yes. To me, that all depends on UCLA's Joshua Smith, whether his body is in check, whether he's going to come even remotely close to his potential. Because if he is, he and Tony Parker and the Wear Twins are really good. But there's no question Miller's frosh could push them to that level. Grant Jerrett is especially intriguing.
I've seen a lot of posts lately on ESPN about mid-majors that are capable of final four runs, is San Diego State in that mix?
Capable of it? Sure. The NCAA tournament is insane to predict, which is why I steer clear of the "how far can my team go?" questions you tend to get this time of year. (OK, all times of year.) I am a bit bearish on SDSU, because they really escaped from a lot of near-losses last season (and weren't as impressive on a per-possession basis as their W-L suggested) and if that trend reverses, they could be seen as a disappointment. But if they play the kind of defense Steve Fisher is famous for in his tenure there, then yes, they have that potential.
Louisville vs Kentucky on December 29th @ KFC YUM! Center. Who wins the battle of the Bluegrass?
I'll take Louisville on their own floor. This UK team will just then be rounding into shape. But it'll be another excellent addition to the rivalry, I'll guarantee you that.
All right folks, I've got another appointment to get to, and much more work yet to be done, so I'm going to wrap things up here for now. Thanks for all of your questions and participation. Keep an eye on the site as we continue our preview roll-out. Peace!