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April 3, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Dana O'Neil

Dana O'Neil
  (2:00 PM)

Greetings everyone and happy Final Four week!

Jillian Hahn (Massachusetts)

Dana, in reading your story on Jim Boeheim today, it seems like he is really enjoying the ride this season. Do you think 2003 took a lot of the pressure off and allowed him to (despite his periodic media showdowns) really take it all in?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:01 PM)

Jillian: I think there is less pressure, always, when you've got one title under your belt so I think that helps ease things at bit for Boeheim. Thoug he insists it's nothing different.

Seth (St. Louis)

So.. Mike Rice? That escalated quickly huh?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:01 PM)

Seth: Uh yeah. No surprise but frankly it should have happened months ago

Sue Berman (Lawrinson, NY)

Hi Dana! How much stock do you put in Coach Beilein's 0-9 record vs. Coach Boeheim?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:02 PM)

Sue: Well this is by far a much more talented team than Beilein has ever had so in some regards it shouldn't matter. But the issue of breaking and dealing with the zone is huge and Beilein hasn't solved the riddle

Joe (Raleigh)

I believe the Michigan v. Syracuse game will determine the National Champion. If Michigan beats Syracuse, Louisville will be the NC. If Syracuse beats Michigan, Syracuse will beat Louisville. Thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:03 PM)

Joe: Well I think Louisville doesn't want to see Syracuse again, for sure. The second half of that Big East game is what people remember but the first half ought to count, too. So I get the point. But I think Louisville is winning regardless.

Ben (New Mexico )

What do you think of UNM new head coach can he takes us were we've never been?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:05 PM)

Ben: I like the idea of continuituy very much. Good for the program. Good for the players returning. As for an NCAA win, it's hard to say. It's his first D1 job

Mark B. (San Diego)

Hi Dana - thoughts on Enfield to USC? I was surprised how quickly that happened for him. Thought Hopkins from SU would have been a great fit (he interviewed there).

Dana O'Neil
  (2:06 PM)

Mark: I was a little surprised, too. It's a win the press conference hire, for sure and I think he's proven he can coach but he did also finish second in the ASun. It could very well work out. Hot name, so might be good for recruiting. But I agree. Very surprised it happened so fast, especially with folks like Hopkins and Gregg Marshall out there.

Zach (Henderson ky)

How good will Indiana be next year??

Dana O'Neil
  (2:07 PM)

Zach: Good. Maybe not No. 1 ranking good but think Crean has things rolling now. A lot to replace but he has a lot of guys who were on teh bench this year watching and that'sa good thing.

Jack (Minnesota)

Any word on who Minnesotas new coach might be? Firing Tubby was a mistake IMO.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:08 PM)

Jack: Haven't heard much, to be honest. I get why they fired Tubby when you look at the results. Also probably felt like had to take a swing at Shaka but it will be tough to match him.

Russ (New York)

How do you see the scholarship situation working out at Kentucky next year?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:09 PM)

Russ: Well it's getting a little clearer, right? I mean Goodwin is gone. Harrow is gone. My guess is a few guys will be asked to become walk ons. The numbers always work out even if the process isn't terribly palatable.

Brian (NYC)

Dana, Syracuse zone D is putting up some gaudy numbers in the tournament. Do you think this continues against Michigan, one of the most effecient teams in terms of offense? Thanks!

Dana O'Neil
  (2:10 PM)

Brian: Pretty big test for both sides but Michigan is so young. I wonder if they will get frustrated. Absolutely have to be smart and make shots. I don't think the Wolverines will score like they're accustomed to.

Habib (CO)

After Gonzaga lost to Wichita, many automatically proclaimed them as overrrated. However, I'm inclined to believe their still a top 5 team. Thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:12 PM)

Well I always have a problem discrediting a team's entire season for one 40 minute game. Is Indiana bad because it lost? No. Ditto Gonzaga. Maybe the Zags were slighly inflated but you can't say they didn't do what was asked, which is win games. Plenty of others lost bad games this year.

Al (Wausau, WI)

Hi, Dana. Do you feel optimistic about the Iowa Hawkeyes as a possible NCAA Tournament contender next year? They're playing very well in the NIT this year.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:12 PM)

Al: 300 percent I do.

WitheyFACE (KS)

Only 191 days until Midnight Madness... should I just go into hibernation until then?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:13 PM)

Good glory, let me get to the title game!

Russ (New York)

How does Chris Collins sell recruits on Northwestern?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:14 PM)

Russ: Big Ten games. Big Ten network. Chicago. Playing time immediately and he coached at Duke. He knows what he's doing. Smart hire.

Jimmy (Texas)

On a A-F scale, with plus and minus, what grade would you give the selection committee this year after seeing the results from the past 2 weekends?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:14 PM)

Jimmy: I don't know that you can judge on the past 2 weekend. I prefer to judge on the regular season, so for that I'd give them a B. Some bad seed decisions, in my opinion.

Dan (Utah)

Who do u think wins the title game on Monday?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:14 PM)

Dan: Louisville.

Mark B. (San Diego)

Dana: what's the future hold for Kevin Ware? I worry that the fact that there was nothing unusual in the play he got hurt will weigh on him psychologically. I understand the prognosis for physical healing is good, is that correct?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:15 PM)

Mark: He seems pretty good already, which is huge and the rehab is so lengthy with so many steps that I gotta think by the time he's ready he'll be more than ready. It will be maybe scary to trust the leg at first but that's normal.

Joel Embiid (Florida)

Dana, am I gonna be the next great big man in college?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:16 PM)

Joel: That's entirely up to you, isn't it?

Seth (KC)

Do you know who is replacing Creighton in the MVC? UMKC and Oral Roberts have been thrown around.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:16 PM)

I've heard UMKC but don't know.

Haboobooo (CO)

Louisville only has one senior in their starting 5. They could potentially repeat, right?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:17 PM)

Repeating is really hard. My guess is Dieng is gone, too. So that's two. But they'll be very good.

Chris (CA)

Not sure why people aren't giving Michigan more of a chance against Louisville *IF* they get past Syracuse. Teams with one day of prep against Michigan have gotten completely destroyed. See VCU and Florida.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:17 PM)

Chris: Yes but do you think it's easy to prepare for Louisville on one day's rest ?Uh no.

Ted (Florida)

It seems this year's final 4 matchups pits two contrasting basketball philosophies: Louisville & Syracuse are great defensive teams that generate a lot of offense from their suffocating defense. Wich St. and Michigan have great offenses ... wanting a more up-tempo game. Your thoughts?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:18 PM)

Ted: I think Louisvile is perfectly fine uptempo, too. They'd love to speed teams up and make them uncomfortable. The whole season has been low scoring. I'm sort of hoping for a Final Four reward with points.

Jacob (Nashville)

Player that has surprised you

Dana O'Neil
  (2:19 PM)

Jacob: Left in the Final Four maybe a tie between McGary and Dieng. McGary only because he's come on so strong lately and Dieng because he's become such a better offensive player than he was a year ago.

Bart (Mississippi)

What are your thoughts Marshall Henderson...loud and overrated or aggressive and proud?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:20 PM)

Bart: Talented, loud, a little too much for my liking.

Tommy (Overland Park)

Which was a worse tournament collapse - Memphis vs KU in the title game or KU vs Michigan?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:20 PM)

Tommy: Wow. Think with time and place, I have to give the edge to Memphis. I mean that was hit free throws and you go home w/ a national title. It was unreal.

Jeff (NY, NY)

How dumb does the Rutgers AD come off looking? Why would you protect a coach that you could probably justify replacing based on wins and losses.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:20 PM)

Jeff: To me he looks fireable.

Chris (Miami)

Why is the zone so polarizing? Boeheim has run it for years, but this is easily his best defensive team ever. It's not a gimmick, he's just got the best athletes for the zone he's ever had.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:21 PM)

Chris: I think it's the players, absolutely. Mike Hopkins told me for a story I did today that he's never seen a freshman pick up the zone like Grant. They're also very experienced, which helps a lot.

Charles (San Jose)

Any comment on the fiasco that is the Pac-12 league office?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:22 PM)

Charles: Never heard anything like that. Don't care if he was 'joking' or not. You can't make that joke. Completley unprofessional and only begs coaches to distrust officials more. Awful.

Jordan (Michigan)

Do you think the key to Saturday's game will be Robinson's ability to guard CJ fair?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:23 PM)

Jordan: Definitley one of them. Fair gets overlooked sometimes and he's a huge huge threat for Syracuse because he can score in so many ways.

Hayden (Toronto)

Will the Kevin Ware injury hurt or motivate Louisville?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:23 PM)

Hayden: Certainly a motivation but there's no denying that his absence is huge for Louisville. Siva and Smith can't get in foul trouble at all. But they will need a breather and then it's on Tim Henderson. It's a big issue.

Russ (New York)

Where does Boeheim fit on the list of all-time great coaches? And will Cuse's performance in Atlanta change where he belongs on the list?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:24 PM)

Russ: OH he's on the list, for sure. Already in the Hall of Fame. 900 wins. Titles aren't everything.

Sam (Ohio)

This Mike Rice situation isn't good obviously. But is it really any worse than Bob Knight screaming at his players at Indiana and throwing chairs, and choking a player. There was video evidence of that too and look how long it took to fire him.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:25 PM)

Sam: Two wrongs don't make a right. Whatever Indiana did or didn't do is Indiana's problem and ancient history. This is the here and now and Rice was flat out wrong.

Jackie McPartland (California)

How is your bracket, Dana?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:25 PM)

Jackie: hahaha. I have one team left - Louisville - and have the Cards winning it all. Otherwise, it's in the trash heap.

david (Boston)

People keep pointing to youth as a problem for Mich. Did they get frustrated when they couldn't stop Kansas inside?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:26 PM)

David: it's more a question of frustration offensively. This is a team that likes to score and Syracuse makes that extremely difficult to do. If the Wolverines get frustrated or sloppy against the zone, it's a big problem.

Bill Self (Lawrence)

So what are your thought on West Virginia next year? Big 12 champs?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:27 PM)

In a runaway. Oy

Joe (Cary)

You seem to always see Boeheim(and Syracuse) in a different light then most. I remember a similar article about a year ago where you described him differently then how he is perceived. What lead you to your conclusions about Boeheim?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:28 PM)

Joe: I just think how a person appears outwardly isn't how he is privately. And I base those conclusions more on people who know him a lot better than I do. He's cranky, prickly and all of those things that we see but I also know he's always been pretty forthcoming with me. So he's not as easy to explain as people might think

Griffin (NY)

Isn't the biggest advantage of the zone is preparation? It's much easier to control a star opposing player, and there's only a handful of plays to run against a zone compared to teams running 70+ plays against man.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:29 PM)

Griffin: Sure it's unfamiliar to most teams. And the Orange play it really well so it's a lot to digest. And as everyone says, you can practice it but you don't have the length, speed and experience that the Syracuse players have so you can't really mimic it.

Larry (Arvada)

Why did you and ther rest of the ESPN staffers on television and online... treat Duke's beatdown by Louisville as Duke barely losing... if Duke would have won by 22 the bias at ESPN would rave about the demolishing, destroying, killing, their opponent.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:29 PM)

I'm pretty sure I used words like demolished and flat footed etc. to explain how Louisville won. But feel free to not read what I wrote and assume.

Keith (Florida)

What do you think the chances of Otto Porter returning to Georgetown are?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:30 PM)

Keith: Infinitessimal.

Frank (Wetumpka, AL)

Right now, Kentucky has three players coming back next year plus a stellar recruiting class. So, how is Coach Cal going to give playing time? Will he go deeper into the bench?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:31 PM)

Frank: Million-dollar question. He has a lot of people to keep happpy and just 40 minutes and one basketball. He's done it before but he's got to hope that the players have the right attitude. Extremely interesting sociological study.

Joe (Kansas City)

True or false -- in a game played with NBA rules, Michigan beats Syracuse almost every time.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:31 PM)

Joe: C. Irrelevant unless the NBA adds those teams to its roster.

david (Boston)

If you ask Pomeroy, Kansas has a better defense (number 1 in 2 point FG%) than Syracuse. Mich put up 87, albeit in overtime. Still they werent frustrated at all against a supposedly better defense

Dana O'Neil
  (2:32 PM)

David: Have you looked at Syracuse's number in the tourney? They've allowed 183 points. In four games. Teams are shooting 15 percent from the arc. I'm not discounting Kansas but you've got to give this zone credit. It's been crazy good.

Ben (Charlotte)

going back to the UF/UM elite 8 match up, i was baffled by the coaching performance for Billy Donovan. did he even scout Nik Stauskas? just shocking to see a team coached by Donovan come in that un prepared ...

Dana O'Neil
  (2:33 PM)

Ben: No idea what happened there. My guess is he knew what was coming but his players didn't listen or get the message. All I know is there was a point where I actually laughed out loud when Stauskas hit his third 3 from the exact same spot. They could have put a body outline on the floor.

Larry (Arvada)

no you did not... your heading and NO other heading on ESPN online talked about the beat down... instead it said things like L'ville rallies around fallen teammate... which seems to me as they won in the final minutes.. not destroy and overrated and over hyped Duke team.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:34 PM)

Try the whole story, not just the headline.

Kyle (Wichita)

If this is what a down year looks like for the Shockers, we have a down year every year.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:35 PM)

Kyle: Haha. No doubt. Very impressive and anyone who thinks WIchita State doesn't belong hasn't been paying attention.

Jacob (Nashville)

A team out of the Sec who makes the tourney that didnt make it this year

Dana O'Neil
  (2:36 PM)

Jacob: Kentucky

John (Syracuse)

Straight to the point, what will Syracuse have to do to beat Michigan on Saturday?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:37 PM)

John: Slow them down, force tough outside shots and score themselves. The last may be the most critical. As good as the Orange's defense has been, the offense has not been very good all year. Can't afford that here.

Dave (RI)

Dana, Do you think Dan Hurley would leave after 1 season to go to Rutgers? He's def building somethere here at URI

Dana O'Neil
  (2:38 PM)

Dave: I do think so, whether that seems wrong or not. It's a huge step up, especially with teh Big Ten around the corner.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Is the latest Plumlee ready to fill the void in the middle of the Duke roster. The Devils appear to be pretty thin upfront next season?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:38 PM)

Tony: Agree and though I haven't seen enough of Plumlee Redux to judge I'm pretty sure he will be.

Xavier (Carlsbad, CA)

Alford and UCLA in Elite 8 next season?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:39 PM)

Xavier: Based on what? No. Simmer down.

Charles (Minnesota)

Who got the best hire for their program: USC, New Mexico, UCLA, or Texas Tech?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:39 PM)

Charles: Hmmm... good question. I don't hate any of the hires, frankly. All decent fits, good coaches, etc. I think Texas Tech might win, though, because Tubby can coach. Expectations are at zero there, too.

Dan (Charlotte)

What are your final 4 predictions?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:41 PM)

Dan: Louisville over Wichita State; Syracuse over Michigan. Louisville wins it all. ACC and Big East fight over who gets to claim title in media guide.

Tim (Indy)

Zeller at IU next year?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:41 PM)

Tim: I seriously doubt it. Wish, but doubt it.

Michele (AZ)

How would you rank the talent of the teams left in the tourney?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:41 PM)

Michele: Tricky question because crazy as it sounds, talent isn't always everything. But since you asked: Louisville, Michigan, Syracuse, Wichita.

Ryan (NYC)

Hi Dana. I know Scott/Rush are trying to say it was a "joke" but who tells the same 'joke" in two consecutive meetings with the same audience? Besides the fact that the officials went out that weekend and acted on said "joke" the only joke i see is that rush is still employed by the pac10

Dana O'Neil
  (2:42 PM)

Ryan: You don't tell that joke period. It's completely unprofessional and ridiculous.

John (Syracuse)

How far did MCW's draft stock rise after the tournament and do you think he will return for one more year?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:43 PM)

John: I'm not sure what he'll do but he's certainly helped himself. My guess is he goes. A 6-6 point guard playign this well. Tough to keep.

Chris (MI)

Who else leaves Michigan besides Burke? Hardaway? Robinson? McGary said he's 100% staying already.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:44 PM)

Chris: My guess is Hardaway for sure. Don't know about Robinson.

Dan (Charlotte)

If Cuse wins, what are the chances Boeheim retires a champion and goes out with the Big East?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:44 PM)

Dan: He says no but I wouldn't discount it. Maybe he waits a la Jim Calhoun to ensure Mike Hopkins gets the job.

Jon (Queens)

Since were talking bout UK, am I the only the one that dosent understand the hype around next years team? I completely understand that they have the best class probably in history, and I expect the team to be good. but acting like they will be a final 4 favorite or even close seems outrageous. All freshman starting backourt has never ben something to brag about, dont care how highly touted they are. last I checked they had the highest rated (or 2nd highst rated) class this season, and how did that work out? I get that there will actually be some carryovers from this season unlike last year, but they are still losing 3 of 5 starters. And your losing 3 of 5 starters from a 1st rd NIT loser, not a final 4 team like 2 years ago when they combined the carryovers from that team with the freshman to win the title.

Dana O'Neil
  (2:46 PM)

Jon: I do think that we've learned that turnover doesn't always work. Agree 100 percent but I also think that's why certain guys are sticking around this year. Certainly not ready to annoint Kentucky a Final Four team or anything like it. Be interesting to watch

Sal (Victor,NY)

Was it a smart move for USC to hire Florida Gulf Cost coach Andy Enfield after only 1 good season?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:46 PM)

Sal; I guess we'll see. Pretty big risk but his stock was also pretty high.

Jason (Lawrence)

I have to go from cheering on the Jayhawks to cheering on the Royals. This is just terrible...

Dana O'Neil
  (2:47 PM)

Jason: Dear Lord, I am so so sorry for you. Maybe take up another summer sport? Surfing in Kansas?

Nick (Evanston)

How high up does the Rutgers scandal go? You said Pernetti looks fireable, what about Pres Barchi? How do you think recent development that D didn't show Barchi the tape until Tuesday affect the situation?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:48 PM)

Well if the president didn't know, he can't be culpable. But if the president didn't know the AD has a big ole problem on his hands. It's just a mess at all levels.

Brent (St. Paul)

Is either game Saturday a blowout or will they both be competitive?

Dana O'Neil
  (2:48 PM)

Brent: Oh man, I hope they're both close!

Dana O'Neil
  (2:48 PM)

Alright folks. I've got to run. Time to pack and get my brain around the Final Four. Enjoy it and thank you for all the questions today and all season. Cheers!