Mark Few's future, March Madness woes, all-glue nominations, more
Here we are, Hoopheads: The last college hoops mailbag of the season. It has been truly an honor and a pleasure filling in for
So with Selection Sunday now just a couple of days away, allow me bid farewell by dipping into the e-mailbag one last time.
It's good to get a Gonzaga question, because this team has really fallen off the radar since they got blown out by Memphis at home -- even as they won 15 of their last 16 games and the West Coast Conference tournament, yet again. Funny, but I can remember when Gonzaga was ranked in the top five and people were asserting that this would be the best team Few has ever had. Now, nobody is talking about them as a potential Final Four team. Maybe it's better for them to slip into the tourney under the radar, so they won't have to deal with the pressure of expectations that have tripped them up in the past.
To answer Bob's questions in order, I'd put their chances at an Elite Eight at about 15 percent. They'd probably have to knock off a one or two seed in the Sweet 16, and I don't see that happening. I love that Gonzaga can score, but they are still suspect defensively, and they have very little inside presence because their big men (
Regarding Few, the only jobs I can see him leaving Spokane for are Arizona or Oregon, if
Finally, regarding Bouldin and Daye, I honestly can't imagine either one is going to enter the draft. Daye is the better long-term prospect, but I don't know that he would be a first-round pick. Regardless, this program won't drop back one iota. Few has done an excellent job recruiting players who can thrive in this system, and he has enough young talent in the fold (
By the way, Bob, nice work reminding us of the 10-year anniversary of the first tourney run. Always brings to mind my buddy
I would never say never this time of year, but honestly it's hard to envision a scenario where Wake Forest could end up as a No. 1 seed. Certainly, if they won the ACC tournament they would have to be considered, especially if they beat Duke and North Carolina en route to the title. But here are two things working against the Deacs: Four of their five losses came to teams ranked outside the top 50 of the RPI (at Miami, vs. Virginia Tech, at North Carolina State, at Georgia Tech), and their nonconference strength of schedule is ranked 267th. So for Wake to get to the top line, not only would the Deacs have to win the ACC tournament, but among UConn, Pitt, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Louisville, several would all have to lose no later than the semifinals of their respective conference tournaments, and Memphis would have to fail to win the Conference USA tournament. Not impossible, I suppose, but not likely.
Brian has hit on the classic conundrum facing the tournament and the game in general. On the one hand, I think we all agree that the committee should not be in the business of playing politics. Their task is to select the 34 best at-large teams regardless of conference. Yes, that means not unfairly favoring the BCS leagues, but it also means not including an inferior mid-major just because it makes us all feel good.
On the other hand, we must always, always remember that while the NCAA tournament is ultimately about crowning a champion, it is not
Think of this way. One of the all-time iconic images of NCAA tourney lore is
I have a simple solution. The last four at-large teams from the BCS conferences should have to play road games the following year at the first four non-BCS teams left out of the at-large pool. Think there's a chance that rule will pass?
As for Niagara, I'd love to see them in the tourney, but it ain't gonna happen. Their nonconference schedule wasn't nearly as strong as Siena's, and they have three losses to teams ranked outside the top 100.
Once again, a faithful reader has hit on one of the hot-button issues in selection land. Yes, the committee uses the "eye" test on some level. I guarantee you the members of the committee watch as much basketball as anyone in the country. They are each also assigned a set of leagues that they must monitor extra close for injuries and other personnel issues, and then report those facts to the rest of the committee. Last year, they added a January meeting, on top of the weekend-before-selection conference call, so they can discuss all the leagues and all the teams and make fully informed decisions. Trust me, these guys don't miss a thing.
After watching all that basketball, it's only natural that they apply the "eye" test when making their final votes. This underscores the high degree of subjectivity in all of this. Sure, they're surrounded by reams of RPI data, but they're not told what to emphasize. Some look for good wins, others look for bad losses, still others weigh road games heavily or strongly consider strength of schedule ratings. And when it comes down to the last few teams (who are basically dead even anyway), they simply ask themselves, if I were a coach and had to play one of these teams, who would I least want to play?
The one aspect of Mike's question I would find fault with is grouping all the SEC teams under one umbrella. Conference affiliation means nothing, for better and for worse. What matters is who a team played, who it beat, and where those games occurred (home, road or neutral).
The easy answer is that Florida graduated all of the players who brought those two titles to Gainesville, and it takes time to reload (if not rebuild). And while it might be frustrating for Florida fans to see Kansas reload so quickly after winning a title, the truth is that as good a recruiter as Donovan is, it's still harder to recruit players to Florida than to Kansas. The main difference is a player like
That said, I do think Donovan could do a better job recruiting more blue-collar bruisers such as
As much as I'd like to believe Curry will come back to Davidson, I think there is zero shot that will happen. The Wildcats may have had a disappointing season, but that's not his fault. Curry will be a lottery pick and should be a borderline All-Star in the NBA. College ball will sure miss him.
Finally, it is fitting to end the 2008-09 Mailbag season with some reactions to my 10th annual all-Glue team. I only had a limited number of spots on the team and there were many, many good candidates. Let's start with what was by far the most thorough, most passionate and most convincing case for one of the players who did not make my list:
A lifetime achievement Glue Guy award? Now that's brilliant. As it stands, Anderson has definitely earned the title of best Glue Guy never to be named to the All-Glue team. (I should call that the
Again, a worthy suggestion, and again, this Glue stuff is in the eye of the beholder. One of the rules I go by is a glue guy cannot be the starting point guard. I've made one or two exceptions over the years, but since point guard is the most important position on the floor, by definition it can't be filled by a "role" player. I do agree with Scott that Frazier is a terrific defender, but since Walton was just named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year (admittedly a reflection of his playing on the league's best team), I believe my choice has been validated.
Here are my thoughts on other names you all submitted for consideration: