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Roundball Chatter


• One of the great environments in college basketball is in East Lansing, Mich. That's right, the Breslin Center, the Izzone, where the Spartans are 17-1 this season. The lone loss there came against Ohio State, and the Buckeyes have sent many teams to defeat this season. Go ask the Wisconsin Badgers what it's like to visit East Lansing. Tom Izzo's team has responded to a rough schedule down the stretch. Drew Neitzel put up 28 big points against Bo Ryan's club in a 64-55 W on Wednesday. Michigan State is so tough to beat on that floor, and I look forward to seeing them this weekend against Indiana.

• Down at LSU, it has been disappointment, disappointment, disappointment. The reason is simple: check out the team's play on the perimeter. The backcourt play has not been outstanding and, in college basketball, you have to be able to excel on the perimeter. The loss of Darrel Mitchell from last year's team has been a major loss. Who would have ever thought that the Tigers, ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll, would be 3-10 in the SEC and just one game over .500 overall. With Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Tasmin Mitchell and Garrett Temple, it is hard to believe this squad is struggling to make the NIT. It all comes down to perimeter play.

• Did UNLV make a great hire in Lon Kruger? There is no doubt, my friends, and just look at his background. He did a great job at Florida, leading the Gators to the Final Four. He was solid with the Fighting Illini, and then went on to the NBA. When he came to Las Vegas, he instilled a defensive philosophy and got the players to understand shot selection. Oh, have they responded to their teachings, and Kruger is one solid winner. If you don't believe me, go ask the greatest to ever coach the Runnin' Rebels, Jerry Tarkanian; he flat out sings Kruger's praises. UNLV had a big win over Air Force earlier in the week.

• Mike Brey and the Notre Dame fans have to be excited with the success so far this season. Not many people thought the Irish would sit at 21-6 overall and 9-5 in the Big East. Colin Falls, Russell Carter and the veterans have really stepped up. Many people thought with the loss of Chris Quinn outside and Torin Francis inside, the Irish would have some trouble. It looks like Notre Dame's run of three straight years of missing the NCAA Tournament will end this season. Brey and his kids have laced them up, coming to play night in and night out. The Irish have been consistent all season.

• One of the more unsung players in the Big East is Providence's Geoff McDermott. He can do it all -- score, handle the ball, and a great feel for the game. He understands how to play and he is multi-skilled. Coach Tim Welsh has to be thrilled with his performance this season. Keep an eye on him in the future.

• It is a disappointing situation at Gonzaga. It doesn't look like Josh Heytvelt is going to return this season after his off-court legal issues. Talk about letting down your teammates as well as yourself. That will hurt the Zags in quest of an NCAA berth if the team fails to win the WCC tournament. If it is in the hands of the committee, the preseason schedule will be a great asset because Mark Few is willing to play anyone, anytime, anywhere. The question is, will that be enough? Heytvelt won't be part of the equation and that could be a factor since he was important in a number of early-season wins.

• Stanford got a nice break when Fred Washington was granted a medical hardship waiver for his season-ending injury last season, allowing his return to play for the Cardinal for the 2007-08 season. Washington only played in five games during the 2005-06 season before a torn patella tendon ended his season prematurely. The 6-5 forward has been a starter throughout this season.

• Recently on the Mike and Mike radio program, I was asked about fans storming the court to celebrate a win. Vanderbilt fans came onto the court after an upset win over No. 1 Florida. I wish there was a happy medium. You hate to see the danger of anyone getting hurt when fans went on the court. Some preach caution and I understand that. Others feel if it is done in the right way, fans being enthusiastic and doing things with good sportsmanship, I get that side of the story. I remember one time doing a UCLA-Arizona game and the fans stormed the court. The Bruins won and the students came flying onto the court, knocking us over, sending TV monitors flying. That was a scary scene and very dangerous. You don't want to hold back good, positive enthusiasm.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.