Chat with Dana O'Neil
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com basketball writer Dana O'Neil stops by to chat about the college basketball season.
O'Neil joined ESPN in 2008 after working for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Send your questions now and join O'Neil Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Dana O'Neil (2:01 PM)
Greetings from Siberia (aka suburban Philly) where my fingers are finally thawing out well enough to type.
Does the lack of a true veteran point guard for ohio state scare anyone other than me?
Dana O'Neil (2:02 PM)
John: Agree that is the one Achilles heel for the Buckeyes. Hasn't bitten them yet but as the season progresses - particularly in the successive games of the tourney - that could be a problem.
Timothy (Ft Benning, GA)
Now that Cam Newton has been ruled eligible, do you think this will effect the Enes Kanter appeal? And how much longer do you think it will take for a ruling?
Dana O'Neil (2:03 PM)
Timothy: Not sure that one will actually influence the other. Very different cases, though I understand Kentucky's attempt to use the loophole. As for timing, who knows? The NCAA is difficult to predict in situations like that.
Dana O'Neil (2:03 PM)
And I might add, Mark Emmert said in a meeting with reporters, including Andy Katz, yesterday, that the NCAA may enact emergency legislation to close that loophole. Convention is in mid-January. Could be interesting.
Who wins between a Duke team without Kyrie Irving and a Kansas team with Josh Selby?
Dana O'Neil (2:04 PM)
Matt: Ooh, tricky hypothetical that may pan out come March. I still think it would be mighty close. To discredit the rest of the Duke players would be silly. But maybe Kansas. Maybe.
Hey Dana - Seth Davis wrote about Pinkston's punishment being pretty harsh and compared him to Williams of UNLV and Dunn of Baylor whose offenses were on par or worse and were suspended for a few games each. Do you think that the harsher suspension on Pinkston could have been some sort of political move to help the argument of moving the football team from FCS to FBS? Sort of a "look we treat our athletes like regular students." Seems like this could be the case based on past incidents with their athletes.
Dana O'Neil (2:06 PM)
Jon: Not at all. I actually give Villanova credit on this one. They have a policy that is applicable to all students, athletes or otherwise. It's pretty black and white and frankly, that to me is a whole lot better than separate rules for separate parties. It's been in effect a while - remember Reggie Redding last year? And I honestly thought the slap on the hands to Willis and Dunn were insulting.
John E. (Springfield, VA)
Richmond is looking like a tournament team thus far. Do you think the Spiders could make a deep run in March with the right matchups?
Dana O'Neil (2:07 PM)
John: Was caught a little off guard by that loss to Iona because I really thought Richmond was one of the non-BCS teams worth watching. Now that they're getting their act together, still do. Could be the sort of team to surprise people, especially in the first weekend.
Dana -- we all know Tom Izzo's teams come together in March. But, what concerns me, is that this is a veteran group with the core of this team playing the last two Final Four--they really shouldnt be playing this poorly, something really seems off.
Dana O'Neil (2:08 PM)
Shawn: Kind of agree. I never, ever want to write off Izzo coached teams and I do think that Kalin Lucas' injury is a significant part of the problems. He's not 100 percent yet. But I expect more consistency out of Draymond Green, Durrell Summers and Korrie Lucious. Not sure what's what.
A good start for Syracuse but their lack of outside shooting will probably come back to bite them. Triche, Waiters and Jardine can all shoot and are in Jim Boeheims 8 man rotation. Do you see it turning around from outside
Dana O'Neil (2:10 PM)
Chris: I was either the knucklehead or the brain surgeon who picked the Orange to lose in the national title game, so clearly I think they can turn it around. These guys can and have shot well from teh outside before but there's no question, they absolutely have to. I think of Kentucky last year - eventually their inability to hit from the arc killed them.
Who is playing better Harrison Barnes or Jereme Richmond?
Dana O'Neil (2:11 PM)
Brandon: Richmond didn't have nearly the expectations on him and he has a more solid, more experienced crew around him. Not sure if it's fair to compare the two.
I know you're a hoops gal, but thoughts on Cliff Lee coming back to Philly?
Dana O'Neil (2:12 PM)
Mike: I'm a Yankee fan. That should sum up my thoughts pretty well.
Hey Dana, What do you think of E'Twaun Moore of Purdue? I've now seen every Purdue game this year and the kid just proves that he is one of the smoothest, silkiest players in the nation. And he is also become one of the best defenders as well. What are your thoughts?
Dana O'Neil (2:13 PM)
Ryan: Certainly one of the better players in the country who wasn't give his due because of the (deserved) attention on Hummel. Needs to stay that way for the duration, though, for the Boilers to have a chance.
Dana how big of an impact does the Volunteers loss have on their season? Does this kill any of the pitt win hype?
Dana O'Neil (2:14 PM)
Jack: Nah, it shouldn't. I mean, it's a crummy way to follow up a statement win, but Oakland is very good. Likely will win their league, so it's by no means a killer of a loss. Just so long as they don't have another hiccup at Charlotte ... especially now that Spears is gone.
How about some love for Oakland? Give them full credit for being willing to take on anyone, play them tough and in one case, winning. I don't think any big name is going to want to see them in March.
Dana O'Neil (2:14 PM)
Dave: Been giving it to them. Terrific team with a bonafide star in Keith Benson. That's the recipe for a team that should scare the bejesus out of teams come March.
DREXEL!!!!!!!!! Think they can ride the momentum into contending for the Colonial title. Great win over the Cards in the chicken shack though
Dana O'Neil (2:16 PM)
Matthew: CAA is pretty loaded with VCU and Old Dominion, but that was a heckuva performance by the Dragons. Haven't had that sort of pulse-moving win in a while.
timmy c (lancaster, pa)
Be toe-tally honest? what happens in the Kyrie Irving saga?
Dana O'Neil (2:17 PM)
Timmy: Ba-dum-bump. Dunno. I imagine they will exhaust everything before they resort to surgery and shutting him down. Let's face it, odds are he won't be here next season, so I'm sure Duke would love to get him back on the floor, even if it's only for March. That's just an opinion, though.
What do you think the chances are that my christmas wish will come true, and I will see a "free Enes"?!?!? If it happens what are the chances UK will make a trip to the final 4?
Dana O'Neil (2:18 PM)
Nick: I'd say you'd need some serious Christmas magic. Longshot, at best. But if it happens, things change dramatically. Credit Josh Harrelson for doing exactly what UK needs him to do right now but Kanter would change things dramatically.
JP (El Paso)
Baylor has a ton of talent and Perry Jones quietly gets a double double almost every game...yes it has been a soft schedule thus far, but can the Big Monday game vs Kansas in January possibly be two top 5 teams facing off? Did ESPN schedule that game because of that possibility?
Dana O'Neil (2:20 PM)
JP: I will say that yes, we and especially Nick Dawson, are that brilliant to project a top five game. OK, maybe not, but it's not hard to imagine that could be a good one. I'm not sold yet on Baylor entirely simply because they've played absolutely, positively no one. Beating Gonzaga will stand as their biggest win, should they win. Whoop-di-do. Not saying they aren't good. They are. But how good? I just don't know.
jake (Boston, Massachusetts)
Dana, how confident are you that URI will rebound from a 6-4 start?
Dana O'Neil (2:21 PM)
Jake: Hard to be overly confident, just based on the ugly losses Rhode Island has had to date. I guess Outerbridge helps when he gets in there but the A10 is pretty difficult. Rhode Island has to really get things moving here.
Dana, why were the UCONN men so underrated in the preseason polls?
Dana O'Neil (2:22 PM)
Justin: Because they were a disaster last year and were really young this year. The Huskies, to me, look like they're better having said goodbye to some of the less contented players of a year ago. And we all knew Kemba Walker was good but this good? Holy smokes.
Thoughts on the IU-UK game? To people who only saw the score it looked like a blow out, but IU was right with them pretty much until Mo Creek took that silly 3 off the break on that one play.
Dana O'Neil (2:23 PM)
Matt: I think Indiana fans need to remember it's still baby steps. Last year the Hoosiers were competitive for what? 10 minutes? This year it was 35. That's not being facetious. That's legit progress and remember, the recruits coming in are program changers. So I say there's reason to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Why isn't kendall marhall starting over drew II? At least give him the PT. He puts up similar numbers in half the time.
Dana O'Neil (2:24 PM)
Wes: Think it's turnovers. Yes Drew makes them, too, so it's a lesser of two evils.
Pitt is still the best team in the big east, right?
Dana O'Neil (2:25 PM)
Nick: Maybe but I'm less certain having watched that Tennessee game live and the Syracuse-Michigan State game live. Let's put it this way. I don't think the Panthers are quite as far ahead of everyone else as we originally thought.
Dana, So is the SEC the worst conference?
Dana O'Neil (2:26 PM)
Brad: The SEC West might be, but no, the honors still reside on the West Coast with the Pac 10.
Steven (Norfolk, VA)
Old Dominion has looked good with wins over Richmond, Xavier, Clemson, and Dayton. Do you think that they can win more than one game in the NCAA tournament?
Dana O'Neil (2:28 PM)
Steven: They gotta get there first. Not saying they won't, but remember the CAA is pretty tough this season and not sure how many teams they'll take. ODU has decent wins like you mentioned but they also lost to Delaware. Beating Mizzou would help tremendously. But to answer your question directly, yeah, if they get in, they're talented enough to win maybe two. Kent Bazemore is terrific.
Matt (The West)
Any hope for Gonzaga? Can they gel as a team?
Dana O'Neil (2:29 PM)
Matt: They'd better by Saturday. Absolutely need the win against Baylor to have something to show for that murderous schedule. You get brownie points for playing tough competition, but you can't lose them all. Steven Gray, I think, is the solution. He needs to settle things down.
Having an argument with a friend: Didn't you say that the Duke-UK game in 1992 is your all-time favorite? or one of your all-time faves?
Dana O'Neil (2:30 PM)
Dee: I did indeed. What's the beef?
Eric (Lexington, KY)
Would Kanter be as big of a story if he were still trying to get eligible at UW?
Dana O'Neil (2:30 PM)
Eric: Interesting question but I think so. Especially considering the struggles that UW is having right now. He'd be every bit as vital there, but you're right in one way: the glare and attention is magnified because it's Kentucky.
What is your opinion on the job Darrin Horn is doing at South Carolina? They have a ton of freshmen playing huge minutes every night. Your opinion on Bruce Ellington? Do they have a chance at knocking off the Buckeyes or will Sullinger be too much for them inside?
Dana O'Neil (2:31 PM)
Chris: Think D-Horn is doing a very good job. Very young team, as you said, but they're playing pretty well already. Though I think handling Sullinger is a bit much to ask.
How long until Jerome Allen has Penn back to the days of Fran Dunphy? Who is your pick to win the Ivy this year?
Dana O'Neil (2:33 PM)
Geoff: Gonna take a little time. Rome not built in a day. Or rebuilt in this case. I think Princeton might win it this year, which will make Penn fans all the itchier.
Where does Hoya Paranoia end up in the Big East?? Can they reach the Final Four??
Dana O'Neil (2:34 PM)
Shawn: Final Four? I'd be extremely surprised by that. Georgetown, to me, is a top four, top five team in the Big East.
Jordan Vaughn (Belle Union, Indiana)
Irving's absense for Duke isn't at all compared to the impact that Robbie Hummel's absense does to Purdue this season. Agree?
Dana O'Neil (2:35 PM)
Jordan: Nope, not at all. For starters it's not like Duke is bereft of decent fill ins for Irving. And their expectations were based on the play of Singler and Smith. Just like Purdue's were built on the return of Hummel. Completely different.
Mark (Kansas City)
Do you think KU (with Selby) is better than Duke (without Irving)? I'd say it's pretty close.
Dana O'Neil (2:36 PM)
Mark: Yeah that was brought up. Interesting question. Good debate fodder (future podcast material, thanks!). I'd say it's very close.
BTW you're Yankees didn't get Cliff Lee so um.. HAHA
Dana O'Neil (2:37 PM)
Well aware, thanks.
can unc make a run at the acc?
Dana O'Neil (2:37 PM)
Nic: Not unless Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler break their toes, too.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Sorry about to hear about your friend Phil Jasner's passing. He's another reason why Philly is such a great place to be a basketball fan. Any good Phil stories to pass along?
Dana O'Neil (2:38 PM)
Cosmo: Too many for this space. Phil was a true gentleman and professional. Never failed to have time for people, never grew jaded. I've already failed to live up to his standards but vow to try and improve. Thanks for the kind words.
Russ (Chicago, IL)
With Michigan State's struggles and the exceptional play of Demetri McCamey, that Illinois is the favorite now to win the Big Ten?
Dana O'Neil (2:39 PM)
Russ: I think people in Ohio might have something to say about that.
Is it just me or does college basketball just seem down the past two years? Once John Wall and company got knocked out the tourney wasn't even worth watching last year.
Dana O'Neil (2:39 PM)
Wes: So the Gordon Hayward halfcourt buzzer-beater that just missed making basketball history didn't do it for you, huh? OK. To each his own. Don't think it's down at all. Think it's been wonderfully unpredictable.
Is Draymond Green the best passing big man in the country?
Dana O'Neil (2:40 PM)
Corey: Among them, yes. Unbelievably unselfish... though I think it's about time he got a little selfish.
Have dynasties in college basketball become completely extinct with all these top players jumping to the NBA after just one year?
Dana O'Neil (2:42 PM)
Erik: Yeah, I think so. It's so hard to start from scratch every year with new guys. I think you'll see some regulars among the favorites each year since they attract the top talent. But the dominant team of many years is probably over. No more UCLAs, for sure. Except at Connecticut with the women's team.
the Heels are consistently bringing in 5 star recruits, but their play has been awful the past 2 years. what seems to be the problem?
Dana O'Neil (2:43 PM)
Kurt: Million-dollar question there. For starters they don't have a great point guard. Larry Drew II isn't the answer. I also think they just don't have any cohesion much of the time. Seems like a disjointed group to me.
Is BC for real? And is the URI game their biggest test of OOC play
Dana O'Neil (2:44 PM)
JJ: Not sold on BC at all, though I admire what Steve Donahue has done already. The good news is: the ACC is way down. May not be difficult to finish with a halfway decent record.
I was talking more from a talent stand point with guys that are amazing every time they are on the court like blake griffin john wall michael beasley ty lawson. Seems like there is not as much star power. And for me personally no a half court shot that misses isn't great basketball. I would much rather watch 40 minutes of superior talent.
Dana O'Neil (2:46 PM)
Wes: Gotcha. I think the talent is just so darned fleeting. Here and it's gone. I'd say Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones are worth watching, so those electrifying players are still here. And then they'll be gone.
Matt (Louisville, KY)
Why would Rick Pitino coach the Puerto Rican National team?
Dana O'Neil (2:46 PM)
Matt: I have no idea.
Thoughts on the upcoming Michigan State-Texas showdown in East Lansing next week?
Dana O'Neil (2:47 PM)
Corey: I'd say Michigan State needs to win. Texas is ultra talented but the Spartans' defense ought to be able to control them. Especially at home.
Rose (Madison, WI)
What do you think of Wisconsin this year? How dependent are they one Jon Leuers success to have a successful year as a team?
Dana O'Neil (2:49 PM)
Rose: You never ever count out a Bo Ryan team. They're just too smart and too fundamentally sound. I think Leuer is the glue and what makes the Badgers go, but Jordan Taylor is giving them something, too.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Let's say you have a son that is good enough to play at any school and smart enough to get in - what current coach would you want him to play for?
Dana O'Neil (2:49 PM)
Cosmo: I do have a son. He's six. So in 12 years, Joe Paterno will only be 96. Does that work?
The Gators are no looking too good, still have to play 3 good teams (K-State,Xavier, and URI) can they win those 3 games?
Dana O'Neil (2:50 PM)
Jarred: Agree. Looking a bit shaky. Can - and need to - win the last two of those three. The first is a bit of a tall order.
Dana, What is your opinion of Texas A&M this year? They haven't received much love but beat UW last week and are a quite 9-1.
Dana O'Neil (2:51 PM)
Seth: As always, solid defensively. Not sexy, but good, which is why they get no love. Could be a team that could shake things up some in the BIg 12.
To follow up on Wes's point, should it be two years before you can make the jump to the NBA? Also RIP Phil Jasner
Dana O'Neil (2:52 PM)
Justin: Either two or zero. See, to me, I liken basketball players to say, carpenters or mechanics or musicians. if you have the skill/talent, who says you have to go to college? Don't force them to be in a place they don't want, where rules are going to be broken because of them. But if they have to come, raise the age limit. Don't make this just a flyover.
Can Marquette make a run in the Big East?
Dana O'Neil (2:53 PM)
Kyle: A run to..? The title? No. Marquette is a good team, middle of the pack BIg East, I'd say.
Rick Action Jackson for BE POY
Dana O'Neil (2:53 PM)
LJ: Simmer down. It's December!
Joe (Las Vegas)
Dana, do you think having too many of the 5star talent is bad for a team with all the egos involved? I am sure if Wes wants to send any od UNC's 5 star guys, we here at UNM will take them.
Dana O'Neil (2:54 PM)
Joe; I've never heard anyone say, "Damn. I wish we had less talent,' so no. I think you need the right kind of guys and the right kind of coach to manage all that ego and you always need some core guys, veterans, role players, as well.
What do you make of the Cincinnati Bearcats? They have been playing great team ball, but are untested. They did double up Dayton and that Wright State win looks a lot better now that Oakland is proving itself and Wright State took down Oakland.
Dana O'Neil (2:56 PM)
David: Still don't know just how good they are. Nice record, some decent wins but not sold on how legit it all is. Good news: the BIg East will tell us.
JS (Madison, WI)
Thoughts on "Legends" and "Leaders," and the new big ten logo? Awful, right? Would Delaney change it with enough negative feedback?
Dana O'Neil (2:57 PM)
JS: Corporate mumbo jumbo run amok. Dreadful. And I just love that Joe Paterno isn't in the legends division. And from what I know of Jim Delany, he doesn't give a hoot what people think. Legends and Leaders it will be. I'll go Us Guys and Those Guys.
The SEC West is weak, as you stated. Does Arkansas really have that good of a recruiting class coming in? That would help a TON.
Dana O'Neil (2:58 PM)
Scott: Yeah, they do and they can win the SEC West which will help with Pelphrey's job security a ton.
timmy (nc )
kansas , duke , sry , and pitt in the final 4 i think what about you?
Dana O'Neil (2:59 PM)
Timmy: Good contenders, though there are plenty of other teams that could fit in. It's way too early.
Most improved player in the Big 10 thus far has to be Darrius Morris for Michigan can he lead them to a tourney birth??
Dana O'Neil (3:00 PM)
Mike: They look to me like the one team that could play their win in from the Big Ten. Maybe Northwestern, too. So yeah, Morris would be huge in that scenario.
Scott (South Dakota)
Does Josh Selby make a big difference when he comes in now? Obviously - he's got talent, but will it disrupt the offensive flow, you think?
Dana O'Neil (3:01 PM)
Scott: Think that's a question a lot of people are asking. He's said all the right things - that the offense runs through the Morris twins. He certainly doesn't make the Jayhawks worse by any stretch, so I'd be stunned if things didn't run smoothly
Dana O'Neil (3:01 PM)
Alright folks, that's my limit. Gotta run and finish up a few things.Enjoy the week and don't forget to buy my holiday present.