Chat with Graham Hays
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com women's college basketball writer Graham Hays will be here to chat about the women's season.
Hays contributes to ESPN.com's women's basketball, softball and soccer coverage. He began with ESPN in 1999.
Send your questions now and join Hays Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Graham Hays (4:01 PM)
So ... anything happen yesterday that we should talk about?
I was at MSG yesterday to witness history in the making. As much as Geno and staff tries to downplay this whole thing, it's a BIG DEAL - no matter the gender. At this level of play, it's a thing of beauty...they don't care who they play, they just play HARD all the time! Your prediction on who might end it?
Graham Hays (4:05 PM)
I agree it's a big deal. I'm just not sure how much bigger a deal 88 was than 75, 82 or 84, to pick three numbers at random. What Connecticut is doing is a big deal because of Connecticut, not because of John Wooden's teams. As for when it might end, I guess I'm considerably less inclined to think it ends soon. That said, I'll stick with the (meek) prediction that they lose once before the NCAA tournament. There are still a lot of good teams on the schedule, outside of even Big East hurdles (OU, Duke, Stanford, UNC, etc). I can't pick one that is likely to do it, but if you look at a scenario like the Duke game getting physical, some of UConn's young players getting in foul trouble, etc., maybe there's something there. And no matter what Stanford did the last two games, that's a tough trip.
In 20 words or less, after FSU lost to Yale, why should I think they have a chance against UConn?
Graham Hays (4:07 PM)
20 words? You don't know me well, do you. Dang it, there's 12 down the drain. Why do they have a chance? To the degree they do, because FSU is very familiar with UConn and has the talent to play pretty good defense, the debacle in New Haven notwithstanding. In fact, if you're looking for a competitive game Tuesday, Saturday might have been the best thing for the Seminoles.
Who wins Xavier vs Duke tomorrow nights? Its a shame for both teams most attention is on FSU vs UConn
Graham Hays (4:10 PM)
Yeah, that one is still in the same boat as Stanford-Tennessee (which I am very eager to watch on DVR tonight) in getting pushed to the background for reasons completely unrelated to the talent on the court. I have a hunch Xavier-Duke could be a little tough to watch if you're hoping for fluid basketball, but if you like defense and talent, it should be fun. Getting Katie Rutan back for Xavier is a huge deal, if she's able to go more than the 12 minutes she did against Mississippi State. If she can spread the Blue Devils a little defensively, it obviously helps Harris and Phillips a lot.
But I do Graham, that's why I asked for only 20 words! :)Losing to Yale may have been the best thing for FSU? They lost to a team that Delaware trounced, then sat around in CT watching UConn kick the butt of the #10 team in the country, and they're in better shape for losing? How do they put those together and say "okay, now we're ready for the Huskies?"
Graham Hays (4:13 PM)
Hey, I'm not saying tomorrow night is going to be a nailbiter. But if FSU goes to Yale, plays OK and wins by 12, does that put them in any better position for Tuesday night? I got the feeling from Sue Semrau's comments after the game that some of the young players on that team might not really have understood what's required of them to play FSU-style defense and were happy getting by with good enough. If there's something to make that crystal clear, it's losing in an Ivy League gym.
Graham Hays (4:14 PM)
If you believe FSU has talent (and I do), it was a wakeup call. If you think FSU was vastly overrated, then they don't stand a chance tomorrow anyway.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Has it gotten to the point that UConn is not just beating opponents mentally BEFORE they enter the stadium but BEFORE THEY EVEN GET TO PLAY THEM (as evidenced by OSU/Cuse and now FSU/Yale?)
Graham Hays (4:17 PM)
I think that's always been a case to a certain degree. I was sitting next to Rebecca Lobo yesterday and heard her comment about Foster telling his team they were playing scared early. And it only make sense that playing any juggernaut, be it UConn now or Tennessee with Candace or Chamique or whoever, is going to get in the heads of some kids. I don't think it's universal. I don't think Stanford fears Connecticut. Baylor won't fear them. Some of the Big East teams that know them (West Virginia comes to mind) won't be afraid. Not sure that will help any of them of course.
Casey (Fotr Worth)
Elena Delle Donne...Does she wind up in the WNBA?play for USA BB?Olympics??
Graham Hays (4:20 PM)
Too early to say, I guess, although there's certainly plenty of WNBA ability there. I haven't seen her yet this season, so I'm interested to see how her game has grown. She's incredibly gifted and that teams needs her to do a heck of a lot, but I was a little surprised watching her toward the end of last season that she wasn't more of a factor distributing the ball or defending. But the main takeaway is no end to her potential.
Christina (College Sports Capital of the World)
For a team that downplays there success so much, and outwardly always has a philosophy that there next game is the most important, were you surprised over the joy UConn displayed after beating Ohio State?
Graham Hays (4:22 PM)
A little bit, yeah. On the other hand, they've been getting asked about this since the middle of last season, so if they can't take at least some joy from doing it, especially on the stage of MSG, that would be a pretty wretched basketball existence. I also get the feeling this team is enjoying finding its own identity with the freshmen and others playing expanded roles. Perhaps there was a bit of that in the celebration.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
To use a boxing analogy who finally lands the final blow to Uconn, A Frazier (Stanford, Duke etc) or a Buster Douglas type (WVU, St. Johns, who actually has had a very good AMOD against Uconn during the streak)
Graham Hays (4:24 PM)
Wouldn't Seton Hall be Buster Douglas? Or would they be Peter McNeeley? You can make the best cases for a Stanford or a Duke obviously, but I feel like it might be a Big East team. Maybe that's just the memory of the last streak ending against Villanova or the Ketia Swanier escape at DePaul.
kevin (macon ga)
You predicted the Duel in the Desert would come down to Marist and Houston, right?
Graham Hays (4:26 PM)
Oh sure, who didn't have them over Louisville and Nebraska? No, I'm surprised. I thought Louisville looked as good as it has since the Final Four when they beat Dayton last weekend, so those two losses really surprised me. Marist has a lot of talent -- as Giorgis always says, he's not sure what he has, but he has a lot of it. He said back in November he wanted to pare down his rotation, but it looks like he's still going with eight, nine, ten players getting double-digit minutes. Very interested to see how tonight's Marist-Houston game plays out.
who is your quick mid major top 10? thoughts on the CAA
Graham Hays (4:29 PM)
Still a work in progress I need to finish after this chat. Safe to say the aforementioned Red Foxes and Cougars will factor prominently. Charlotte looks really good, too. I don't think Green Bay falls far, despite the loss at Marquette. As for the CAA, Hofstra is probably closing in on making the list. Not to pick on Seton Hall twice in one chat, but while that might not be a monumental win for the Pride, it's still the continuation of a good start for them.
Does Maya, presuming she finishes her college career well, get into the Top 10 WCBB players all-time?I'm thinking that could be like the following --- Cheryl Miller (3x Naismith),- Nancy Lieberman (2x Wade),- Carol Blazejowski (1st Wade winner),- Chamique Holdsclaw (2x Naismith),- Tamika Catchings (1 Naismith, 4x All-American),- Diane Tuarasi (2x Naismith),- Jackie Stiles (all-time scorer),- Candance Parker (Naismith),- Seimone Augustus (2x Naismith) and- Maya Moore (2x Wade, 1x Naismith, so far).You might realize this leaves out Lynette Woodward (4-time All-American first team, all pre-NCAA; I'm thinking she's #10 bumped by Maya), Anne Donovan, multiple LA Tech stars, Tenn stars, Stanford stars like Starbird, UConn stars (too much team play), Courtney Paris, Lindsay Whalen, Katie Smith, Sheryl Swopes (only played 2 yrs, or she's in, but her WNBA career is more notable). In some cases you'd be leaving three-time first team All-Americans out. But it is very lofty company when you keep it to ten over the decades.Heck, the second ten would all be killers, too! It is like choosing the top 10 in baseball and realizing you left out Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Jimmy Foxx and Lefty Grove.
Graham Hays (4:32 PM)
Wow, I don't think I can give that the time it deserves for a fitting response. Great question, though. And any time you can work Lefty Grove into a conversation, it's bonus points (double bonus points if you do it at a wedding). My gut instinct is she's definitely top 10, definitely top five and getting close to No. 1. But when you lay out all the candidates like that, it's a reminder we're working with a lot of history.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
Fact question...people were calling 15k a record for WCBB at MSG...Didn't blaze have a sellout (19,762) in the 70s, or are they only counting the NCAA era
Graham Hays (4:33 PM)
The Garden folks corrected that to the second-biggest crowd for a women's basketball game, behind Rutgers-Tennessee in 1999. Not sure about the 19k mark. I know Mel Greenberg mentioned there was a doubleheader with a men's game that drew a big crowd back around that time.
Hi Graham, Xavier plays Stanford and Duke in the next two weeks. It will really test how good they are. Do you think if they beat one or both they can secure a number 1 seed this early for the tournament. I believe these are the last two challenges for Xavier. They went undefeated in the league last year. Therefore, I believe it could help secure them a top seed early.
Graham Hays (4:36 PM)
Beat both and sweep the league (which is going to be really difficult to do this season, more even than last season, I think), and I think they get a No. 1. Split those two and it's probably back to the same debate as last season. Right now, my inclination is Connecticut, Baylor, Tennessee and Duke have most control of their No. 1 seed fate, followed closely by Stanford and then Xavier. But hey, it's December.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
And FYI, there was a LEGIT 19,762 sellout (less than 20% giveaways) in 2000 Libs Comets regular season tickets gone 2 weeks before the event. (Yes I was there) so these are only college numbers.
Graham Hays (4:36 PM)
Right, sorry, college game.
Can the 49ers challenge Xavier for the Atlantic 10 crown? I was there for the Duke game and Charlotte would have won if they made their free throws. Coach Aston has a legit squad this season.
Graham Hays (4:39 PM)
I'm not sure, but I'm very interested to find out. It seems like Epiphany Woodson has made a huge difference for that team, coming over from Miami. And they rebound well and play defense, so the Xavier game should be fun.
With all this debate showing up everywhere about whether or not to compare the streak to UCLA's I think everyone is kind of missing the boat. I don't think its really about comparing the streaks, but what UCONN is doing is exciting and I think its important that it gets talked about. And so each time they reach a number big enough that they are surpassing another streak it will get talked about. Because there are so few long winning streaks in sports there haven't been many times its been brought up. This recent milestone has had the greatest amount of coverage is because its the streak in the most popular sport that they have eclipsed. No one cares that they beat their own streak in women's basketball back in March and even less people will care if they happen to eclipse the Penn State women's volleyball streak. The level of conversation will depend on the popularity of the sport that they are going up against. Thoughts?
Graham Hays (4:41 PM)
There's a lot in there, but I think I generally agree. What I'm not sure about is if the extra attention created by the popularity of the sport they go up against, as you put it, creates a net benefit. There is certainly some noisy blowback, but is there a quieter positive exposure that outweighs it? I just don't know.
What do you think about the Lady Tar Heels this season...Do you think they can challenge Duke for the top spot...And what would it take?
Graham Hays (4:45 PM)
I'm bullish on the Tar Heels, more than some past variations down in Chapel Hill. I do wish they were playing a slightly more challenging non-ACC schedule, but that is what it is. UNC's backcourt is one of the most fun to watch, if you ask me (and I guess you did). Lucas is coming into her own, but Cetera DeGraffenreid seems like an unsung standout. And then throw Breland and some big bodies into that mix and the talent is there for the Tar Heels.
Graham Hays (4:46 PM)
The question, as always, is will that style prove conducive to beating teams that can match up one-for-one talent-wise.
Any chance Syracuse takes down Baylor?
Graham Hays (4:48 PM)
Syracuse deserves all the credit coming its way for the Ohio State win. But sorry, when you play that schedule, you're still not going to get the benefit of the doubt until you do it more than once. So a chance? Yes, but it's a small one. Baylor is a more resilient team than Ohio State.
Christina (College Sports Capital of the World)
What do you feel Ohio State is lacking that they always seem to under perform when the pressure is on?
Graham Hays (4:51 PM)
Out of curiosity, what is the college sports capital of the world? Should I know this? As for Ohio State, that's one of the great mysteries of the sport. You can't look at Jim Foster's career and say the guy can't coach, so it's not like it's all top-down. But it's just a mystery because its happened over multiple generations of players coming through Columbus. Wish I had a good answer for you.
Quinten Hillsman (Syracuse)
So your saying there's a chance....allright!!!!!
Glenn (Fresh Meadows)
And griner is just a wee bit taller than Lavender ;)
In regards to the future Stanford vs UConn game, everyone is talking about it being our first loss, but in order for the posts of the Cardinal to have the advantage, they will need to get the ball and Stanford is weak at the guard spot. Our pressure up top will fluster Stanford. What are your thoughts?
Graham Hays (4:54 PM)
Fair point. That's been the question for Stanford against UConn the last few seasons, and it hasn't seemed to hobble the Cardinal. But this team doesn't have a Hones or a Gold-Onwude. But between Pohlen, Toni Kokenis and Kayla Pedersen, the Cardinal have people who can beat pressure by various means. It's definitely a swing point for that game, but I don't know it's inherently a fatal flaw for the Cardinal.
Bill Mish (Versailles, CT)
Now that the UCONN Women have established a new Women's Basketball, consecutive win record, and the assault on the legendary UCLA # is over, can we get back to discussing the original goal for the UCONN Women when this season began? Namely attempting to win another Women's Basketball National Championship!
Graham Hays (4:56 PM)
You'll have to wait until tomorrow for the assault to be over, one way or the other, but I'm with you. Although I'm equally eager to get back to discussing Baylor, Tennessee, Stanford, Duke, Xavier, Texas A&M, West Virginia, not to mention DePaul, Charlotte Green Bay, Bowling Green, Gonzaga, Portland, etc, etc.. There are so many good stories out there.
Will you be at the SOLD OUT XL Center tomorrow night?
Graham Hays (4:57 PM)
The arena with the most dangerous steps in the world? You betcha.
Are you impressed by Arkansas' win over OU yesterday?
Graham Hays (4:59 PM)
See, there's another good story that got lost. Definitely impressed. Throw that win on top of the decent road wins at Utah and UTEP, and even the win against Oral Roberts, and you start to get the feeling there may be more to this hot start than some previous ones out of Arkansas. Not saying they're ready to pull a Kentucky, but definitely a team to watch as SEC play begins.
Graham Hays (5:00 PM)
All right, I appreciate all the questions once again. Tune in tomorrow for that game you may have heard us publicizing. And Happy Holidays!