Chat with Pat Forde
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde stops by to chat some college basketball.
Among other things, Forde covers college football and basketball for ESPN and ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Forde Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Pat Forde (2:00 PM)
Hello and welcome to the pre-Final Four chat, on the way to Houston. Ready, go.
RAY GORDON REID ( PASADENA TX 77502)
QUESTION TO PAT FORDE AT 2.15 PM HI PAT VCU RAMS OR BUTLER DAWGS UK WILDCATS OR U CONN HUSKIES
Pat Forde (2:01 PM)
Ray: I think VCU and Kentucky ... but it's pretty scary picking against the other guys. They're both so blazing hot right now.
As a Purdue fan, how worried should I be about Painter leaving for Missouri? I've seen a St. Louis media outlet say it is greater than 50% that Painter takes the Mizzou job. What do you think the odds are that he leaves Purdue?
Pat Forde (2:03 PM)
Greg: The fact that he's sitting down with Mizzou officials today certainly ups the ante. I still will be surprised to see him standing at a news conference in Columbia as the next coach of the Tigers -- I think in the final analysis he stays at Purdue. But he's certainly taking it to the brink.
Dan Riley ((A*town, SC))
IF vcu goes on to win the national championship does that give a good argument for 128 team tournament or does it just mean we need to stop taking the bad "bcs" bottom dwellers and stop taking 11 big east teams and 7 big ten teams? Should there be a rule you cant have more than 50% of the conference in the tourney?
Pat Forde (2:04 PM)
Dan: First, I have some thoughts on tournament size here, in my column that just published:http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/tournament/2011/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=6269450Now I'll add more thoughts in a second.
Pat Forde (2:05 PM)
OK: I think this really gives fuel to further expanding the tournament. But I don't think taking more mid-majors over mid-pack Big Six schools necessarily is the answer. I mean, UConn was 9th in the Big East and is in the Final Four. But if you go to 72 or even 96, maybe some others get a shot and do something big with it like VCU did.
What are the possibilities of Brad Stevens leaving Butler? I personally think the only other job he would take would be IU. Thoughts?
Pat Forde (2:06 PM)
Reed: I think he can and will be very, very choosy. No need to take just anything. Heck, he might decide Butler is where he wants to be forever. But if he goes, I bet it would be for a top six kind of job -- and I'd consider Indiana in that group.
Do you think DeAndre Liggins can contain Kemba Walker or should Kentucky focus Liggins on his supporting cast such as shutting down Lamb?
Pat Forde (2:08 PM)
Dayln: Liggins has swallowed several point guards this year -- his length has really bothered some guys. I would guess they'll put him on Walker because that would be the natural matchup. If he is covering Kemba, that will be really fun to watch. Great matchup.
4-D - Amazing how when a team shoots lights out for two weeks, their coach is the next coming of John Wooden. Two weeks ago the coach from the fourth place team in the CAA nobody knew, now all of a sudden he's the first name on everybody's list to be their next coach. Hot team, hot coach or can this guy X and O with the best of them? Thanks
Pat Forde (2:10 PM)
Jimmy: You are correct -- reputations rise and fall pretty dramatically in a couple of weeks. But having been around Shaka Smart a bit, he's extremely impressive. I think he's made some great in-game coaching moves, and he's done an incredible job with motivational tactics for his players. They totally buy into what he's been selling. I think he's a rising star in the business.
Hey Pat, before the tournament started you held a chat and gave your list of the teams that could possibly win the tournament....I asked you how you could leave Uconn off the list. I even went as far as to say "don't give me any they'll be tired b.s." and your response was simple "Mike THEY'LL BE TIRED." And BTW Liggins got roasted by Kemba in Maui, and you're right it was fun to watch.
Pat Forde (2:11 PM)
Mike: I was wrong. They weren't tired.
What's your take on the two hires in the past couple days?
Pat Forde (2:13 PM)
Matt: Kind of a shoulder shrug for both. Very surprised at Gregory to Georgia Tech -- Dayton fans were frustrated at his inability to get the Flyers to the top of the A-10 and into the NCAAs with any regularity ... and now he's going to take on K and Roy? Maybe it'll work, but I was surprised. Cuonzo Martin to UT -- he could be a big success, but failing to get Missouri State to the NCAAs out of the Missouri Valley makes me wonder. Still, Tennessee is a damaged product right now.
Pat Forde (2:13 PM)
... So getting Cuonzo might have been as high as the Vols could realistically reach.
Rob (Ashland, Ore)
Pat, if Coach K were to retire, is Stevens the type of coach they'd look at? Or would Duke stay "in the family"?
Pat Forde (2:15 PM)
Rob: I think every school in America should look at Brad Stevens. I would hire him anywhere in a heartbeat. So if Duke has the chance whenever K hangs it up, I'd have him on speed dial.
Do you think VCU's run has anything to do with all the one and done players we've been seeing lately?
Pat Forde (2:16 PM)
Seth: Yeah, I think so. My column on our site now discusses that issue -- while VCU and Butler have done a great job elevating their problems, I'd say the bigger issue is that the top echelon has weakened. The elite programs have come back to the pack thanks to early entry players.
Who is you favorite in the Final Four? and Who is the best player after Kemba?
Pat Forde (2:18 PM)
Joe: I think Kentucky wins it all. Best player after Kemba is Brandon Knight, probably followed by Shelvin Mack.
Thomas Jackson (Kansas City (MO))
Pat, I'm still shaking my head over the KU loss. This tournament just goes to show you that anyone can win, regardless of ranking or seeding. Congrats to VCU and can KU recover from this upset?
Pat Forde (2:20 PM)
Thomas: That was probably the most surprising game I've ever seen in person. VCU didn't just win, it controlled the game throughout. Bill Self is a heck of a coach, but the record of March flameouts is really getting long. Good thing for him he won that '08 title or he'd be feeling some heat, I believe.
96 team tourney? Really??? But then the 97th team would cry and whine. Always the same thing. Doesn't a bigger field dilute some of the drama? I mean, the selection process is almost as much job security for the pundits as the tourney itself is...
Pat Forde (2:20 PM)
Jamie: What about a 345-team tourney? Let's do it!
David Logsdon (Gaithersburg, MD)
Do you think Jeremy Lamb has the potential to be a better player than Kemba Walker?
Pat Forde (2:21 PM)
David: Better would be a pretty big statement. But I think Lamb can be an excellent player, yes.
Ceejay Ellis (Detroit)
Do you truly expect VCU to be able to have enough momentum to beat either Uconn or Kentucky?
Pat Forde (2:22 PM)
Ceejay: No, I expect VCU to lose to UK in the final. But I believe VCU's style will really pose problems for Butler. I know the BUlldogs handled the pressure from Florida pretty well, but they really don't like to be sped up -- and VCU has sped up everyone. They absolutely fried Kansas with pace.
Pat: Do you feel that the more diluted field (as per your latest article) has provided an atmosphere where more comprehensive teams can compete versus teams with one or two star players? And if so is this a good direction for collegiate basketball?
Pat Forde (2:24 PM)
Brad: Yes, I do think that's the case. And I do think that's a good direction. I like team basketball. I like spreading the wealth. I like seeing the little guys get their shot. Personally, I'd like to see the NBA get rid of its age restriction and let people go pro out of high school or else make them commit to college for 2-3 years -- similar to the baseball set-up.
mathieu (san francisco)
Are you allowed to comment on the NIT? If so, who ya got? More importantly after all the talking and subsequent walking the walk, Colorado vs VCU, one team walks away, which one?
Pat Forde (2:26 PM)
Mathieu: I'll take the Buffs to win the Little Dance. I believe they should have gotten into the bigger one. But Colorado had three unsuccessful shots at Kansas, and VCU beat the Jayhawks on a neutral floor. Advantage, VCU.
Pat - What is your line of thinking in taking UK over UC?
Pat Forde (2:28 PM)
Matt: I just think Kentucky has grown leaps and bounds in the last month. The only real weakness that team had was an inability to win close games, and that's obviously done a complete 180. The veteran players have stepped up to a level I didn't think they could attain, and Brandon Knight is as clutch as anyone in the game -- yes, Kemba included. No disrespect to UConn at all, but I think UK is better right now.
Brad (Raleigh, NC)
Hey Pat, I'm an NC State fan and I was wondering what do you think of our coaching search so far and what are some possible candidates you think would be a best fit for the Wolfpack?
Pat Forde (2:29 PM)
Brad: I can understand feeling out guys like Rick Barnes and Sean Miller, but neither were going to take that job. I presume NC State will try to talk to Shaka Smart after VCU is done, and I think he'd be a very good hire.
I am thoroughly worried about Butler. VCU has beaten every team that thought the could handle the Rams. Unfortunately, I think Butler knows how tough VCU is. What do the Rams have to do to win?
Pat Forde (2:31 PM)
Richard: Your concern is completely valid. Butler has what I consider the greatest bunch of winners in a long time in CBB. And they will respect VCU more than most. But I think style of play favors VCU ... if the Rams can stay hot from the perimeter.
Pat~ Are you seriously discarding your passionate anti-expansionist ideals so quickly? Doesn't Cinderella lose some of her appeal when she is among so many of her own peers, if the tournament expanded too far or became "all-inclusive"?
Pat Forde (2:33 PM)
Lydia: Cinderella still has appeal if she beats the big boys. If we let everyone in the tourney, the have-nots will weed themselves out quickly enough. But the VCUs and Butlers would still make a run and we'd still enjoy it a lot.
Isn't it amazing what being a Senior means to a plyer facing one and done? Don't you think that has impacted the game Harrellson is playing as well? I hope he continues the sleepwalk two more times!!!
Pat Forde (2:34 PM)
Steve: No doubt about it, you see seniors play at an inspired level like this every year. It's one of the coolest things about the tourney. Harrellson is a great example of that. So are the seniors at VCU, and Matt Howard at Butler, etc. Love seeing it unfold.
Thanks Pat - conversely, what do the Huskies have to do in order to win on Saturday night?
Pat Forde (2:37 PM)
Matt: If Walker is scoring AND distributing the ball well and Lamb and Roscoe Smith and others are making shots, UConn is tough to guard. UConn hurt UK in transition in Maui; not as easily done this time around but if the Huskies can score some easy hoops before the halfcourt defense sets up, that would be big. And crazy as it sounds, UConn has to have an answer for Harrellson in the middle.
Mike (San Diego)
You mentioned Brad Stevens should take a top 6 job. Who's in that group? I'd say UNC, Duke, KU, and Kentucky are locks, but you could make a god case for a lot of schools for those last 2 spots.
Pat Forde (2:38 PM)
Mike: UCLA and Indiana are the others. I'm talking historical perspective, all-time top six programs.
David (Louisville Ky)
Pat, do you feel that all the close road losses in the SEC helped Kentucky? They are winning all the close games now.
Pat Forde (2:40 PM)
David: I think winning close games against Vandy and Tennessee late in the regular season helped UK turn the corner. Think the players believed, then, that they could do it. It honestly may have been something as subtle as a key basket or key stop in that Vandy game (a 2-point game), and all of a sudden it started to come together. Since then, they've been a different team.
If VCU wins it all, is that the greatest underdog championship performance in sports history, surpassing even the Miracle on Ice?
Pat Forde (2:42 PM)
Josh: Fair question. The Miracle On Ice will probably always be the gold standard for me, but this would be in the discussion. Heck, if this Butler team wins it all I'd say the same thing most likely.
Davis (Kansas City)
Pat...You can't possibly give 1 single reason as to why Sean Miller or Rick Barnes would leave their schools for NC State. Texas & Arizona are top schools in their respective conference, NC State is the 3rd best school in its own state, let alone conference. Arizona
Pat Forde (2:42 PM)
Davis: Go back and re-read what I said. Neither Barnes nor Miller would leave their schools for NC State.
I have a feeling that Illinois may be calling Stevens to inquire within. I think Weber has worn out his welcome. What say you Forde?
Pat Forde (2:43 PM)
Eric: Why would Brad Stevens leave Butler for Illinois? Or, to answer another question I saw, for UConn? I'd be shocked. More than shocked.
Re: Seth's question about VCU's run being attributable to 1-and-dones. KU started 2 seniors & 3 juniors. Only 1 freshman received playing time, and not much of it. Kentucky, though, is in the final four with a bunch of one and dones. So I think his premise is off.
Pat Forde (2:44 PM)
Patrick: Not so much one and dones, but early entries. Too many of those have watered down the big boys.
Mike (San Diego)
To follow up your answer, why would Stevens care about the history of a program? To me, Indiana has become the Notre Dame of college basketball meaning not very relevant recently and most of the allure of those jobs is fabricated. I feel like UCONN, Syracuse, Michigan State, and Ohio state right now are more attractive landing spots than Indiana.
Pat Forde (2:45 PM)
Mike: What if you grew up in Indiana and rooted for the Hoosiers all your childhood? Check Stevens' bio. However, Indiana has a coach and I think the Hoosiers are on the verge of a turnaround under Tom Crean.
Thoughts on Chris Mooney extension at Richmond?
Pat Forde (2:45 PM)
Scooter: Surprised me. I hope it works out for Chris and the Spiders.
Rob (San Diego)
I disagree that Brad Stevens should take a top 6 job. He has the perfect set up at Butler. A battle tested program, a great new contract he signed last year, and he gets to coach in a great basketball city where games are always packed and normally telelvised. I think that Butler has become an established enough name that he would be better off staying put.
Pat Forde (2:46 PM)
Rob: I didn't say Stevens SHOULD take a top six job. I said those would be the only jobs I'd even consider if I were him. If he stays at Butler forever I think it would be great for the game.
Matt D (KY)
I just grabbed some tickets for Houston. Im worried how difficult it will be to unload them if UK loses. Would UCONN vs Either team translate into a semi-empty arena? B/c I think yes. Thoughts?
Pat Forde (2:47 PM)
Matt: I think your worries are justified.
Pat: If you could choose one coach in the final four to start a team with, who would you choose? why
Pat Forde (2:48 PM)
John: Brad Stevens. I think he's incredible.
Tony (Lexington, KY)
I got final four tickets but my boss wouldnt let me off. So, I quit. I couldnt miss a UK championship. Good move?
Pat Forde (2:49 PM)
Tony: It depends how much you value food and shelter, I suppose.
James (San Francisco)
Some one-and-dones could also be playing to impress their stock. I love college basketball because it is the ultimate team sport. The last two years are the best thing to happen in the last 20 years. Savvy, experienced, team players, playing together. Beautiful thing to witness. Kids who have no interest in college and leave, as a fan of "college" sports, I have no interest in them. As Robert DeNiro/Al Capone says before he whips out the bat: "TEAM, TEAM!"
Pat Forde (2:50 PM)
James: I largely agree.
Why mess with a good thing with all this expansion talk? The 64 team tournament is a nation-wide holiday so why change it more than it has already been changed
Pat Forde (2:52 PM)
John: I have long held that same opinion. But VCU wouldn't have made this field under the 64-team format, and now it is in the Final Four. Who's to say Colorado, Alabama or Virginia Tech couldn't have done the same if given the opportunity? I'm starting to change my mind.
Pat - if UConn proves you wrong and wins the champ, do you think Calhoun retires? (Dont worry, I wont ask if Stevens will take his spot).
Pat Forde (2:53 PM)
Matt: I have no inside information, but yeah, I could foresee that happening. Wouldn't shock me.
Stan (Lexington, Ky)
Overall, the one and done rule has single-handedly caused the current parity in college basketball. True or False
Pat Forde (2:54 PM)
Stan: False. Early entry -- not just one-and-dones -- is the bigger reason. Player turnover has cyclically left some of the bigger programs more ordinary than ever.
Adam (Raleigh, NC)
Do you think there is any truth to the Billy Donavan to NCSU rumors? Debbie Yow is running a tight search, rumors are all over the place around here. Much different from our boondoggle 5 years ago...
Pat Forde (2:55 PM)
Adam: I'd be surprised. All Billy needs to do is call his friend and fellow former Kentucky assistant Herb Sendek for some intel on how he was treated by the fans there, and I think he'd know enough to stay away.
Yahtzee (Kansas City)
If Painter stays at Purdue, who would be your top realistic candidate for the Mizzou vacancy?
Pat Forde (2:58 PM)
Yahtzee: I'd like to see Mizzou talk to Ben Jacobson at Northern Iowa. He impresses me, though I don't know how he'd do recruiting against Bill Self and Rick Barnes.
Paul (Indianapolis, IN)
What would be the most likely case in which Butler would win the championship?
Pat Forde (2:59 PM)
Paul: Bulldogs D cools off VCU from the perimeter and handles the Rams pressure. Then in the final Butler either rides a brilliant game from Shelvin Mack against his hometown school, Kentucky, or Matt Howard delivers against UConn. It's not completely out of the question. I've enjoyed the Bulldogs so much for two years running that it's really hard to pick against Butler at this point, but I did. Let's see if it bites me. (Remember, I had 'em in the Final Four last year.)
Margie (Virginia Beach)
Does VCU have any chance to keep Shaka Smart as coach?
Pat Forde (3:01 PM)
Margie: Yeah, I'd say it will have a chance. VCU AD and Shaka seem to have a great relationship, and I think he's greatly enjoyed coaching there -- the school gave him his first shot. But he'll have some pretty good offers to weigh against loyalty.
Pat Forde (3:02 PM)
OK folks, I'm out. We'll have tons of coverage all week from H-Town, so check it out. Thanks for all the questions today.