Chat with Gary Blair
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, Gary Blair, head coach of the Texas A&M women's basketball team, stops by to talk hoops and celebrate Jimmy V Week here at ESPN. Blair's Aggies face UConn Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2) in the Jimmy V Women's Basketball Classic.
In the 18 years since The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the foundation has raised more than $100 million. For more information, or to donate to the V Foundation, call 1-800-4-JimmyV or go here.
Texas A&M won the 2010-11 championship, in the Aggies' first-ever trip to the Final Four. In his 26 years as a head coach, nine at Texas A&M, Blair has only one season with a record below .500.
Send your questions now and join Blair Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:55 PM)
Coach is here!
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Since your Texas A&M squad will be playing in the Jimmy V Women's Basketball Classic, how has cancer personally affected your life?
Gary Blair (2:57 PM)
My dad passed away with cancer. One of our incoming recruits parents has lung cancer that just came back. It's just tough. Cancer affects everybody. I hope the game is going to be a great game on the court. But the reason the two of us are playing is not just for the game, but for the foundation and the cause. Geno and I feel honored to be a part of it. We were apart of it last year with Duke.
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
Are you about the only person in the world NOT Surprised by Danielle Adam's fast rise in the WNBA? And do you think she should have gotten 6th woman despite the missed games?
Gary Blair (2:59 PM)
Probably. She was the last player selected out of the 16 kids invited to the draft. She was pick No. 20. People were afraid of a kid that size could not compete at that high of a level. She did it in college, but Courtney Paris was that size and didn't have that great WNBA career. Danielle has a Charles Barkley type game. I will take that in basketball. She has the strength. And she has the personality that people want to be around. She's a winner. We hit a home run. Her jersey will go up in the rafters on Dec. 18.
im not a big wbb fan but when the aggies won last year i started to follow you guys.My question is how do you plsn to stop Ucons outside shooting?
Gary Blair (3:00 PM)
They run a 4 guard offense for probably the first time in Geno's career. Normally he's been a triangle coach. Their movement without the ball I think is the best thing that they do. The question is, they've played seven straight games at home and they won't be on the road tomorrow night. I hope that what we faced at Purdue will help us against the 15,000 fans we'll see tomorrow night.
Matt (Sandusky, OH)
Is this the first Texas A&M team that you have coached which features 2 true post players in the starting lineup?
Gary Blair (3:02 PM)
No. We've always been a 6-1 and under team. Our 4 players have always been a true 4 player. I've never coached 6-4, 6-5, 6-7 before that play the same position. Sometimes we'll play some of them together if we're not pressing. Usually with those two, we'll go man to man or zone. I just go with the hot hand, we'll see how it plays out and whichever one is ready for a game of this magnitude. Hopefully we can run quick enough to stay with UConn. They're awfully quick. How many teams can bring those players off the bench?
Glenn (Fresh Meadows, NY)
Rivalry games often are the foundation of medium size sports (Like WBB) to gain a fanbase. Are your worried that losing Texas and Baylor from your schedule will hurt your attendance and the growth you've seen at Reed Arena (Especially Baylor)
Gary Blair (3:05 PM)
I don't think so. I don't think it will hurt with the attendance. Our attendance has gone up every year. You replace Baylor with Pat Summitt. You replace a Big Monday game with UConn next year. Yes, we'll miss the rivalries, but we'll make some new ones. If you're UConn, who is their rival? Their rivals have to come from all over. We're just very fortunate in Texas that we have so many Division I schools. We will play so many other teams in Texas outside of the Big 12. We will play any of the schools in the Big 12 if they want to continue that relationship. We're like a broken marriage right now, but I'm sure that will change over time.
OkieAggie (Oklahoma City, OK)
Why do you think you communicate so well with young women who have such vastly different life experiences than you have had?
Gary Blair (3:08 PM)
Well, I have a daughter that is married and has two kids. I have a wife who is the director of nursing and she deals with 18-22 year olds. Each year I get older, but the kids stay the same age and they keep me young. Shoot, they taught me how to do the Dougie at the Final Four. The key is loving what you do. We haven't forgotten the game, sometimes the lingo changes a little and we have to change with it. But kids are flocking to TAMU to play, just like some of the other places. Kids want to play for winners where they can have fun and get an education. They love our system. Pressure defense, pressure offense. What a great school to sell. I'm happy. I have no plans for retirement. My golf game hasn't gotten better, so I can't go off and play golf.
Gary Blair (3:08 PM)
Remember my first head coaching job was at 40 years old. So every one of my wins has come after 40. I'm proud to say I'm a late bloomer.
Coach, it was great to see you cut down the nets in Indy. What did it feel like to win a national title?
Gary Blair (3:10 PM)
Laurie, you wait for it. I think the nation was ready for a new old face to cut down those nets. It meant everything. Everything that we've done over the years. All of the stops that I've made. All of that came into place. That's why I thank those people that helped get me to where I am today. The present staff and the previous staffs that have worked for me. You're only as good as the people that you're with.
Which opponent are you dreading facing this season? And what has winning a national title done for your program?
Gary Blair (3:12 PM)
The national attention, wherever you go, all summer long, people are now recognizing you as an individual with your kids with or without a nameplate on. Kids see you on ESPN. People are coming up to introduces themselves to you instead of you introducing themselves to them. We love the attention, but women's basketball is the biggest winner. You didn't have to have UConn for the ratings. The ratings went up with Notre Dame and Texas A-M. We brought some new names to sports. The top 25-30 teams in the country are doing very well. But where we need to grow are the schools in 31-150. We need to put 3,000-4,000 in those gyms.
Gary Blair (3:14 PM)
The game tomorrow night, playing UConn at their place with a 90-game winning streak. There isn't a better platform for the Jimmy V cause. The thing we're doing is having the top teams play each other in the women's game. That's what you need to have the game grow. Before you used to have 4-5 schools win the championship, but now you've got more, because the talent is spreading out. This is where we need to go. We're getting the players that those other teams used to get. That's good for the game. Spread the wealth out. Have parity. You never know what's going to happen. We found that out yesterday when we lost to Purdue.
Buzzmaster (3:15 PM)
Thanks for chatting Coach!