Chat with Jay Bilas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will stop by to chat about the hoops season.
Bilas provides expert color commentary from courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPN's popular studio shows College Gameday and College Gamenight. He also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes numerous reports for SportsCenter. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPN's coverage of the NBA Draft.
Send your questions now and join Bilas Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Jay Bilas (1:36 PM)
Welcome to the Fastest Chat in Basketball. I arrived a little early, so I thought I would just go ahead and start, and make up for the times I was late and you had a Chat Administrator telling you that I would be here soon....So, let's go. I would really like to start off with something different and interesting, so fire away! Bilas
Chris (Lexington, KY)
Baseball keeper question. I'm keeping Pujols. Who do I keep between Miguel Cabrera and Crawford? My league is H2H for BA, R's, HR's, RBI's, 3B's, and SB's.
Jay Bilas (1:39 PM)
Good question. I am no Tim Kurkjian (I am much taller and a much better basketball player), but I would go with Crawford. First base is a deep position for Fantasy Baseball, and you probably cannot go wrong with Miggy, but Crawford is in a contract year. I would take Crawford. Good call on Pujols. I would keep him first overall, not just on the bag.
Garrett (Richmond, VA)
Virginia has won at Minnesota and Virginia Tech, and lost at home to Seattle and by 40 to Washington at a neutral court. Which of these is more like the real Hoos team?
Jay Bilas (1:41 PM)
I was really surprised at UVa's win over Minnesota in the Barn. I think that Tony Bennett is a really fine basketball coach and he will have UVa back and competitive for the NCAA Tournament before long, but I don't see UVa as an NCAA Tournament team this year. A lot of capable teams can play well on a given night and look great in certain games. Really good teams play well and hard and to a high standard consistently. That is the next step for Virginia. They have to get better talent, yes. But they also have to get greater consistency. Under Bennett, they will.
First off Jay, just wanted to let you know that you are my favorite analyst of any sport on ESPN. With that said i was a little disappointed with where you put my Purdue Boilermakers to begin the season without Robbie Hummel. Just wanted to get your thoughts on how far this team can really go? possible Final four with the superb defense? Thanks a lot Jay! Keep up the good work!
Jay Bilas (1:45 PM)
Not the first time I have disappointed people. I have ranked the Boilermakers higher and higher as the season has progressed. I have to admit, I am surprised at just how good Purdue really is without Hummel. And, I thought that replacing Chris Kramer would be a bigger issue and more problematic. Moore is consistently underrated, and I believe he has been the Big Ten MVP to this point in the season. Johnson is terrific, and I was really impressed with Ryne Smith. What stands out about Purdue is how hard they play, and how hard they play all the time. Really impressive. And, so you know, we don't KNOW who will win. We have beliefs, and I think many of us can tell you the key issues to watch for and what certain games may turn on, but if anybody KNEW, we would all be in Las Vegas, not doing this! Thanks for the nice compliment. Too kind.
You mentioned the defensive improvements of Providence in your last blog. 4 of their 5 losses were competitive games against solid teams. Are they on the brink? Will Keno have them winning some of these games by the end of the season?
Jay Bilas (1:48 PM)
I think Keno Davis will have that team very competitive very soon. The talent level is improving rapidly, but that is one young team right now. There are, what, eleven freshmen on the roster?! Do they take naps and have a snack during practice? That takes time, but PC is doing a really good job. I really like Marshon Brooks and Vincent Council. Really good players. The zone defense they have played has been effective, but not because it is zone. It is because they have played harder in it. With an improvement in transition defense, PC can be even better.
Jay, who do you like in the cross-town shootout tonight?
Jay Bilas (1:49 PM)
A good G.I. medical professional, which is necessary after too much Skyline Chili. When I would do the Shootout for ESPN, I remember always talking to Skip Prosser before the game, and having him say that he and all of his XU friends would be watching with Skyline cooking.
Colton (Salt Lake City)
Hey Jay, What kind of a seed do you see BYU getting in the tourney this year? Do you think they have a shot at making a sweet sixteen run?
Jay Bilas (1:53 PM)
I think that BYU will be a 2 or 3 seed. If they beat SDSU twice or three times, they can get up near a 1-seed, but that is probably unlikely. I really like that team. They play fast, get out and guard, and I like the Brandon Davies kid. Jimmer Fredette is a National POY guy, and I am a big fan of Jackson Emery. That kid can really guard and compete. Tough kid. Can I call any of the Cougars "kids"? They are all 30 years old!! So what, they can really play.
With 68 consecutive home-court wins, Kansas is the only team to even make it to the half way point of Kentucky's 129 record since 1990. UNLV is the only team to make it halfway to UCLA's 88 game winning streak in the same 20 years. Are both records totalyl unassailable?
Jay Bilas (1:55 PM)
I really doubt that anyone else will match those two, just like I doubt that anyone will match Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak in baseball. The game has changed, and with fewer and fewer of the greats staying more than two years, we will not see records like that broken, and the records broken will be by "lesser" players. But, those "lesser" players are still truly outstanding.
Donnie Jones moves UCF to 14-0 with the win versus his former employer last evening. What does UCF have to do in Conference Play to assure an at large bid?
Jay Bilas (1:56 PM)
I think winning the conference is the best recipe for respect and an at-large, or at least finishing in the top two of the league standings. Memphis is beatable, and UTEP and Southern Miss will be the top competition. UCF is certainly ahead of schedule, so they might as well take advantage of it. Donnie Jones is dong a really nice job.
JJ(texas) [via mobile]
im coaching a team of 5th graders. Do you have any suggestions or websites for a 1st year coach for drills and/or plays. thanks GO BAYLOR
Jay Bilas (1:59 PM)
Go to KevinEastman.com and become a follower of Kevin Eastman on Twitter. Eastman is currently an assistant coach to Doc Rivers with the Boston Celtics, and a former player at Richmond and head coach at UNC Wilmington and Washington State. Kevin is one of the best teachers of the game that I have ever been around, and he has words of wisdom for any coach or basketball enthusiast at KevinEastman.com. Check it out. And, good luck.
Which guard would you take right now: Kemba Walker or Nolan Smith?
Jay Bilas (2:02 PM)
Tough question. Wow. I would probably take Nolan Smith because he is bigger and a better shooter. Both are outstanding, and both have had All-America type seasons and POY seasons. Smith has been better of late, but Walker was better early. Smith, even though he is not a true point, is averaging over 7 assists per game. That is pretty stout. The major separating factor for me in taking Smith would be his size. Really tough call.
Jay, based on non-conference records of the top 7 Big 10 teams (excluding Iowa, PSU, IU and Northwestern), does an 8-8 conference record get you into the tournament? If not, which teams need to be better than 8-8?
Jay Bilas (2:04 PM)
I don't think 8-8 would do it, because they play 18 games. But, I know what you mean, would a .500 record get you in? Maybe, but I wouldn't count on it. Depends upon who the nine wins were against, and who you beat in the non-conference. The truth is, every team is an independent in the committee room, so conference record by itself won't be the dispositive issue.
Brandon Nicholson (London, KY)
What will become of the Enes Kanter situation at Kentucky...local reports point to a decision in the near future. Based on the Cam Newton ruling, albeit, in another sport, can they ethically deny him eligibility once again?
Jay Bilas (2:09 PM)
The decision is supposed to come today, according to a story I read by Jeff Goodman. I have no information on the decision, but my gut tells me that the NCAA will not reinstate him. I think he should be allowed to play immediately, and believe that his suspension was a mistake. Reasonable minds can differ, but that kid did not do anything to show intent to professionalize. In fact, he turned away from pro money. Riddle me this. How can Clemson QB Kyle Parker be an amateur when he plays professional baseball and is a millionaire, but Kanter, at worst, took school expenses and is a professional? The kid wants to go to school and play. We should not put up an artificial barrier in his way, or anyone else's. Just one man's opinion.
Kentucky is young again but this team lacks the ego of last years freshman core, do you see Coach Cal putting them together for a deeper run?
Jay Bilas (2:12 PM)
I continue to be amazed by Kentucky and the job that John Calipari does with such young players and teams. Most coaches struggle with freshmen, but Cal seems to be able to get them to play like upperclassmen in a hurry. I thought that UK would struggle with Louisville (with Buckles playing), but the Cats crushed them. If Kanter played, UK would be a Final Four contender. Without him, they are an Elite Eight team that could make a Final Four with a break or two. Pretty impressive, really.
Tim (SD, California)
Jay, think the Aztecs can stay ranked in the top 10 or was it just their easy starting schedule that has them that high. They are a cookin though.
Jay Bilas (2:15 PM)
Outstanding team. And, a team of men. Being older and tested is a nice thing, and the Aztecs are older. I think that Kawhi Leonard is really, really good, and he is hard to deal with because he plays so hard and pursues the ball so hard. Billy White is an outstanding athlete and Malcom Thomas can really rebound and block shots. The key will be consistent guard play and defense. I thought the Aztecs were good against TCU last night, but not at their best. Against BYU, they will have to be at their best. This is a Top 10 team that may get clipped a few times, but a second weekend team.
Jay, is Steve Lavin a better coach or broadcaster? He's turning around SJU but I sure do miss him on ESPN.
Jay Bilas (2:18 PM)
I miss him on television, too. But, he is doing a great job at St. John's. Another older team, and they are on a high right now. Brutal schedule coming up, but they will weather it. Lavin looks like he is having a ball, and I am glad he got back in and is doing well. I always thought it was ironic that UCLA hired him when he was young and inexperienced, then fired him when he was older and ready to really do the job well. ESPN and St. John's were the beneficiaries of that, and he has really recruited well. Really happy for him.
Matt (The West)
Jay, Thoughts on Gonzaga? Appreciate it.
Jay Bilas (2:19 PM)
Sure. One of my favorite Jesuit saints. I usually shy away from those named Aloysius, but make an exception in the Gonzaga case.
Any news out of the reported conference call last night with doctors and and Duke re: Kyrie Irving's toe?
Jay Bilas (2:20 PM)
All of my information has to do with the conference call regarding his pinky toe. I will endeavor to get a whole foot update.
Jeff (Tiffin, Ohio)
What do you think about the dominance of Ohio State men's basketball? Should they be the #1 team in the nation?
Jay Bilas (2:23 PM)
You would not be crazy to put the Buckeyes at No. 1, and they are capable of winning the whole thing. Older, experienced, big, strong and very capable on the offensive end. I have been impressed with the handling and passing of this team, and OSU has everything. Sullinger is the real thing, and he gives the Buckeyes a post player you have to double, which opens up so many things. Good call.
Kevin Milack (Mahwah, NJ)
Is it me or is this Villanova team a tad overrated this season? I have been following them for years now and it seems as if they do not have an identity on offense. Thoughts?
Jay Bilas (2:25 PM)
Fair point on the identity, but I think it has more to do with trying to play with the same type of dynamic guard AND two big guys that tend to take up space in the middle of the floor in Pena and Yarou. I think that Villanova will be very good by the end of the year. One thing that I really like this year about Nova, they are not fouling so much. Last year, Nova allowed 27 FTA per game. This year, it is more like 18 or 19. That alone will make them better and tougher to beat.
I'm going to the Michigan - Kansas game on Sunday. Should I expect any surprises with an upstart Michigan team or will Kansas continue to roll?
Jay Bilas (2:28 PM)
Kansas is better, but I like Michigan. Darius Morris is the most improved player in the Big Ten, Jordan Morgan is getting good, and the Wolverines have more talent than I thought they would going into the season. They play good defense, play more man, and trot out the 1-3-1 from time to time. The key is, and it always is with John Beilein coached teams, is hitting perimeter shots. Hit 40% or more of 3's and Michigan can win. Less than that and the Wolverines will probably get beat. One thing that Michigan does not do is get to the free throw line. That is tough to overcome unless you shoot the eyes out of it.
Bryan (Nashua, NH)
Syracuse seems to be improving on a per game basis with a young talented team. Seeing as they are unbeaten so far (obviously will not stay that way playing in the BE) do you see them progressing into a Fina Four caliber or Championship caliber team?
Jay Bilas (2:30 PM)
I had Syracuse in my preseason Final Four, and as you know, I am never wrong. I have been impressed so far, and I agree that the Orange are improving. Shooting has been an issue, but in transition and on the defensive end, I really like what Syracuse brings. Kris Joseph is starting to play like a seasoned veteran, and Rick Jackson is an incredible rebounder.
Louis Sparenblek (Pittsboro, IN)
Hi Jay. I am a big Indiana fan and I am tired of seeing them lose. I love Tom Crean and felt bad for the situation he was brought in to fix. Do you forsee them to turn the corner anytime soon? Great work on ESPN by the way!
Jay Bilas (2:33 PM)
Think it will improve by bringing someone else in to start over yet again?! Tom Crean is the REAL DEAL. He will get IU back to where you want it to be, I BELIEVE IN THAT DOWN TO MY SOCKS!! Remember this, Indiana burned down that entire program and had to start over. Right or wrong, the program was decimated. Give him some time. Next year, Cody Zeller gets there and Crean will have better talent and experience. You will be glad you stuck with him. Nobody knows the bullets Crean has taken for that program, but he has never wavered. Neither should you.
Boyd (Nashville) [via mobile]
Jay, your thoughts on Vandy so far this year?
Jay Bilas (2:36 PM)
Maybe Vandy's best team under Kevin Stallings. I first met Kevin when he was an assistant under Gene Keady at Purdue and I played for Keady for the US National Select Team. I knew then that Kevin would be a terrific head coach because he "got it" even then. Taylor is shooting it better, Ezeli is improved, Tinsley can really pass it, and Jenkins is among the best five shooters in the country. Once the NCAA gets its meter maids out of the way (how ridiculous was that?!) and Andre Walker gets healthy, Vandy is good enough to win the SEC.
Vinnie (Toms River NJ)
How good is Josh Selby? I assume he's a one and done? And do the Jayhawks have enough this year?
Jay Bilas (2:37 PM)
Really, really good because he can break off a play and get his own. Being able to create and make plays is nice to have. And, who knows about the "one and done" decision right now? I sure don't. He could go, but he is probably better off staying (if being "ready" means anything.
Jay, with the new "First Round" of the tournament, isn't it impossible for the teams playing in that game to not be leaked before Selection Sunday? For the "Play0In" game in years past, it was easy to figure out who the teams involved would be, plus they were done their conference tournament a week or so prior. You can't give an ACC or Big East team one day's notice that you are playing Tuesday in Dayton against Team X. Right?
Jay Bilas (2:40 PM)
Dan, I haven't even thought about that. Here is the way I look at it, if it takes you five minutes to explain the new NCAA Tournament format, it was the wrong thing to do. And, it takes more than five minutes to explain this new system. And, the NCAA can give teams short notice. That won't bother anyone, except the teams. But, they should be honored just to play, right?
Chris (Carnegie, PA)
This seems to be the second best Pitt team of the last 10 years, the 2008-9 squad being the best. Is this another very solid Sweet 16 model, or do they have a chance to advance to the Elite 8 again?
Jay Bilas (2:41 PM)
This team is not as good as the one with Blair, Fields and Young, but it is very good. I don't think there are a bunch of great teams out there this year, and that will open it up for more very good teams to do really well at the end. Pitt is one of those teams.
If that is a joke, it went right over my head.
Jay Bilas (2:45 PM)
That was a joke. If you think I am working the phone getting updates on toes, you got the wrong guy. Irving is not playing anytime soon. If he can avoid surgery, he has a chance to play this season, but not in the next month. I have heard more discussion about this toe than any toe since Sgt. Hulka.
Jay, Izzo considered the NBA for awhile and then said he was a Spartan for life. Do you think him being suspended for nonsense will play a part in him maybe rethinking that or at least retiring earlier than one might think?
Jay Bilas (2:47 PM)
No. The NCAA just made itself look bad, and shot itself in the foot. Izzo will be at Michigan State until he retires. Or, until he gets a gig at Carnegie Hall playing his accordian.
Jay,Somebody already mentioned it, but you are the best analyst on ESPN....Question for you: Kemba Walker's early success put Uconn back in the top 10. Can he singlehandly take Uconn all the way similar to what Carmelo did for the Cuse?
Jay Bilas (2:51 PM)
Boy, I doubt it. Remember, Cuse had Gerry McNamara, Kueth Duany, Josh Pace, Craig Forth and Hakim Warrick. That was a long, athletic and versatile team, and it had experience to go with its youth. UConn has mostly youth, and relies upon Walker almost too much. I think that 2003 Syracuse was vastly superior to this year's UConn squad. What they are doing is remarkable, though. Not many people saw the Huskies as a Top 10 team prior to the season.
Darkhorse for the Final Four? (Somebody outside the Big 6 conferences, perhaps?)
Jay Bilas (2:53 PM)
BYU and San Diego State are the two I would put forth. I really don't see a Butler-type team out there right now. Then again, did anyone see George Mason in 2006?
Blake (Abilene, TX)
Jay, I would love to hear your thoughts on Jordan Hamilton and Texas.
Jay Bilas (2:57 PM)
Very impressed. He has the complete skill set, and with his size, he can be really good. Rick is posting him more, and he is really taking advantage of mismatches. Some people, predictably, went crazy when I suggested that if he stayed in school, he could really develop. They feel that us "college guys" think that the only place you can improve is in college. Of course, it is not. But, Hamilton can learn to manage and dominate a game in college and be fully prepared when he gets to the NBA, and better increase his chances of success by staying and maturing. Plus, he can get an education, too. Not a bad option. Texas has the chance to be exceptional. Cory Joseph is really good. Fast, uses ball screens well, and has a very good feel. Good team.
Jay, your thoughts on whats going on in Starkville?
Jay Bilas (3:01 PM)
It is disappointing to see teammates act like they did. But, they are kids, and kids do dumb things. As for the suspensions and transfer, I am not as down on MSU as others. They know the kids and have a better feel for what is the best thing to do. Years ago, Jud Heathcote was asked why he gave a kid a second chance. He replied, "because he is a human being." I may have kicked the kid off of my team. You may have suspended him for ten games. Every case is different. I will say this, the extra benefit issue had nothing to do with how Sidney acted. Many kids accept extra benefits, and hardly any act like Sidney did in that instance. I am not sure it will work out for Sidney. I hope it does. I cannot see things better for him if he gets booted out of school.
Is it amazing that a guy like Brad Wanamaker could be the heart and soul of a team oriented Pitt team? I mean how many teams would offer him a scholarship?
Jay Bilas (3:03 PM)
A lot of teams would offer him a scholarship. He wasn't a charity case. He is among the most productive and versatile players in the country.
Pete (Pensacola, FL)
Is Kansas the deepest team you have ever seen?
Jay Bilas (3:04 PM)
Remember Kentucky in 1996? That team was pretty deep and talented. Kansas is very good, but not historically great. At least, not yet.
Louis Sparenblek (Pittsboro, IN)
How did you do in your fantasy football leauge(s) this year? Also who do you got winning the super bowl? My colts by chance?
Jay Bilas (3:07 PM)
I suck at picking football games. My friends and I have a little exercise we do every week. We have to pick two games (against the number). You only have to pick two games, college or pro, but you have to win them both. It is amazing how hard it is. My record is right at .500, but if you go 1-1, who cares?! You have to win both. That's why I never gamble. That said, I like Auburn in the Championship Game, and New England to win the Super Bowl. Kiss of death for both.
Who is your most-underrated player on the national scale at this point? Any chance it's a certain power forward from Tucson...?
Jay Bilas (3:09 PM)
Derrick Williams of Arizona is a good call, yes. But, I would throw in Marcus Denmon of Missouri and E'Twaun Moore of Purdue. What does Moore have to do to get more attention? If that kid played at Duke, he would be on every cover of every magazine.
Hey Jay, is Georgetown a real contender to win the NCAA tournament or they just first or second round and done?
Jay Bilas (3:11 PM)
I like Georgetown, but they Hoyas are small and they have been impatient in certain games. But, they have played a really tough schedule. I will tell you this, I think you have to make them run their stuff and they have shown that they may tire of running it as hard as they need to. And, while I am a big Chris Wright fan, he has not handled end of game situations well. Temple and St. John's come to mind. Good team. Not great yet.
Johnny B Good (Malibu, CA)
Jay - Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker 1 on 1. Who wins?
Jay Bilas (3:12 PM)
Who is calling fouls? No refs, Fredette wins because he is bigger and stronger.
I thought lawyers had their senses of humor removed upon passing the bar.
Jay Bilas (3:13 PM)
After working with Bill Raftery, I never pass a bar.
Assuming that Coach K retires with over 1000 wins, is there an active coach who could break that record? Is there one who could match his 4 titles?
Jay Bilas (3:14 PM)
He'd have to be really active. I really don't know. It would be hard to imagine, especially with the money involved in the game now. But, I suppose it is possible. Mark Few just got to 300 in a short period of time. It is possible, but improbable.
Jay, do you ever see yourself getting back into coaching? I don't think many remember that you were a heck of an assistant coach at Duke...
Jay Bilas (3:16 PM)
I don't remember that, either. It was too long ago. I doubt that I would get back in, but I never say never, unless I am saying that I never say never. Then I say never. Twice, actually.
Captain DoLittle (Provo, UT)
Jay - Are you really perpetuating the 30-year-old rumor stereotype with the BYU basketball team? Please lay the stereotypes aside. The average age of the BYU players is less than 22, with Jimmer, Kyle Collinsworth, and Brandon Davies (three starters) not even having served missions.
Jay Bilas (3:19 PM)
I promise never to perpetuate any rumor stereotype, but there are some older players at BYU from time to time. It is not a big deal. It is a good thing. And, I promise not to perpetuate a rumor stereotype that people in Utah go by names like Captain DoLittle. You have to be the only one. By the way, how old are you?
How worried should Georgetown fans be?
Jay Bilas (3:20 PM)
About what? Did more birds drop mysteriously from the sky? Now, THAT is something to worry about. Remember when "bird droppings" had a whole other meaning?
Dan (New Mexico)
Has Dayton emerged as the team to beat in A-10? Seem to be the hottest
Jay Bilas (3:21 PM)
Just finished watching tape of Dayton against New Mexico and St. Louis. They play really hard, and I like Staten a lot. I think Brian Gregory is a truly outstanding coach. Dayton is right there with Temple and Richmond for the A-10 crown. I had thought that XU would be the best team, but injuries have hit them a bit.
Brad Stevens is 34....he would have to coach until age 70, averaging 25 wins/season to reach 1,000. It's such a big number. Wow.
Jay Bilas (3:23 PM)
Good call. Stevens is young enough and talented enough. But, when you do the math, it seems impossible. Had you done the math for Coach K when I played for him, it would have been equally silly sounding, but it happened. Who knows?
Brian (Manhattan, KS)
I'm determined to have a chat talk about Wichita State, thus the bombardment of questions that have not made the chat yet.... The Shockers are legit!!! What do you think?
Jay Bilas (3:27 PM)
I saw Wichita State play in Maui, and I like this team very much. Best team in the Missouri Valley. Toure Murray is the best overall player on the roster, and if he guards, he can be among the better players in the country. I really like David Kyles, too. What an athlete. Th guy that can make a difference is JT Durley. If he plays to dominate inside, he can be an All-MVC player, and give WSU the type of player that can match up with the big boys. They will be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament, and they should be in the Tournament as an at-large.Thanks for sticking around! That was a full conversation! See you next time. Best, Bilas