Chat with Eamonn Brennan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan will be here to chat some college basketball.
Brennan started with ESPN.com in December 2009. He writes for the College Basketball Nation blog.
Send your questions now and join Brennan Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Eamonn Brennan (2:03 PM)
Welcome to the 2 p.m. chat. I'm your host, Eamonn Brennan, and today we'll be discussing the merits of multilaterism in U.S. foreign policy and taking a didactic look at Bartleby the Scrivener's relevance in modern society.
Eamonn Brennan (2:03 PM)
Just kidding. We're talking about college basketball. Bring it, kids.
If Dwill comes back, is AZ a serious title contender next year?
Eamonn Brennan (2:05 PM)
Just about. They'd return most of this year's team with arguably the nation's best player and a top 10 recruiting class filling things in around the edges. I'd like Arizona to get better defensively before we start talking title ... but if Williams is back, they're awfully scary.
Eamonn, as an Arizona fan, the longer Williams puts off this decision the more optimistic I'm becoming about him possibly returning. I mean, if he was definitely going to declare he would have done it by now right? I really think there's a chance he comes back.
Eamonn Brennan (2:07 PM)
That's some classic fandom-based wishful thinking there, Dave. It doesn't mean you're wrong. It also doesn't mean you're right. I wouldn't read too much into Williams's delay here -- he's taking his time, as is his right, but I don't think that necessarily means he's leaning one way or the other. He just isn't rushing into anything.
Kevin Shaw (NYC CT)
WHo is your POY for the WHOLE year (nonconf, conf,postseason). I think its Kemba Walekr hands down his resume is untouchable this year. why or why not?
Eamonn Brennan (2:08 PM)
I wrote about this yesterday: Ken Pomeroy built an efficiency-based individual performance award this season, and yesterday he awarded it to Jared Sullinger for his entire body of work throughout the season. Kemba finished second. Jimmer finished third. I don't have a problem with any of them winning for any number of reasons, but obviously Kemba's team had the best postseason, so depending on how much that factors into your POY opinion, you could make a strong argument that he deserves the award.
How long until Butler lands a top-tier recruit? We just missed out on Zeller.
Eamonn Brennan (2:11 PM)
Dana and I discussed this on the podcast yesterday. It's an interesting dynamic. Landing top-tier recruits usually means dunking yourself in the AAU-runner-agent muck, and I'm not sure Brad Stevens wants any part of that. It also means going after guys that typically put facilities higher than tradition on their list of desires, and the Bulldogs offer much less of the former than they do the latter. But Butler has made strides recently -- Khyle Marshall was a fringe top-100 guy, and Stevens landed him after last year's run. So, you know, we'll see.
Kyle (Champaign, IL)
Hey Eamonn,What do you think of Jereme Richmond's decision to go to the NBA and without him, where do you think the Illini finish in the Big Ten next year? Thanks
Eamonn Brennan (2:16 PM)
I think it's maybe a little bit questionable, and it was no surprise to hear my Illinois alum buddies freaking out over why Bruce Weber couldn't manage to keep Richmond on campus long enough for him to be an impact player. But I think every decision is different, and I think Richmond had his share of off-court issues that made this decision a little bit easier (and easier to live with) than it otherwise would have been. Strangely enough, I still think Illinois as a top-half Big Ten team -- I wouldn't be surprised if Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson end up being a very good backcourt duo, and Meyers Leonard is the kind of big Illinois hasn't had in four years (i.e., a banger whose scoring doesn't rely on jumpers and hook shots). I'm intrigued by the Illinois. But I would have been much more intrigued if Richmond was in the lineup, sure.
Eamonn Brennan (2:16 PM)
(Sorry for the delay there, guys. My wireless router decided to momentarily freak out. Might have to head out Californee way, find me some Internet.)
Kevin smith (charlotte)
Hey Eamonn do you think that Harrison Barnes is going to be back at school next year? thanks
Eamonn Brennan (2:18 PM)
I do not know, but the rumor mill seems to think he's leaning toward coming back and playing for a national championship. I can only imagine the angst in Carolina right now.
All these articles coming out about Uconn having cheated 3 years ago are overshadowing what the team accomplished being the first team ever to win a NC when not being ranked in the preseason.
Eamonn Brennan (2:18 PM)
That's probably true ... but then again, don't break NCAA rules and you don't have that problem.
CHARLES (Pigeon Forge, TN)
what are your thoughts on mephis for next year? With Will Barton and Wesley Witherspoon already saying they will be back next year and the addition of Adonis Thomas do the Tigers have a reasonable shot at winning the NCAA Tourney next year? What are your thoughts on Josh Pastner as coach? I think he is a younger version of John Calipari.
Eamonn Brennan (2:19 PM)
Whoa whoa whoa ... Adonis Thomas is going to be good, but Memphis's freshman have a LONG way to go before we're talking about a national title run. I mean, did you see that team this year?
your colleage Andy Katz is reporting that Miami will not pursue Frank Martin....why wouldn't they at least inquire?
Eamonn Brennan (2:21 PM)
Money. Miami would have to seriously increase its financial allotment for basketball to lure Martin and key members of his staff, and apparently the Hurricanes don't care enough about basketball (or just really don't have the money to spare) to make that sort of commitment. It's a shame, because there might not be a more perfect coaching fit at Miami. But such is life in the big leagues.
Toby (Wrigley, KY)
Jones and Knight both returning to Kentucky?
Eamonn Brennan (2:22 PM)
More like neither. Both have solid NBA prospects and both would find themselves competing for touches with what might be the best recruiting class (Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, etc. etc.) in Calipari's history. Sorry, but it's not going to happen.
Mark (Beaufort, SC)
Eamonn, do you think that all the low seeds in the Final 4 was a good thing or a bad thing?
Eamonn Brennan (2:24 PM)
A good thing! I'm not sure how seeing two unlikely underdogs make miracles runs to the sport's greatest stage could be bad, unless you're talking about TV ratings ... but the Final Four ratings were the highest since 2005. No, Butler and VCU were pretty much awesome all the way around.
How good do you think Vandy will be next year? Does Taylor come back?
Eamonn Brennan (2:25 PM)
If Taylor and Jenkins are back in the fold, with Festus "For The Rest Of Us" Ezeli in the middle, that's an awfully good Vanderbilt team. Top 10, top 15 to start the season, I'd think.
Alex (Chapel Hill, NC)
If Barnes comes back, UNC is clearly the national title favorite...right?
Eamonn Brennan (2:27 PM)
Yes. Kentucky and Ohio State will be right up there, but from a preseason favorite-finding standpoint, neither will be able to match UNC's combination of talent, cohesion or immediate experience. And we all saw what Barnes did the second half of the season. Imagine if he comes back and plays like that for four months.
Joey (Jersey City)
Despite the rise of cinderella teams the past two years, how do you like the chances of traditional powers like Duke, UNC, Kentucky, Michigan State, UCLA, Syracuse and Kansas next year?
Eamonn Brennan (2:28 PM)
As a whole, you always like the big boys' chances. I think the mid-major thing we're seeing speaks to some form of change in the sport, but I also don't think we'll see too many VCU-Butler Final Fours in the years to come. More often than not, the big boys are there at the finish. If players like Sullinger continue to turn down the the draft, next year could be much more top-heavy than we've seen in a while.
Bobby (Schaumburg, IL)
Is there any hope of the Final 4 being played in a normal sized arena and instead of one of these huge venues that obviously hurt the shooting of the players? It isnt like the fans in the 900th row can see anything on the court anyways. Keep up the good work and the caffeine, it is fun following you on twitter. Thanks, @BMeng7
Eamonn Brennan (2:30 PM)
First of all, thanks. I do my best.
Eamonn Brennan (2:33 PM)
Second ... I'd LOVE if the Final Four was played in a classic college hoops arena, but that won't work, obviously, so a return to a regular arena would be great too. Unless you have 40,000 screaming Butler fans in the building (i.e. last year's national title game), it's easy for the Final Four atmosphere to feel a little sterile. But I do think the sightlines thing is overrated; we've seen players shoot just fine in 70,000-seat arenas. And I do think there's something to the notion that fans just want to be in the arena even if they have to sit a gazillion miles away. You want the ticket, you want to say you were there, you want to witness your team's title in person -- even if you're watching most of it on the video board. If you shrink the Final Four to a 20,000-seat arena, regular fans get priced out, and the corporate sponsor seats take over. That's a recipe for sterility, too.
Eamonn Brennan (2:34 PM)
Bottom line: The NCAA likes selling 70,000 tickets. It also likes the notion of the Final Four as a capital-E Event that *requires* 70,000-seat stadiums. So it's not going to change whether we like it or not.
For those of us who simply watch the sideline demeanor and press conference comments, can you give some insight into what Brad Stevens is truly like as a person? To me he seems like the future of college basketball coaches and someone who will go on to break records while maintaining a clean and honest program.
Eamonn Brennan (2:37 PM)
Well, I don't know Brad much better than most, but the few times I've talked to him outside of press conferences, he's been the same way he is on the game's grandest stage. (Sorry, Masters, you don't own that phrase.) What's more, he's coaches the same way whether it's a Final Four game or a January road trip to Valparaiso. I don't know what records you're referring to, but I do think he is a model for young, aspiring coaches everywhere. Be thoroughly prepared. Keep calm. Exude an aura of confidence. Build your team into a family. Be gracious and humble. Don't forget your roots. Money isn't everything. And so on. You hate to gush about any college coach, because they let you down more often than not, but Stevens does feel like an exception.
Is it possible for Coach Cal to go to the Knicks in the offseason. If he does, and Marquis Teague comes to Louisville, where do you have them ranked.
Eamonn Brennan (2:40 PM)
Wow. Robby, I love ya, but you just took like three ridiculous leaps in two questions. For one, the Cal-to-the-Knicks thing isn't real right now, as far as I can tell ... but I do think Calipari is always eager to entertain NBA offers, and the Knicks would be a hard one to turn down. That said, let's wait until something like that actually happens before we start tossing Kentucky's recruits onto other rosters and predicting their preseason rankings. Simmer.
Noolee Kim (Los Angeles, CA)
Do you think Larry Drew II will make UCLA a national championship team?
Eamonn Brennan (2:42 PM)
Is it outsized expectations day, or what? Noolee, did you see Larry Drew II play for UNC? Did you see UNC immediately become better when Drew left the starting lineup and Kendall Marshall took over? Drew II is a good defender and a bad offensive player, a guy who clearly has a few attitude issues to work through -- he ditched his team midseason over a lost starting spot, after all -- and UCLA isn't a national title contender anytime soon anyway. If the Bruins did win a national title in the years to come, it won't be because of Larry Drew.
Seems like a lot of the espn writers like forde have a bone to pick wih Calhoun and therefore they cant get over the whole violations thing. If butler had won there wouldnt be any talk about how bad the game was. It would be about calhoun losing his touch or how Brad Stevens is the best coach ever.
Eamonn Brennan (2:44 PM)
No one has a specific bone to pick with Calhoun, and I'm pretty confident a game THAT bad would have received attention no matter who won. If there is a bone to pick, it's that the NCAA just awarded its national title to a program on probation led by a coach who has to sit out the first three games of next year's Big East schedule. It doesn't diminish UConn's accomplishment, but it does diminish the joy anyone would take in crowning a national champion each season.
What are your thoughts on Kyrie Irving going to the NBA, he barely played during the season and was descent in the tournament, not outstanding.
Eamonn Brennan (2:46 PM)
Eh, he was pretty outstanding in Duke's loss to Arizona ... 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting is awfully good whether you win or lose. That said, I'm not sure Irving is necessarily ready for the pros right now. It might take a year or two, because while he's explosive enough, he doesn't have that Russell Westbrook-Derrick Rose-John Wall-type athleticism that will make him a factor in the league before he learns the ins and outs of the point guard position in the NBA. But I do think he'll be a solid-to-good pro in the years that follow.
What do you think of NC State hiring Mark Gottfried? I think they actually got a better hire than Shaka Smart, who while considered a rising star, doesn't have much experience as a head coach. A lot of up and coming mid-major coaches that moved on to Power 6 conference jobs couldn't cut it.
Eamonn Brennan (2:48 PM)
Shaka would have been the exciting, high-risk high-reward choice. Gottfried is the you-know-what-you're-getting pick. I don't think NC State is going to topple Duke and UNC anytime soon, and I don't know that NC State's fans will give Gottfried a long leash if he doesn't produce in his first three seasons, but all in all, the hire could have been a lot worse. (Or a lot better.)
Randy (Hollywood, ca)
Does the potential NBA lockout force potential first rounders to think twice before coming out of college? Doesn't another year in college sound a lot better than playing no ball for most of the year without getting paid? Thanks
Eamonn Brennan (2:50 PM)
It does, doesn't it? That said, if you declared for the draft right now and the lockout ruined the next NBA season, presumably a top draft pick's agent could get him a loan that could be repaid as soon as his contract went into effect next year. But that's just the financial side of things. The hoops side is even more uncertain. So, yes, I do think the lockout will (and already is) causing potential picks to think twice about whether they want to assume the lockout-related risk of losing their amateur status right now.
BILL WEITLEL (ORLANDO FLORIDA)
HOW WILL THE GATORS LOOK NEXT SEASON?
Eamonn Brennan (2:52 PM)
I THINK THEY WILL LOOK GOOD. THEY HAVE A LOT OF NICE PIECES RETURNING AND AN EXCELLENT RECRUITING CLASS ARRIVING, HIGHLIGHTED BY BRADLEY BEAL, A SHOOTING GUARD RANKED IN ESPNU'S TOP FIVE OVERALL. THE GATORS WILL BE AROUND THE TOP OF THE SEC AGAIN. AND MAN, I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU GUYS WRITE IN ALL CAPS LOCK, BECAUSE THIS MAKES MY EYES HURT.
will (Storrs, CT)
OK, Eamonn I need your take on this. A few hours before the UCONN GTOWN game in the big east tourney, I found a connecticut state quarter on my lunch table. I have had it in my pocket for every UCONN game since and as you know they did not lose since. Is this quarter magical?
Eamonn Brennan (2:53 PM)
Yes. You should probably have it framed and put next to your work desk or on your mantlepiece for safe keeping. That quarter is a winner.
Charles (San Jose)
It's revealing that an up-and-coming coach like Sydney Johnson would leave his alma mater to make a lateral move at best just for cash. Isn't the basketball program at Princeton enough of a source of pride to pay market rates?
Eamonn Brennan (2:55 PM)
Yeah, that surprised me. You'd think Princeton would be able to afford to pay a coach the same as Fairfield, especially because a) people LOVE basketball at Princeton (don't they?) and b) Princeton has plenty of rich alumni that would conceivably be open to donating a few extra dollars to the program, even if it means eschewing that upgrade house in the Hamptons. Also, I'm just stereotyping here, and mostly joking, so please don't get mad at me, Princeton fans. But bottom line: I thought Princeton would be able to keep Sydney Johnson. I'm surprised that it couldn't.
Why are people making so a big deal about the talent level being down this year when before great highschool players could just leave to the NBA?
Eamonn Brennan (2:57 PM)
Because there always has to be some explanation for the things that happen in college basketball. If high schoolers are leaving for the pros, the talent in hoops is diluted. If players are leaving after one year, "experience" takes on a much greater magnitude. In reality, there are only a handful of true one-and-done players each season, and while they've made bigtime impacts, the game is much larger and more prone to various weirdnesses -- see the 2011 NCAA tournament -- than can be explained by the one-and-done.
Eamonn is Frank Haith searching for a new job in three years?
Eamonn Brennan (2:59 PM)
I think he'd have to have a massive flameout to get that kind of short leash, and I tend to think any coach deserves a fourth and fifth year to put their stamp on a program anyway. Next year will be worth watching, though. If Haith succeeds with this group of players -- five starters should return from this year's team -- then he'll be in decent shape. If he significantly underperforms relative to Mike Anderson, the already-wary Missouri fans will not be pleased.
Larry Drew II (Los Angeles, CA)
The 2009-2010 Duke squad had no business winning a national title, but they won. I have more talent in my right pinkie than that whole team. If that team can win it then any team can win it especially UCLA. I am going to prove you & all the haters wrong.
Eamonn Brennan (3:01 PM)
Allrighty then. Thanks for checking in, Larry.
Doug (Bowling Green)
Best single game performance by one player in the last 5 years????
Eamonn Brennan (3:03 PM)
I don't have time to go back through the logs and find it, but I'd have to think Norris Cole's game vs. Youngstown State this season is up there. Dude scored 41 points on 11-22 FG, 5-10 from three and14-17 from the line. He also had 20 rebounds -- 20! -- and was one assist away from one of the most ridiculous triple-doubles ever. Anyone have a better game than that?
Eamonn, when does the didactic look at Bartleby the Scrivener's relevance in modern society begin, because I keep waiting.
Eamonn Brennan (3:04 PM)
We cancelled that seminar today. Turns out everybody just wanted to talk about college basketball instead.
RE Princton (and Sydney Johnson)
I don't think it had as much to do with money and more to do with the sustainability of the program - Harvard was reducing its admissions for bball and Princton wasn't.
Eamonn Brennan (3:06 PM)
That's a reasonable point. The changes Harvard has made to the hoops program (admissions standards, scholarships) has put a lot of pressure on the rest of the Ivy League, and some schools aren't willing to capitulate to keep up. Fair enough.
Meeks game against Tennessee a couple years back has to be up there. He scored 54 points on 24 shots I think it was.
Eamonn Brennan (3:08 PM)
Re: The best game of the last five years. This is an excellent submission, and I can't believe I forgot it, because I watched the game from start to finish. Anytime you break the single-game scoring record at a place like Kentucky (held by a player like Dan Issel), well, yeah. That's a finalist. http://scores.espn.go.com/ncb/recap/_/id/290132633/boxscore?gameId=290132633
T.J. (Norman, OK)
What team do you foresee showing interested in Bruce Pearl? OR is there a team brave enough to test the waters for him?
Eamonn Brennan (3:09 PM)
Not this season. I think Pearl will coach again, but no team would takek the chance on hiring a guy that could very well receive a show-cause penalty from the NCAA this season. If that happens, Pearl might make his way to the pros, a la Kelvin Sampson, for a stretch. Or he could try TV. If not, another school will take a chance on him in a year or two.
Dizzle (SLC, UT)
Best Single Game (RE: Doug (Bowling Green)Excuse my short memory but Jimmer's 52 points vs UNM with only 1 free throw should be high on the list
Eamonn Brennan (3:10 PM)
Over or Under: 3.5 years for Sean Miller to take AZ back to the final 4
Eamonn Brennan (3:10 PM)
Ben (Overland Park)
Eamonn, what do we do now until November?
Eamonn Brennan (3:11 PM)
Spend time with family and friends, read a good book, finish that personal project you've been putting off for six months ... ha, just kidding. Read the blog and pine for college hoops every day. That's basically what I'll be doing.
Eamonn, you should do an article on the best 5 performances over the last decade. And rank them 1-5.
Eamonn Brennan (3:13 PM)
I think we just found an offseason blog post series subject. Thanks, guys!
phil (lake forest)
how do you plan to spend your weekend Eamonn??
Eamonn Brennan (3:14 PM)
In the immortal words of Peter Gibbons, I will do nothing. First postseason weekend. It's going to be glorious. (And also, when a hoopsless Saturday hits, very depressing.)
T.J. (Norman, OK)
What do you think will happen first - Bill Self fired from Kansas b/c he can't win the "big games," OR Brad Stevens accepting a major program offer?
Eamonn Brennan (3:16 PM)
I don't think either is going to happen for a very, very long time, but I'll say Stevens ... Self isn't going anywhere, now or in the future. Kansas has won six straight Big 12 titles under him, and the Jayhawks won their first national title in decades in 2008. Self is there for life.
Eamonn, do you think the decisions by Sullinger, Zeller, Henson, etc. to return to school and pass on the NBA draft will make players such as Derrick Williams, Alec Burks, etc. who are still mulling over the decision more or less likely to declare? Or have no impact at all? I could see it possibly inspiring players to come back or tempting them to go pro because of less talent entering the draft and therefore helping their stock. Your thoughts? Thanks.
Eamonn Brennan (3:18 PM)
I'm going go with "no impact at all." That's because, as you outline, it could go either way: Players could see their peers deciding to stay, and think "hey, that's not such a bad idea." Or they could see them stay and go "wow, this draft is really watered down, I could get top five money!" Williams is a top five pick regardless, but you get the point. I don't think it matters much.
Eamonn, who wins in a fight, you or Diamond?
Eamonn Brennan (3:19 PM)
Diamond and I are blog brothers from another mother. We would never fight. The point is moot.
Some of this is hypothetical, but still have to ask. What are UK's chances next year if 1) Jones and Knight both go, 2) only one of them goes, or 3) they both stay (I know...doubtful)?
Eamonn Brennan (3:20 PM)
Weirdly enough, their chances are almost exactly the same. That's a really, really good class Kentucky has coming in. They'll be in the top five to start the season even when -- and, yes, it is WHEN -- Knight and Jones go pro.
Bill Self ((recruiting trail))
Can't win big games? Maybe TJ from Norman should come and kiss my national championship ring.
Eamonn Brennan (3:20 PM)
Figured you might want to get a word in edgewise, Bill.
James Fredette (Provo, UT)
Can I get Rick Reilly's phone number from you?
Eamonn Brennan (3:21 PM)
I don't have it, and if I did ... well, yeah, I don't think that would be such a great idea.
Brad Stevens (Indiana)
Eamonn, when is the discussion on merits of multilaterism in U.S. foreign policy and taking a didactic look at Bartleby the Scrivener's relevance in modern society, because I am tired of basketball.
Eamonn Brennan (3:22 PM)
Like I said, we postponed those seminars. College hoops was the popular subject, and I like to let my students dictate the curriculum. We'll circle back to both in the weeks to come.
Come on Eamonn, how can you not even mention Lester Hudson and his QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE from a couple years ago?
Eamonn Brennan (3:23 PM)
And so it was mentioned ...
Could Arkansas be a darkhorse next year with the big recruiting class being coached by Mike Anderson instead of Pelphrey?
Eamonn Brennan (3:25 PM)
Potentially, yeah, if Anderson keeps those guys around. Dark horse is a good way to describe -- could be surprisingly tough thanks to some talent and Anderson's style, but won't be a real, legitimate contender until the depth arrives and Anderson has a few years to build things from the ground up.
Dizzle (SLC, UT)
So E, Why did ESPN play down Jimmer winning the Naismith? I.E.: no blog post, back story from "news services."You expect the same when he wins the Wooden tonight?
Eamonn Brennan (3:26 PM)
Well, see, there was this thing called the Final Four ...
Eamonn, seriously, we have to end this thing otherwise I will have not accomplished anything for an entire afternoon.
Eamonn Brennan (3:28 PM)
All right, everyone, Ben is a horrible procrastinator, so let's do him a solid and end the chat at the 90-minute mark. As always, thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. And as always, be sure to check out the blog, where we'll be posting pretty much every day throughout the offseason (barring some much-needed vacation time here and there). Cheers, everyone!