Chat NCAA Tournament with Jason King of Yahoo! Sports
March 19, 2009
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Jason King, national college basketball columnist for <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com">Yahoo! Sports</a>, will join KUsports.com for for a chat at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Got a question about the Jayhawks or the Tournament? Have a query about sleepers or favorites in this year's Dance? Jason's the guy to ask, so make sure to submit your questions below.
Hey, this is Jesse Newell, KUsports.com online editor. I'm happy to have Jason King of Yahoo! Sports in a chat with us today. Jason's run into a little bit of traffic, so the chat is going to start a few minutes late. Thanks for your patience.
There's still time to get in your questions. We'll get to as many as we can.
All right, I think we have Jason with us now. Jason, thanks for joining us.
No problem. Glad to do it. Certainly beats watching Memphis vs. Cal State Northridge (I'm at the Sprint Center)
All right, let's get to some reader questions.
Covering NCAA Basketball nationally, how do you feel about the perceived "East Coast Bias' that is mentioned every year around this time. Teams like Duke and North Carolina play close to home and some highly seeded teams are not so lucky even when there opening rounds near them. And, yes, I'm talking about KU.
Thanks for listening.
Sometimes it does feel as if there's an East Coast bias. I don't think people out there have anything against the Big 12. They just don't get to see these teams play very much. There are so many schools schools and games and leagues out that way that they don't have time to pay attention to what's going on the midwest. That's a shame, considering the last three National Players of the Year came from the Big 12. I don't, however, think bias comes into play when it comes to NCAA Tournament seeding and, morever, deciding what teams play where. Kansas would've been in Kansas City had it been a No. 2 seed and Oklahoma a No. 3. The committee takes care of the highest seeds, in order, by sending them to places closest to their home. Thus, by the time they got around to sending KU somewhere, Memphis and OU had already filled the KC slot. It works out differently every year. In 2004 KU was a No. 4 seed and still ended up in KC, so sometimes it swings in the Jayhawks' favor.
What conference do you think will take the best record out of the tourney?
Probably the Big East. Pittsburgh, UCONN and Louisville are obviously very good. But some of the league's mid-tier teams, I think, have a chance to do more damage than the mid-tier teams in the ACC. I'm mainly talking about Villanova and Marquette. People are sleeping on those two teams, and they could beat just about anybody.
p.s. I forgot about Syracuse. Darn good team
How far do you think UNC will get with Ty Lawson and how far do you think they will get without Ty Lawson?
With or without Ty Lawson I see Carolina getting to the Elite Eight simply because i like the Tar Heels' draw. A lot of people think Gonzaga could knock them out in the Sweet 16, but i'm not one of those people (plus, I think Lawson will play in that game). What worries me about Lawson is the nature of his injury. Unless Mr. Miyagi shows up in North Carolina's locker room, claps his hands and performs his magic, the toe injury is something i think will stick with Lawson throughout the tourney because it's something that can be tweaked so easily. One bad pushoff and he's back to square one. Granted, I guess they coudl give him a shot to completely numb the toe like they did before the Duke game. We'll see. If he plays - and plays well - then I think UNC is the best team in the country. As Bill Self recently said, "North Carolina's 'good' is better than anyone else's 'good.'"
Rapid Fire Round:
Who do you see as the...
Strongest one seed?
Weakest one seed?
Strongest two seed?
Weakest two seed?
Strongest three seed?
Weakest three seed?
Strongest No.1: UNC (when it's healthy). Otherwise I'd say Pitt
Weakest No. 1: Louisville (I know, I know - they won the Big East, but still ...)
Strongest No. 2: Memphis
Weakest No. 2: Michigan State
Strongest No. 3: Syrcause
Weakest No. 3: Missouri
Hey Jason...The Midwest Bracket is loaded....It seems that every game that KU will play will be a tough test. Outside of Collins and Aldrich playing well what do the Hawks have to do to have a chance at advancing to the elite 8 to play Louisville or any other team for a chance to get to the Final Four?
I think the Hawks need to loosen up and play with an attitude insetad of 'playing not to lose.' And I honestly think they'll do that if they can just get by that first round game against NDSU. I worry about the team coming out and playing 'tight.' I know they've been in some rough road environments this season (KSU, OU, etc) and done well. But this will be a different feel for them - - especially with all of those NDSU fans there. Even more than on the court, Collins needs to step up in the locker today and tomorrow and be a leader like never before. Again, I'm not saying Kansas WILL play tight tomorrow, I'm just saying that it's my No. 1 fear.
First off, congratualtions on the Baylor victory last night. Will you be attending any NCAA Tournament games and who is a 6 seed or higher that you feel could make the Elite 8?
Thanks - although I must admit, I'm kinda down on Baylor right now and the whole situation there Anyway .... I'm at the Sprint Center right now. I'll be doing a column off the Maryland-Cal game (I'm sure that one rates real high on your excite-o-meter) and then sticking around to watch the two night games. I'd much rather be in Minny to watch the Jays or in Miami, for obvious reasons.
As for the second part of your questions ... it wouldn't shock me to see Marquette make it that far, just because they would probably have to beat Memphis to get there, and I think that's a possibility. Everyone is down on Marquette right now because they've lost five of their last six beacuse of the injury to point guard Dominic James. But look at it more closely: Three of those losses were to Top 6 teams (and they were all close). The fourth loss was in overtime against Syracuse, and the fifth loss was on a buzzer-beater to Villanova. My point is that I think the Golden Eagles' fortunes may change when they play a few lesser-quality teams.
Other low seeds that could do some damage (but also lose in the first or second round): Clemson, Texas, Arizona, Mississippi State)
What has the transition been like from being a print beat writer to a online columnist...especially covering the NCAA and the tourney? Any surprises?
The biggest difference is that, instead of just one team (Kansas), I've had to learn quite a bit about ALL the teams, which can be overwhelming at times. The other big thing is the size and the reach of the online audience. I got an e-mail this morning that said 2 million people visited Yahoo's college basketball page yesterday. That's hard to fathom. A big reason for that is beacuse Yahoo.com is everyone's home page, where they check their email, etc. So everytime someone is on that page and then clicks on 'sports,' that's more traffic for us. In the past the only hate mail I received was from Missouri and Kansas State fans. Now I've got people on my case from everywhere from Seattle to Miami. Haha. THat's not to say I don't receive nice e-mails, too. I do.
Although having all season to mature, KU still is (and plays like) a young team at times. How much do you think that will affect this team and what is the best way for KU to overcome that?
I think it could effect them in the first game, just because of the nerves that come along with playing in your first NCAA Touranment - not to mention that everyone (media, etc) has been picking NDSU to pull the upset. That could cause them to play tight. I think the best way to overcome that is to make shots early, maybe get a nice dunk or two to rev up the juices. One thing I'll say about this KU team: They may do stupid things sometimes because of their youth, but one thing I've never sensed is this team playing 'scared.' Some these guys freshmen play with the grit and fire of a seasosned veteran or a street ball bully (i.e. the Morris Twins and, at times, Taylor). Sometimes it reminds me of Self's teams at Illinois. Guys like Lucas Johnson, Sergio McClain, Frank WIliams and Marcus Griffin were tough-minded guys, physical guys who never backed down from a challege. In some ways these guys remind me of that
I was saying last week, after KU, OU, and KSU fell in the Big 12 tourney, that the Big 12 should be pleased if it gets two teams in the Sweet Sixteen. Am I nuts?
Nope, you're not nuts. Let's call it like it is: This has not been a good year for the Big 12. It's no one's fault. It doesn't mean the coaches all of a sudden suck or that the programs aren't good anymore. These things are cyclical. I think Kansas has been one of the best stories in college basketball this year, and I think it'd be a disappointment if they didn't make the Sweet 16 considering they're a No. 3 seed. Oklahoma has been very good at times and should make it. Missouri could make it, although they have a tough second round draw in Marquette. Other than that ... Texas is a team that has been a disappiontment (although it wouldn't shock me if they beat Duke simply because of their size advantage) and Texas A&M isn't very good. Okie State ... who knows. The bottom line is that two Sweet 16 teams would be suitable and three would be very good
Do you think the selection committee's decision to base the picks and seeds on teams' "body of work" is a good one, or should more emphasis be placed on a club's position and playing at the end of the season going into the tournament?
I think the 'body of work' should be the most important thing. Those early-and-midseason wins should count for something, too. Look at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs got hot at the end of the year and snuck into the tournament while Tennessee - the team they beat in the final - sucked down the stretch. Still, Tennessee's body of work was much, much better. So it'd have been wrong to seed MSU ahead of them. I just realized that that's probably a terrible example. And I DO think that they way a team is playing at the end should be taken into consideration. But, to me, the body of work is the most important.
All right, we have time for two more questions for Jason.
Do you really think this Kansas team, after an embarrassing loss to Baylor, will not come out full guns and show NDSU why they are the defending National Champs?
I tend to agree with you and think that they will - for two reasons. 1. The Coach. Bill Self will have these guys fired up. They'll be in the right frame of mind. And if Self doesn't get them there, Collins will. 2. The makeup of the young guys: As I said before, these are tough-minded, hardcore players who won't back down. I just hope they don't underestimate NDSU - and I hope they find ways to get Cole the ball
OK, last one.
In my opinion, the fact that Kansas won the Big 12 regular season despite losing 85% of its scoring from last year says more about how weak the Big 12 is than it says about how good Kansas is. The Jayhawks will be more of a threat next year than they are this year. Do you agree?
I do think that a weak Big 12 has contributed to KU's success but, at the same time, I don't want to take anything from this team and what it's accomplished. The beat the Pac-10 champ (Washington) and should've beat one of the best teams in the Big East (Syrcause). And, for a young team, they showed unbelievable poise on the road against Kansas State and Oklahoma. I still think this is Self's best coaching job since he's been here. As far as next year ... they'll be REALLY good if Sherron and Cole come back. But I don't think that's going to happen. My gut is that Cole will come back but that Sherron will leave. ANd if he does leave, he should not be knocked for it, even if it doesn't seem like the best decision. The guy has a kid and, as has been well-documented, a somewhat unstable family situation. He may feel like he needs to address those things by turning pro. Self will do his best to talk him out if, and I'm sure he'll make a tempting sales pitch. But if it fails and Sherron decides to jump, fans should remember him in an extremely positive light. Everyone talks about "the pass" he made to Chalmers to set up the big shot. But I'm not sure KU would've even been in that game it not for Collins' performance earlier in the tournament. Go back and watch the UNC game and look at the plays he made to stop UNC's run and put the game away semi-late in the second half. Look at the plays he made to help KU beat Texas in that Big 12 title game for the ages. And, of course, KU wouldn't have come close to winning the league title outright this year if not for Collins. Sorry to get on that soapbox. I'm just baffled sometimes when I hear fans criticize him and the fact that he may leave. Hopefully he comes back, though, because I seriously doubt KU is going to get John Wall. And it may be a year, from what I've heard, before Elijah Johnson can be counted on to step in and play a big/starting role.
Thanks again for taking the time to join us, Jason. I know in addition to writing for Yahoo! Sports, you've also been busy with your book. How's that going?
It's going extremely well. All of the Borders, Barnes and Noble and Kansas Sampler stores continue to order more copies, so I guess that means there's stilll interest in the national title team. The one frustration is that, even though its done great in the state of Kansas, there are still thousands of KU fans outside the state that probably don't know about it. So for them ... the book is called "Kansas Jayhawks: A Year to Remember - Inside the Greatest Season in KU Basketball History" and you can order it at www.kubook.net>
Also, because our autograph signings with Mario were so popular, we'll be doing a few more with him during the offseason. Looks as if we'll be making a stop in Garden City on June 20, and there's also talk of another signing in Wichita and Emporia around that same time. Keep checking back on the website for exact dates and times.
Thanks so much for having me guys. Enjoy the tourney.
Thanks again, Jason, for joining us, and thanks to all the KUsports.com readers for your questions.