College Basketball: Weekly Mailbag
Each Monday, CHN college basketball expert Joel Welser opens up his mailbag to answer
fan questions. One question is chosen each week to be answered by a
few college assistant or head coaches. At the end, Joel also includes
some timely college basketball tidbits. If you'd like to ask Joel a
question or if you'd like to read past editions, check out the
Monday Mailbag archive.
Why don't we see more teams pressing in college hoops?
Not since Nolan Richardson's Arkansas teams have I seen a highly successful
team that uses a full court press/trap. Is there a reason for this?
Coach Darren Kohne Ė Stephen F. Austin University
There are several reasons why I think there are fewer
teams that use the full court press in college basketball. I think there
has been a watered down talent pool in recent years. This is due to NBA
draft entries, addition of more Division I programs, and an overall
diminishment of fundamental players coming out of HS and JC. As a result,
teams have less depth and are not playing as many guys. To full court press
for 40 minutes like Arkansas did, you have to play a lot of bodies and get
them in and out of the game often in order for it to be effective. I also
think that there are less tough kids who are willing to work hard day in and
day out, which is vital to being able to play that style of defense.
After Randolph Morris completes his suspension and is
eligible to play on
January 10th, how far do you think Kentucky will go in the SEC as well as
State College, Pennsylvania
Kentucky has some problems and Randolph Morris isnít the
answer, at least not entirely. Yet, the Wildcats still have a decent record
at 10-4 and have played a very tough schedule. Even teams like Iona and
Ohio are quality teams and are expected to win their conferences. Sure,
itís not what Wildcat fans are used to, but this is still a good, dangerous
tournament team. Morris and Kentucky have a relatively easy road schedule
throughout the month of January and if they can win those games, the
confidence and record will be healthy heading into February and March.
The minutes for the big men have been split between
Rekalin Sims, Bobby Perry, Sheray Thomas, Shagari Alleyne and Lukasz Obrzut.
Adding a steady force like Morris will be very helpful and all those
mentioned will now be ready to contribute when others run into foul
trouble. An injury or suspension always messes up the team chemistry, but
it also allows other players to develop and that depth is never a bad
I see the Wildcats at least getting second place in SEC
East with four or five losses, which is good enough for a decent seed come
tourney time. After that it is all about match-ups. Right now Kentucky is
on the outside looking in at the Sweet Sixteen.
Does it get any better than hearing Jay Bilas and Bill
Raftery desperately double teaming Sean McDonough for two hours? They cannot
stop him. They can only hope to contain him. After all, he's just doing his
job, you know, the whole PBP one. Am I wrong? Am I the only one hoping that
McDonough will quickly rejoin them and replace Dave O'Brien?
Ask and you shall receive, McDonough is back. I
absolutely agree. The trio of Bilas, Raftery and McDonough are magical at
times and amusing at worst. I have no problem with OíBrien, but he doesnít
capture the mood with those two as well as McDonough. The only beef I have
with the old gang is that they can get totally sidetracked for plays at a
time, albeit entertaining. Usually that is fine, after all we are talking
about television, not radio; however, for multi-tasking masters like myself,
I canít look at the TV constantly to see what is going on. I have mailbags
to write at the same time.
It appears that Ben Howland (UCLA), Roy Williams (UNC)
and Billy Donovan (Florida) have gotten their teams off to a great start
(based upon their respective team's strengths; with UCLA's talent base being
considered the highest in pre-season). What other teams and their respective
coaches do you feel have done an outstanding performance so far this season?
There are quite a few from major conferences that are overachieving thus far
based on most peopleís preseason assessments. Take a look at Jamie Dixon at
Pitt, Herb Sendek at NC State and Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. While I think
all of these teams wonít be able to keep it up during conference play, they
have all compiled a nice out of conference record and have themselves in
position for an NCAA bid. Pitt and NC State would have to slip a long way
not to make the big dance, and I think theyíll both make it, but Tennessee
is another story. And we can add Andy Kennedy and the Bearcats to that
group. This team is 13-2 and has played a tougher schedule than the
aforementioned teams. Many, myself included, had UC on the dismal side of
the bubble a few months ago, but they wonít even need a .500 record in
conference play to be a part of the madness.
Have a question?
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Monday Mailbag Homepage.. Weíll post and answer as many as possible.
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Joelís Thoughts of the Week
Wow, conference play is great. When teams have to go on
the road, they are going to lose. It happened to Illinois, Ohio State,
Michigan State (twice), Kentucky, Maryland and N.C. State.
Iím very upset that I get to see provisional Big West
squad UC Davis before I see contender California State University,
Northridge on TV. Speaking of the Big West, what is the deal with UC
Riverside? This is a team that went 0-10 in non-conference play, including
giving up 115 points to Puget Sound. Itís a new season when the conference
begins and the Highlanders are 2-1 with victories over a solid UCSB squad
and at Big West favorite Pacific. Ironically, their loss was against Cal
Poly, the only team they should have beaten all season.
Kudos to Purdue and Northwestern for showing that the
bottom of the Big Ten is not as bad as we all thought. Purdue lost in a
squeaker at Michigan and Northwestern knocked off the Gophers in Minnesota.
The Wildcats should be 3-0 in conference after hosting Penn State on
Wednesday. Unless, of course, Penn State wants to prove that the very
bottom of the Big Ten isnít that bad, but that wonít happen. On the other
hand, it is possible that the Wolverines and Gophers belong in the group
with Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern.
Despite all the early pitfalls, Southern Illinois is 4-0
in a tough conference and 11-3 overall. Two main points come out of this.
1) We all overreacted. 2) It will be a long time before a Saluki steps foot
in Alaska again.
Check back each week for Joel Wesler's Monday Mailbag. If
you'd like to ask Joel a question or if you'd like to read past editions,
check out the
Monday Mailbag Homepage.