College Basketball: Monday 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.
What is your opinion on the recent eruption of
conference expansion? Is having a 16 team conference where everybody
doesnít even play each other a good thing for college basketball?
Coach Matt Painter Ė
Purdue Head Coach
Since it's so new, time will tell if it's good or not.
One thing we know is that you don't have a true conference champion. In a
traditional 10-team league, everyone plays each other and you get a better
idea of who is the real champion. With so many teams in one league it's
impossible to have a balanced schedule for everyone. You'll always have a
debate about who is the best. Maybe that's a good thing. Time will tell.
I was wondering your thoughts on UMass. I know this
year they have been OK, but do you think in the next few years that Travis
Ford can turn the program around and maybe generate as much interest in it
like in the Calipari era? They have a young team and a lot of good transfers
that will be eligible next season. Also do you think that Rashaun Freeman is
an NBA prospect?
They are in the upper half of the A10 this year, but
turnovers continue to be a problem and they will be for the rest of the
season. Freshman Chris Lowe will get better, but the options are too slim
in the backcourt, especially for Coach Fordís style of play. The Minutemen
do have a young team and they will have much higher expectations next year
and the years to come.
I doubt UMass can generate as much interest as they did
during the Calipari era. That has less to do with Travis Ford than it does
with UConnís dominance of the area, for the time being at least. UMass
wonít be the lead sports story in New England for quite a while. That
doesnít mean they wonít be a good team, but that does mean the Minutemen
will have a very difficult time landing the elite recruits in the area.
Another issue is the conference affiliation. The A-10 doesnít stack up with
the Big East as far as national exposure goes. In a few years when the Big
East will inevitably split up, UMass could end up joining the non-football
Big Easters in a new conference, which would increase its national
exposure. I called my connections in Connecticut and we decided that the
non-football Big East conference should grab former Yankee Conference
members UMass, Richmond and Rhode Island and use that moniker for the new
conference. Itíd be a better conference than the A-10 with Villanova, Seton
Hall, St. Johnís, Marquette and Georgetown leading the way. But that is
nothing but speculation, fueled by my personal thoughts on a 16 team
I asked CHN draft expert Shawn Siegel about his thoughts
on Rashaun Freeman. "The disappointing thing
about Freeman is that his production has remained the same since his
freshman year, and he doesn't appear to have improved that much.
Offensively, he doesn't have terribly impressive range, and defensively he
doesn't block shots. The thing that would best give him a chance to sneak
into the late 2nd round is if UMass would make the Big Dance so he got some
What do you think about my Hoosiers this year? What
about once D.J. White is healthy and playing?
I like the Hoosiers this year. Iíll finally understand
where IU fans are coming from if Mike Davis doesnít win this season. The
talent level is way too high not to make the NCAAs. The big win came on
Saturday against Kentucky, which will most likely be a less impressive win
as the season goes on. A three game road trip starting tonight in Charlotte
should create three more wins for the Hoosiers. If not, pundits will start
to complain about IU not being able to win on the road. The Hoosiers will
give the 49ers some payback and shouldnít have many problems against Butler
and at a depleted Ball State squad. And then the fun begins in the brutal
Big Ten schedule.
D.J. White was dressed on Saturday and is expected to
play Monday against Charlotte. If the Hoosiers missed White half as much as
they ended up missing A.J. Ratliff, the rest of the Big Ten should be
worried. White, alongside of Marco Killingsworth, will provide a frontcourt
combination that is second to none in the Big Ten. Nobody else in the
conference has scorers under the basket as prolific as those two.
Have a question? Email Joel at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Weíll post and answer as many as possible.
Please include your first name and home state and put Monday Mailbag in the
Joelís Thoughts of the Week
I was almost ready to give Arizona State some credit for
winning their first four games of the year. None of the victories were
impressive, but they were wins. However, a loss to Utah Valley State puts
the Sun Devils right where we expected, at the very bottom of the
ESPNís ďPride of the ProgramĒ is neat and all, but after
every single one I try to figure out who is coming up next. It always ends
with me checking the index in my Blue Book and losing five bucks to people
who know that Coppin State comes between Connecticut and Cornell.
Old Dominion was the obvious preseason choice to win the
CAA, but things didnít go well this week. After a slim 54-53 win at home to
George Mason, the Monarchs got annihilated at Drexel. The offense isnít
clicking, as was shown by ODUs ten point first half effort on Saturday and
the team cohesion seems to be lacking, which is quite odd for a veteran
Iíve gone way too long without talking about Washington
State and Dick Bennett. We are in year three of the three year plan. Iím
not exactly sure what the plan is, but if it is to finish in the top half of
the conference, the Cougars might be able to pull it off. Washington State
will be tested early with three of their first four conference games coming
against teams currently ranked in the top 25. If Robbie Cowgill and company
lose all three of those, it will be tough to pull back towards the top.
Did the first football-less Saturday (I donít count DII
or DIII) seem long to anybody else? The Tivo was working overtime, since I
watched 20 games in one dayÖactually I went well, well into Sunday morning
catching the games I missed during the day. And it helps with games like
Michigan and South Florida where fast forwarding through the second half is
a smart idea. The important part is that we are now officially in the thick
of basketball season, where every Saturday you can watch hoops from noon to
Seattle University over Michigan State? Absolutely.
Division II Seattle beat Portland, who beat Oregon State, who beat UNLV, who
beat Hawaii, who beat Michigan State. The Redhawks started the season 5-0,
thanks in large part to senior guard Bernard Seals, before losing their last
two games to CSU Monterey Bay and Sonoma State. The Spartans on the other
hand, have won six in a row after their epic loss at the hands of Gonzaga.
Check back each week for Joel Wesler's Monday Mailbag,
and email your question to