Tag:Dear Gary Mailbag
Posted on: March 9, 2010 12:07 pm

Dear Gary (on UK's inexperience)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I'm not a Kentucky fan, but I'm definitely impressed with their talent/athleticism.  Every time I watch them, however, I also sense their inexperience.  I feel like I'm watching the Fab Five from Michigan circa '92-'93, and that they are one Chris Webber timeout away from ruining a chance at history?  Any thoughts?

-- Farrell

Sure, they're capable of screwing this up.

I think that's a fair assessment.

But they're 29-2 and, like you said, awfully talented. In fact, I'd argue that the Wildcats are slightly more talented than the Fab Five, which makes them a reasonable pick to win the national championship. You can also take Kansas or Syracuse, maybe even reach for Ohio State. But the teams with the best players are the teams that have been winning titles lately, and UK is the team with the best players this season.

We'll see how it goes.

It's going to be a fun few weeks.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:47 am

Dear Gary (on what's to come around here)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: When are you going to announce your National Coach of the Year?

-- Rob

Next week.

I'll have Conference Awards on Monday and National Awards on Tuesday, and I'll be filing daily wrap-up columns (starting Sunday night) for everybody interested in one-stop reading on all the relevant developments as we approach Selection Sunday. Meantime, Jerry Palm will constantly update his NCAA tournament projections , and Brian De Los Santos will handle the Bubble Watch . So it'll be busy around here the next nine days, but we'll get through it, I'm sure. Or at least I think.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 4, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2010 12:43 pm

Dear Gary (on the importance of 'good' wins)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Which is more impressive to the selection committee: Good wins and bad losses or boring wins and no bad losses?

-- Ryan

I'm not sure there's a clear or definitive answer, but my experiences tell me that good wins are the most important thing on any at-large resume. As I pointed out the other day, just about everybody takes bad losses. It happens. But not everybody gets good wins, and good wins are what proves you can -- follow me here -- beat good teams, which is what's required to advance in the NCAA tournament.

All bubble teams that make it will be seeded 11th or 12th (or something like that). Thus, they'll open with a good team and probably play another in the second round, which is why I'd always give the edge to a bubble team with good wins over a bubble team lacking good wins because I'd like to know the team I'm putting in is capable of, you know, beating a good team.

In other words, good wins are crucial.

The odds are stacked against you if don't have them on Selection Sunday.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 3, 2010 1:02 pm

Dear Gary (on the COY race)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How could you leave Thad Matta off your Coach of the Year list ? He won a Big Ten title by moving a forward to point guard, and it didn't matter that his best player missed six games with a broken back. Are you an idiot?

-- Bo

We're on track to set a record this week for emails and Tweets directed at me that include the word "idiot." I'll let you know when I get a final tally. As for the question at hand, no question, you could remove Bo Ryan from my list of eight great Coach of the Year candidates and add Thad Matta. Or remove John Calipari and add Kevin Stallings. Or remove Jamie Dixon and add Buzz Williams. Limiting my list to eight instead of 10 or 14 or 19 seems to be a mistake, at least as far as my inbox is concerned. But let's be honest: The Coach of the Year will be one of the guys on my list of eight, and -- based on how most vote for these things -- I suspect it'll be Syracuse's Jim Boeheim or Kansas State's Frank Martin.

Either would be deserving.

I'll let you know my choice next week.
Posted on: March 2, 2010 12:54 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 12:58 pm

Dear Gary (on my ranking of Butler)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: You seem to be very cautious on ranking Butler close to their RPI of 14-17?  What gives?  Cold feet on the Bulldogs based on beginning of season non-conference losses?  Only questionable loss I see would be Minnesota.  Help me understand your thinking.

-- David

I tend to focus on good wins, good losses and bad losses, and form opinions based on that.

Who've you beaten?

Who's beaten you?

Anything terrible?

Those are the first three questions I ask of any school. It's an approach that allows me to typically gauge teams accurately, although there is a flaw, and that flaw is that it penalizes non-BCS teams that don't get enough done in the non-league schedule. Butler is a perfect example. The Bulldogs have a really good win over Xavier, a nice win over Siena, and not much else besides a perfect Horizon League record, which I admit is impressive if only because there's nothing simple about winning every game even when you have the best team in every game.

No, I don't put much stock into the win over Ohio State. That's probably where I got crossed with the computers, because the computers show a win over Ohio State as a win over Ohio State, but we all know Evan Turner wasn't involved, and that must be considered. That said, I realize the Bulldogs are good, and I still think they'd be a nice dark horse pick to make the Final Four. It's just that they basically finished 3-4 against quality non-league opponents (and one of the wins was against an OSU team missing Turner), and when you focus on that the way I focus on that it's difficult to move Butler too high.

So keeping Butler in the 20s isn't a case of me having cold feet.

It's just the conclusion I reach when I rank teams the way I rank teams.

If you're looking for some good news, consider it is this way of doing things that made me keep Davidson unranked all season the season Stephen Curry led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. I was so wrong about that team it was embarrassing. And I tell you that to tell you I know it's possible we'll look back in a month and agree I didn't give Butler enough credit for doing what it's done the past two months. Bottom line, I don't think Butler is a Top 10 team. But I do think Butler is a team that could end up in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, maybe even the Final Four. I've never moved off that opinion. It's just that the body of works says No. 22 more than No. 12, or at least that's what it says to me.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 1, 2010 10:27 am

Dear Gary (on Kansas-Syracuse)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Did you forget that (Kansas and Syracuse) played last year in Kansas City? Who won that one? ... And Kansas hasn't played a top 10 team yet, so how impressive is that body of work you love so much? Or do you just cling to All-Americans and ride them to their death like in 2003. How'd those Kansas All-Americans fare against the unproven kids from Syracuse?

-- Adam

I guess the first thing I should do is point out that the Jayhawks have a road win over Kansas State, which will be ranked in the top five of the AP poll this afternoon. That makes one of Adam's points moot. And Adam, if you're reading, please write back and explain what a game played last year in Kansas City -- or a game played in 2003 -- has to do with anything related to this week's rankings. Because best I can tell, last season's Syracuse-Kansas game carries about as much weight as last season's North Carolina-Villanova game, i.e., no weight at all.

Anyway, let's be serious for a moment.

There is nothing wrong with voting Syracuse No. 1.

A reasonable case can be made for the Orange.

I know that.

But it's also reasonable to suggest that KU's body of work is slightly better than Syracuse's body of work, and that's what I've suggested. If you want to argue against me, there are some good places for you to start. But pretending Kansas hasn't beaten a top 10 team is silly, and referencing games from past seasons makes no sense it all. If I'm a Syracuse fan, I'm talking about a two-game lead in the Big East, about dominant wins over Georgetown and Villanova, about Wesley Johnson and an offense and defense that overwhelms opponents.

What I'm not talking about is last year.

Or 2003.

But Adam is a dummy.

So he doesn't know any better.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 26, 2010 2:45 pm

Dear Gary (on Few and my Naismith COY ballot)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Seriously?  You submit a list of 30 candidates for Coach of the Year, and Mark Few doesn't even make the list?  He lost four players from last year who are playing professional ball somewhere right now, has had to integrate numerous freshmen into the rotation, and Gonzaga is still playing at a high level and being successful.  Seriously?
-- Colin

I messed up.

No question, Mark Few should be on the list.

In fact, I'm emailing the folks in charge of the Naismith Coach of the Year award right now and altering my ballot. I'll take somebody off and insert Few, who seems to be a victim of my absent mind and his consistent winning. It's to the point where you just expect Gonzaga to be good. All the time. And that makes you -- and by you , I mean people like me -- overlook the fact that the Zags are 22-5 and ranked 18th nationally despite losing four of their top five scorers from last season's team.

Not sure why I overlooked it this week considering I wrote about it last month.

(Click this link to read that column)

But I did overlook it.

And I was wrong to do so.

And because it's not too late to fix it, I'm going to fix it right now.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 25, 2010 10:02 am

Dear Gary (on National Coach of the Year)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Who is your Coach of the Year right now?

-- Mitchell

A few months ago I wrote that Northwestern's Bill Carmody was the leader, which should serve as a reminder that trying to predict these things this early (and, yes, it's still kind of early for COY) is mostly wasted time. I'll explain my thinking as it relates to the Coach of the Year award in an upcoming column, I promise. But for now, I'll limit my thoughts and just show the list of 30 candidates I submitted this morning for the Naismith Coach of the Year award.

Here you go ...

(Names are in alphabetical order)
  1. Steve Alford (New Mexico)
  2. Mike Anderson (Missouri)
  3. Tony Barbee (UTEP)
  4. Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
  5. John Calipari (Kentucky)
  6. Mike Davis (UAB)
  7. Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh)
  8. Scott Drew (Baylor)
  9. Steve Donahue (Cornell)
  10. Fran Dunphy (Temple)
  11. Cliff Ellis (Coastal Carolina)
  12. Ben Jacobson (Northern Iowa)
  13. Billy Kennedy (Murray State)
  14. Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
  15. Chris Mack (Xavier)
  16. Bob Marlin (Sam Houston State)
  17. Frank Martin (Kansas State)
  18. Thad Matta (Ohio State)
  19. Chris Mooney (Richmond)
  20. Kevin O'Neill (Southern California)
  21. Matt Painter (Purdue)
  22. Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook)
  23. Dave Rose (BYU)
  24. Bo Ryan (Wisconsin)
  25. Bill Self (Kansas)
  26. Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt)
  27. Brad Stevens (Butler)
  28. Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M)
  29. Buzz Williams (Marquette)
  30. Gary Williams (Maryland)
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com