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Chat: John Gasaway

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday April 02, 2009 12:00 PM ET chat session with John Gasaway.


It's not March, but it's the last bit of March Madness as John Gasaway of BasketballProspectus.com takes your questions on past action and the Final Four.

John Gasaway: Yo, Hoops Nation! Welcome to the swansong. Itís been a wild ride this year, from VMI winning at Kentucky to, um, a new coach at Kentucky. Tell me whatís on your mind as we bring this rollicking 2009 to a close. Talk to me!

Ryan Campbell (Chapel Hill, NC): In "Four (Tempo-Free) Roads to Detroit," I noticed that each of the four teams held their opponents to 29% or lower on 3pt FGs. Only 3 teams kept numbers like that up through the course of the year. Were the overall numbers from behind the arc that much lower because of unfamiliar courts and cavernous football stadiums? Or does it really take a lucky streak like that to win 3 games against the top 40 or so teams in the country?

John Gasaway: I don't necessarily blame cavernous football stadiums. There were no games being played in them the first weekend and even on the second weekend there were two NBA arenas in use, as Villanova played at the Garden in Boston and Carolina played at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis. Actually UNC's probably a teachable example. During ACC play opponents made about 37 percent of their threes. It would not be shocking if Villanova hit some treys Saturday night, despite the Heels' glittering number for 3FG defense in the tournament to this point.

(That's kind of a sneak preview of my Final Four viewers' guide, which should be posted anytime now.)

John (Lansing, MI): Do you think if the Pitt Panthers were instead from some place like Miami or New Orleans or Phoenix the talk would be about how they are such a great offensive team that can't defend all that well? I'm convinced the only reason people were convinced of their defensive prowess is because they are from Pittsburgh. It's like how people still thought the Steelers were a running team this year.

John Gasaway: There was clearly a misperception regarding Pitt early in the season, with people assuming this was a Ben Howland-era team that was all about D. I think that misperception was largely rooted out, however, over the course of the year and I flatter ourselves at Prospectus that we helped. I know for a fact I heard both Jay Bilas and Mike Kelley (ESPNU) speaking to this exact misconception. Anyway, the reality sank the Panthers' season, as they allowed Villanova to score 78 points in a 67-possession game.

Devin (Green Brook, NJ): With regards to the Western Kentucky question in your last chat - maybe the other teams are just afraid if they don't keep an eye on him, Big Red's going to eat 'em.

John Gasaway: For anyone just tuning in, I had a highly sophisticated theory explaining the Hilltoppers' unmistakable success on offense the last two tournaments: their uniforms, which are a bold red hue. The Gasaway Hilltopper Theory! Woo! Thanks, Devin.

Dexter Fishmore (NYC): John, are you aware that Goran Suton does the Little Things That Don't Show Up in the Boxscore? I think Gus Johnson might have mentioned it once or twice last weekend.

John Gasaway: I cannot for the life of me understand why everyone talks about Suton like he's Michael Santa (former manager, current walk-on at Indiana). To again steal thunder from my about-to-be-posted Final Four preview, Suton has actually looked a lot more like Sean May the past four games. (Plus threes, obviously.)

Josh (Chicago): Yo John, soon you're going to make them have to change the name to Advertising Prospectus. At the risk of that, color me shocked that FinallyFast.com didn't make the cut. Or maybe I'm going crazy, and the user's complaint about his computer now only being "kinda fast" has not graced TV sets during the NCAA Tournament. In any event, it sure seems that way. I do have a real basketball question though. Not only because I'm a Big Ten homer, but I really hope to see a MSU/UNC matchup because it presents a real chess game of strategies. Both teams like to hit the offensive glass, but both teams like to push the tempo off a missed shot. The question is, bail on the defensive glass to get runouts, or stay at home to minimize the other team's 2nd chances (though I do note MSU's defensive rebounding is superb, so maybe they have this figured out). What say you about this choice?

John Gasaway: UNC is able to excel on the defensive glass and run at the same time because they have Ty Lawson and fast wings. MSU is clearly imitating that template with Kalin Lucas and the Summers/Allen types. The Spartans are clearly way better than the Heels on the defensive boards but, of course, there's only one Lawson.

Oh, and don't knock the ads. The NCAA, and therefore the tournament, exists as we know it because of the ads purchased during three weeks in March and April on CBS. I don't know the exact percentage of revenue that the NCAA receives from the CBS contract ($6 billion over 11 years) but I believe it's over 90 percent. Not 90 percent of revenue from men's basketball, mind you. That's 90 percent of the NCAA's total revenue from all sources. The contract with CBS is up for renewal and there's a not inconsiderable chance that ESPN might win the next round, making the Final Four the first major championship to jump off of broadcast TV in the 60-some year history of the medium.

geer08 (Birmingham, AL): Memphis and Georgia seem to be the big losers in the coaching carousel...any insight into who they might hire? Also, your thoughts on Bennett landing at UVA and Arizona not keeping Pennell?

John Gasaway: Memphis was going to be a loser whenever Calipari left. What he was able to do--compete nationally from within a conference that doesn't pose his team much of a challenge--at UMass and at Memphis simply isn't done (well, not outside of Spokane, WA) anyway.

Not necessarily specific to Georgia, of course, but I do have to wonder how long it will be until an AAU coach is hired as a college head coach, simply to formalize the kind of recruiting pipeline that Kansas State secured when they hired Dalonte Hill as an assistant.

My understanding had always been that Bennett would leave only for a job "in the South." I guess Charlottesville is southerly enough.

Pennell knew going in that was the deal. He had an unusually truthful quote this week about how Arizona has "basically missed three years" worth of recruiting. Look for the new hire to endure a Tom Crean-style reboot in 09-10.

William S. (Chapel Hill): Can you tell me why CBS is the only network to show games without showing the shot clock?

John Gasaway: No, I cannot. That drives me crazy too. The NCAA should make that part of the next RFP.

flu-like symptoms (Philly): I grew up a fan of Villanova, but didn't attend the school because they were stingy with financial aid. My wife grew up a fan of Michigan State and went there, because it's a state school and relatively inexpensive. The Wife finds it offensive that I wouldn't root for sparty if they match up in the finals. Based on your analysis and predictive genius, what are the chances that Nova and Sparty play Monday night? and what are the chances of it ending well for me?

John Gasaway: Fortunately for your marital harmony, that is the least likely of the possible title game matchups. Then again Missouri hanging 102 on Memphis was way more unlikely. Better have your sound bites/tickets to ballet, etc. ready just in case.

Mike (Lowell, MA): What has to happen for a Mich St upset?

John Gasaway: Free throws and defensive boards. Points in transition wouldn't hurt either. This has been something of a soapbox with me, but every year Maryland proves me right: one way to beat the fastest-paced major-conference team in the nation is to run on them.

George (Charlotte): John, what do you think are the chances Ed Davis enters the draft?

John Gasaway: 50-50. On the one hand he'll be forgiven for wondering what in the world lottery-bound B.J. Mullens has that he doesn't have. On the other, he would boost his stock tremendously next year by taking on some responsibility in the offense.

Roy (IA): With all the transfers, will next year's Iowa be worse than this year's Indiana?

John Gasaway: Well, the only way to be worse, of course, would be to go winless instead of 1-17. That just doesn't happen often. Plus Matt Gatens is good. I'll say no, but it's close.

Drew (Ohio): Hey, love the chats and appreciate your time, but can you let the powers that be know that BASEBALL starts here in 3 days? A couple baseball chats this week would've been nice.

John Gasaway: What is this so-called "base-ball"? I think Joe Sheehan's up next. Fret not.

MA (Athens, GA): The next UGA (Men's) Basketball coach will be ______ , who will be the ______th coach offered the job.

John Gasaway: Can Bobby Cremins be pried out of CofC?

Robert R. (Milwaukee, WI): What do you think of the Tony Bennett hire by Virginia? I tend to think that there's a recruiting niche to be exploited in the ACC and going with a radically different style of play than the conference norm has a real chance of translating into wins.

John Gasaway: The key will be the recruiting, of course. Bennett will play as slow as Sendek did for years at NC State. Opponents hated playing the Wolfpack, but Sendek acquired a rep, fairly or not, for not landing the talent. Julius Hodge notwithstanding. And, yeah, I'm on the record as thinking stylistic pluralism is good for any conference's teams when they get to the tournament. For the ACC that means hire Tony Bennett. For the Big Ten it means hire Travis Ford.

Jetson (NC): John, I keep reading, even here, about UNC's domination thoughout the tournament. Did I watch a different LSU game than everybody else? The margin didn't bear out the fact that LSU was in a position to win well into the 2nd half. On a related note, it seems to me that UNC is differentiated from the other top PPP teams in that they can adjust to and defeat virtually any defensive strategy or strength. Do you agree? Side (but sort of related) note - I think Ed Davis is good enough to be the leading scorer on an NCAA quality team.

John Gasaway: I don't think anyone is saying Carolina is unbeatable, they've just had to sweat less than UConn was made to sweat by Mizzou. It's true that LSU was in that game for the first 30 minutes. Then again it was Lawson's first game back and since then he's looked like his old self.

Yes, versatility is their look. (My colleague Mr. Pomeroy has a piece upcoming on how the Heels actually excel in slow-paced games.) Of course it was their look last year, too, and KU stomped them into the hardwood in the first 15 minutes. You just never know.

Scott (Greenville, SC): Doesn't all the buzz around Calipari going to UK, prove the point of UK fans? I'm not saying Gillespie should have been fired, but I've heard rumors of the top 3 players from next year's class all going to Kentucky? The immediate effect kinda speaks for itself.

John Gasaway: Bottom line: opponents fear UK now more than they did ten days ago. In Hyman Roth's immortal words, this is the business we have chosen. No one understands that better than Gillispie.

chiheel (Chicago): You mentioned in an article that you feel that UNC has truly improved its defense and might be the best defensive team in Detroit. Do you feel that Carolina has the ability to shut down Villanova and a potential UConn/MSU Monday matchup?

John Gasaway: Woops, got me mixed up with someone else there. Michigan State is clearly the best D, UNC far and away the best offense. In the Carolina vs. Villanova game I expect both offenses will be able to score, UNC because they're UNC, 'Nova because they have those penetrating guards that tend to vex Roy Williams' team (cf. Tyrese Rice, Jeff Teague).

jbuofm (Peoria): Why isn't Wisconsin's Bo Ryan ever mentioned as a candidate for open head coaching jobs? I'm thinking along the lines of Virginia and Georgia, not Kentucky or Arizona

John Gasaway: I believe this is literally true, that he has never been employed as a head coach outside the state of Wisconsin. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Perceptually you can do that in, say, California and no one would blink. But for whatever reason when you do it in the snow-locked upper MW people think you must be chained there. I don't know that it's true, though, for Philly-product Ryan.

Jason (DC): Assuming the allegations against UConn are true, what penalties do you think the NCAA is likely to impose on the program?

John Gasaway: We have a pretty well-established pattern going here. See Indiana: the school self-immolates pre-emptively and a season is lost. The NCAA says, in effect, dayenu.

Bobby (Hartford): I hope it's ok to ask a question about a player who's no longer dancing. If you look compare Ken Pomeroy's efficiency stats with the media hype, it's pretty clear that Jonny Flynn is massively overrated, right? I mean, Pomeroy's numbers say the guy isn't as good as Craig Austrie! People who think this guy is NBA material are delusional. Am I right?

John Gasaway: Flynn had a pretty bad year shooting threes but for two years running now he has shown that he can finish inside. The list of really small and really quick guys who can do that is not long. (Lawson and Flynn. Maybe Kemba Walker is joining the club.) When a player can both penetrate and finish by himself it puts tremendous pressure on the opposing D.

Tim (Chicago): John, The Spartans were very un-Spartan like in their last two games cutting down the on turnovers but not really dominating the glass. How do expect that to play forward against UConn who doesn't generate a lot of turnovers but is pretty good on the boards?

John Gasaway: Well, they were playing Kansas and Louisville. Glass won't be truly owned against those teams, particularly not against Cole Aldrich. Against UConn there will be no turnovers committed by MSU. The larger worry for Izzo is that there will be no free throws for the Spartans either.

Reed (Des Moines, IA): Are you surprised Tim Floyd might leave USC for Arizona? Seems like a lateral move.

John Gasaway: The key word being "might." There are reports he's been offered the job, nothing more definitive. If he's interested I'm sure it means AZ is making an offer he feels SC can't match.

Adam (Chapel Hill): John, any chance we can get chat logs posted after they're over? I never can catch the chat live, but I'd love to see what was said.

John Gasaway: The are all here:


And I do mean all of them, going back almost six years on the baseball side. Enjoy.

Dexter Fishmore (NYC): ESPN has contracted to carry the BCS once the Fox contract is up, I believe in 2011. So college football has already "won" the race to move its championship off broadcast, no?

John Gasaway: College football is not a "major" sport. (Hi-yo!)

Jetson (NC): Great hire on Bennett. Don't tell NCSU fans because they'll refuse to believe you in spite of all the evidence, but it seems having a coach who zigs (stylistically) when the others zag when within 500 miles of Chapel Hill and Durham is a must to compete regularly. Because of this, do you think Calipari and his ilk may be disinclined to ever coach in the ACC? Has the ACC brought in a really big name coach in memory from another power conference?

John Gasaway: Roy Williams was a big name when hired in 2003, right?

Rawk (Blacksburg): Please help me make the argument to my annoying UNC co-worker that the Tar Heels won't be cutting down the nets when all is said and done this year. The deeper you want to go, the better. Thanks.

John Gasaway: Point your annoying co-worker toward tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. Look for "The Count."

Reed (Des Moines, IA): Will Seth Curry be any good at Duke?

John Gasaway: That was really interesting to me. It was almost as if the ACC as a conference was issuing a mea culpa to the Curry family and saying, "Our bad, you were right, we should have recruited your kids. They are good enough." Yes, he should be very J.J. Redick-like.

dianagramr (NYC): Why have coaches sign contracts if you allow them to walk away from them? I'm shocked Memphis let Calipari go.

John Gasaway: They don't walk away from them. Their old schools are often well compensated. See for example Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez and his previous employer, West Virginia.

Tim (Chicago): John, I know that AdjO/AdjD are normalized to take out strength of schedule but I wonder if teams with a huge talent disparity compared to their conference like Memphis and Gonzaga might have been overrated especially defensively? Does some kind of cap need to be put in place for really hammering a poor team (my understanding is there isn't one right now)?

John Gasaway: Gonzaga was indeed dominant on D against major-conference opponents in December. I even did an Unfiltered post on them. Then they lost to Portland State and I never believed any number about them again. (I'm exaggerating.) Memphis was certainly the real deal last year. If they could have made a free throw they would have won the national championship. It's entirely possible for a national champion to come out of C-USA or even WCC. The analytical trick is knowing when to say: yep, they are indeed good enough.

Rawk (Blacksburg): What are the odds of Bruce Pearl being the coach of the Vols to open the 2009-2010 season?

John Gasaway: Still just a couple days or so too soon to say. The dominoes are still toppling. Arizona? USC? Can't picture him shirtless in Pullman, Washington, I'll say that.

Josh (Durham): Do you think Gerald Henderson enters the draft (and stays there?) And how high does he go? His bad performance vs Nova can't help things...

John Gasaway: I think he declares, stays, and goes mid- to late-lottery. Henderson shouldn't worry about the 'Nova game. Eric Gordon went 3-for-15 when Indiana got hammered by Arkansas in the first round last year. Look at him now.

bjealous (NYC): John- Need your help resolving a ridiculous and ongoing debate between some of my idiot friends. In your opinion, where would Siena have finished if they were in the Big 10 this season? Thanks.

John Gasaway: The Siena team we saw pushing Louisville would have finished second in the Big Ten at 12-6. On the other hand the Saints team that lost by 15 at Niagara would have been more of an 8-10 kind of deal. Split the difference, call it 10-8.

Mike (Lowell, MA): Not a big proponent of comparing conferences but after watching the ACC's version of defense in the tournament, is there a chance UNC's offensive numbers could be inflated and defensive numbers actually masking a good defense?

John Gasaway: The ACC played more D than the Pac-10 this year. The average team on the west coast scored and allowed 1.06 points per trip in conference play. In the Atlantic Coast that number was 1.04. (For comparison's sake, in the Big Ten it was 1.01.) I think UNC's offense is excellent, though like any offense they wouldn't score as many points against Michigan State as they would against Arizona.

OK, few more then I have to scoot. For the year! If you're spectating get your hand off the mouse and onto the keyboard--let me hear from you.

jwillie (St Cloud, MN): Are the Gophers safe as to keeping Tubby? Do you see Minnesota being in contention in 2 years with an amazing recruiting class coming in, and young talent already on board?

John Gasaway: Yeah, I think they're safe. Leaving after just two seasons doesn't strike me as his shtick. Absolutely the Gophers can contend sooner rather than later, though Purdue figures to lose no one and therefore be very good next year.

jromero (Seattle): This is purely anecdotal and I'm open to being told I'm wrong here, but it seems to me as I watch the better teams emerge during the tournament that what ultimately separates the winners from the also-rans is shooting. Lots of small schools seem to match up reasonably well athletically with the big boys, but they sure don't appear to me to shoot as well. Any thoughts or analysis to support/refute this? Thanks!

John Gasaway: Your anecdotes are pretty sound, though one teachable example here is actually a small school. George Mason did things during the 2006 CAA regular season in terms of both shooting and limiting makes from opponents that should have presaged at least a second-weekend performance, though no one might have been able to see that team beating UConn in the Elite Eight.

Tim (Chicago): A couple of match ups I would like your opinion on. It seems with MSU's standard starting lineup Calhoun will have Thabeet on Roe. It seems like MSU would much rather have him on Suton so do you think MSU might go small and play Morgan at 4 and Summers at 3 a lot? In the other game how do you see the Cunningham Hansbrough match up? Cunningham held his own against most of the Big East bigs but I wonder if Hansbrough might be too much for him.

John Gasaway: My FF preview is now up so I can steal verbiage from it. At this point in the season Roe is an honorary starter--the match up you speak of would therefore be mostly Thabeet on Draymond Green. It's true that MSU would much prefer for Thabeet to be on Suton (to get the big guy out of the paint) but Izzo has plainly favored a lineup with Suton, Green, Summers/Allen, Walton, and Lucas. With good reason--look where they are. So, yes, that will be the first thing I look at in that game: who is Thabeet guarding.

Cunningham is an absolute warrior. There is hardly a game that goes by where he isn't the "undersized" one. That will be true again Saturday. Can't wait to see how that plays out. He and Dwayne Anderson have been dominating the defensive glass in the tournament.

DaveKavanagh (Dublin, Ireland): Thanks for the chat, John. What record would UNC have if they played in the NBA this year? Which college team would have the best record?

John Gasaway: I'm going to defer to my NBA-heavy colleague, Kevin Pelton, on that one, though "5-77" did pop into my brain somehow. Give my best to the Dubliners.

brian (brooklyn): What are you going to do on Tuesday?

John Gasaway: Now that's what I call an excellent last chat question of the season.

The laptop will remain closed the whole day. I'll pick up my two little boys from daycare/school, ask them what they want to do, and do it.

(Unless they say Chuck E. Cheese.)

John Gasaway: Thanks for a great sophomore season, everyone! Stop by the main page this weekend and then Tuesday for my thoughts on the last three games. Bye!

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