We had a chance to do a Q&A with CBS's Seth Davis before the UNC game, but didn't have time to transcribe it until this morning. So here that is - thanks Seth!
What do you think about Duke's season so far and what do you think their prospects are?
Well they've been good, they've been good. Their problems on the road have been a little bit of an eye-opener. Unfortunately, none of the NCAA Tournament games are going to be played inside of Cameron Indoor Stadium so...their difficulties on the road are definitely a concern and I think that it has exposed them a little bit on the defensive end. They were looking like a very, very good defensive team there for a while and i think it's fair [to say] that they're not a bad defensive team, but they're not a dominant defensive team by any stretch.
But they have three players who are...it's good when your best players are also your most talented players and these guys are experienced and I think they really bring a lot to the table. So are they a slam-dunk Final Four Team? Not by any stretch. But I do think that they give you reason to believe that if they can stay healthy, get some good matchups and some breaks, they'll definitely be a factor in the NCAA Tournament.
Speaking of the Final Four, what are your picks currently?
Well I change them by the hour, so I'll give them to you [as I see them] now. I'll give you the Big Three: Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse. If you have to go outside the box a little bit, how about Kansas State out of the Big 12. Maybe not a big sleeper, but I like them. They're tough and have great guards and those are great things to carry into the tournament.
We'll disagree with you on one of those. We think Kentucky is going to run into something related to youth or fouls or foul shooting or half-court offense that's going to hurt them. We'll see how it goes.
I think that's an excellent point, but Kentucky has three players who are probably going to be Top Ten picks including two who are probably going to go #1 and #2. That's a pretty good place to start.
What do you think about Jon Scheyer's prospects as an NBA player?
I think that he'll certainly get a good, solid look. He certainly brings a lot of assets to the table. It's a little bit hard to project his position in the pros. I wouldn't get too hung up on positions, but is he a point guard, is he a shooting guard...he's going to have to break through that a little bit. He's a very, very good shooter, but he's not a lights-out, unbelievable shooter. And also you worry about his ability to get off his own shot which is something J.J. Redick has had to come to grips with. So if you look at J.J., he's played his way with the Magic to the point where he's at least a rotation player and he's a factor and he's in games, making contributions and he's had some really good games.
As good a player as Scheyer is, Redick was a much better college player than Scheyer. If someone like Redick has had to work as hard as he has to be a rotation player, I think it's going to be a little bit tough for Jon to really be a huge factor in the NBA.
On a slightly different note, what's your take on Virginia's Tony Bennett so far?
He's done a very good job. They've lost some games that are not very good but he brings a very unique style. The comments that I hear throughout the league about Tony are similar to what I used to hear in the PAC-10 about having to play Washington State. Their style is just so challenging and that's the first thing you have to contend with. And when you throw guys like Sylven Landesberg and Mike Scott and Sammy Zeglinski...they have guys who are pretty good. So I think that the real rub is going to be over the long haul. How is he going to recruit? Can he recruit players into his system? Are they going to turn out and watch a slower style of play? Sometimes if you're losing games 90-80 rather than 70-60, you can get a little more buzz in your community and more fans in your arena. So he's got his work cut out for him. He's a very, very bright coach, knows what he's doing, knows what he likes and he's certainly off to as good a start at Virginia as we could hope for.
What's your opinion on what's happened to UNC this season?
Well, I think it's normal. Part of what their fans are dealing with is that what they've experienced the last few years is not normal. This is more normal: you have good players, you lose good players, you take a major step back.
They've taken a much bigger step back than I would have anticipated. They have good freshmen, but one of the things [to bear in mind] is that for a couple of years we had ridiculously good freshmen classes nationally, with a lot of freshmen in a lot of places being able to make a huge impact. These last couple of classes and next year you just don't have that many impact freshmen. So to be ranked 15th or 20th or 35th in the class is not as good as [it might have been recently]. So one year's tenth best freshman is not as good as another year's tenth best freshman.
They have guys who have a lot of potential, a lot of upside, a lot of room for growth, but aren't necessarily ready to make a huge impact as freshmen. That's a lot of what they're struggling with.
How did your book. When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball, do and how pleased were you with the sales and reception?
The book did quite well. We had a little cup of coffee on the New York Times bestseller list and it's actually out in paperback now. It was really good for me to sink my teeth into a project like that and take a year and half, two years to delve into a subject and write about it and to publish it was very gratifying. A lot of very, very hard work to do a book as you might imagine. It was a really neat story to tell and I was really pleased with how it came out.
What are you doing with Coke Zero?
I'm helping them promote a really cool idea, which is right up your guy's alley for people who read DBR, called the Department of Fannovation. The idea is to invite fans to go to the website and send in their ideas for the best way to enhance the fan's experience, whether at the game or watching on TV, and Coke is going to take the top 64 ideas and put them in a bracket and then have people vote and let them advance through this bracket. If your idea reaches the Sweet 16, you get $1,000 dollars, and if it wins the championship, you win $10,000 dollars and tickets to the 2011 Final Four in Houston. For Duke fans, the Cameron Crazies and K-ville are exhibit A's of enhancing the fan experience. Participate and help make college basketball more fun, which is the whole point of this.
Any chance you guys go to 96 ideas?
You mean Coke Zero? If the money's right, yeah! If the money's right, yeah, why not.
Speaking of such things, what do you think of expansion?
I think the NCAA is going to take a look at what their options are. If they feel like 96 teams is a better business model, then I would encourage them to do that. I think what they'll find is that people are resistant to the idea because there's just not a call for expansion based on competition. You're not adding teams that are capable of winning the championship. There's a lot of mediocrity in the last few teams getting in the field, so adding more teams that might be .500 or .500 in conference play...I'm not sure there's a huge call from fans to make that happen, but a lot of coaches feel like if you invite more teams then fewer coaches will get fired and I think it's something they need to take a look at.
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