John (Dayton): The Atlantic 10 is a competitive conference every year with usually two or more teams going to the big dance. Do you think the experts should pay more attention to the conference than they have in the past years.
VITALE: I think the A-10 has a very solid team in Xavier leading the way this season. Sean Miller is a rising star in the coaching profession and he has done a super job there. The conference has a few other good teams, but I don't see more than two making it to the field of 65. It is a conference that deserves respect. I have said that in year's past and I still feel that way.
john, KY: I've emailed you several questions about why Jodie Meeks wasn't mentioned on ESPN when he had 46, and 32 points, guess the answer was he had to go for 54 and break records to be mentioned. Do you think that now he should be mentioned for player of the year with the other great players? I have been a kentucky fan all my life and have watched them for over 30 years and never seen anything as remarkable as what Meeks did last night. Having watched so many games yourself, how do you think it stands as one of the greatest performances of all time? Last but not least, do you think now KY and Meeks will get a little more respect nationally?
VITALE: The performance against Tennessee was as good as it gets. Billy Gillispie's team has been playing good basketball and I feel Meeks should be in the discussion as one of the super six players competing for Player of the Year honors, along with Stephen Curry, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Harangody, James Harden and Blake Griffin.
Have a question to ask Dickie V?
Submit it here and Dick could answer it in a future column.
Chris: Dickie V, I know you said that you were impressed by DeJuan Blair against Georgetown and he is off to a great start to the season. Is he a top candidate for Big East player of the year and he do you think he will be able to be an NBA player?
VITALE: Right now I would have to say Luke Harangody of Notre Dame would be my pick for Big East Player of the Year, but Blair has been a monster on the glass and does a tremendous job for Jamie Dixon's club. At 6-7, he is such a physical presence but it will be a challenge at the next level against so many big men.
Joe Dondanville (Champaign, Ill.): What are your impressions of Marquette's fast start in the BE?Do you think they can maintain this style of play throughout the season, or will the 3 horsemen wear down as they seem to get little rest?
VITALE: Buzz Williams has done a super job in his first season as coach. Marquette is a threat because of its guard play and the trio of James, Matthews and McNeal may be as good as any guard threesome in America. The schedule will be a little more challenging in the upcoming weeks, so we will see if the Golden Eagles can keep this up. I would not want to see Marquette in my bracket come tournament time.
Andy ( Olean): What do you think of Andrew Nicholson the diaper dandy down at St. Bonaventure? Any comparisons to Big Bob Lanier and the glory days.
VITALE: I have not seen the young man play but I have been told about him. Mark Schmidt has quietly done a nice job there and it is saying a lot to compare him to Big Bob Lanier& I coached him with the Pistons and he was a class act, a great player.
jaquam (NYC): Mr. Vitale first I want to say thanks for making college basketball enjoyable. My question for you is: do you think Levance Fields is an NBA player ? If so what role you think he will have on a NBA team?
VITALE: What I love about Fields is his leadership skills and his basketball IQ. He doesn't turn the ball over and makes his teammates better. I think he has a shot to play the point at the next level.
Tom Simons (Denver CO): Mr. "Dickie V" -- It is thoroughly enjoyable watching you on TV at the Denver-Miami NBA game. Your unbounded love & passion for the game of basketball sets you completely apart from all other sports commentators. That's probably the single biggest reason so many people love you so much. I hope you never lose that edge. Keep up the great work. Respectfully, Tom S.
VITALE: Thanks for your kind words. I really enjoyed doing the NBA game out in Denver. The fans and players embraced my role and it was great to see guys like George Karl, Bob McAdoo and Rex Chapman again. The NBA has the world's greatest athletes, guys with incredible agility and mobility.
Mark Fox -- Champaign, Ill: When will Lou Henson be elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame? His accomplishments are up there with the best, and unlike a lot of other successful coaches, he always went to programs that were at their absolute worst and built them, instead of inheriting already successful programs and just maintaining.VITALE: That's a good question. Henson had some great teams at Illinois and also led New Mexico State to some great success as well. I wish he would get a little more love. Maybe the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City will honor him sometime down the line.
Jim: Dick, you had Louisville in the final four at the beginning of the year and now you don't even have them in the top 25. Where do you think they will finish in the BE leage and tournament? Do you think they will make the dance? If so, what seed in the dance?
VITALE: Rick Pitino's team suffered three early losses but has come on strong. The win over Pittsburgh was a big one. Terrence Williams' versatility has been a big factor. This Louisville team will be a contender for the Final Four. Those people who wrote Louisville off early have to re-think things.
Jon -- (Florence, SC): What is your take on the South Carolina team now that Darin Horn has taken over the program? Do you see them making the dance this year? They are off to a good start and a win against Baylor this past week? SEC play begins on Saturday and I guess we will finally find out what they are all about. Starting 5 is pretty solid, but really no bench. With the style of play that Horn likes, this could be a problem with both fatigue and the potential for foul trouble. Downey is the best point guard in the country I believe.
VITALE: The Gamecocks just had a great win over Florida. I feel the SEC is a little bit down this season. Downey, the transfer from Cincinnati, is an outstanding player who doesn't get enough ink. Horn is a good young coach and this team could challenge for a spot in the field of 65.
Auburn Hills: How do you like the player out of Chicago St. PG Dave Holston. Do you think he is tall enough to play in the NBA.
VITALE: I have not seen him play but I heard a lot about his 40-point, 10-assist performance earlier in the season. He is a capable scorer but his size could be a factor in the eyes on NBA scouts.
Wes Dutcher (waverly, oh): Has Kentucky shown you enough since the first week to think that they may finish in the top 25?
VITALE: Yes, I feel Kentucky should be ranked now based on the recent play, including a strong showing at Tennessee.
Lucas Coffey: Dick You said: 6-6 teams shouldn't go to bowl games. There are 64 teams that can go to the NCAA tournament. 32 NIT teams with another 16 in the lower tiered College Basketball Invitational for a total of 113. Not to mention, Kentucky (6-6) defeated Conference USA champion East Carolina (9-4) in the Liberty Bowl. And Vanderbilt (6-6) defeated ACC representative Boston College (9-4) in the Music City. Both games were great football games that: -gave a lot of money to both schools athletic departments -gave each team 15 extra practices -gave the a great memory & experience for the rest of their life -gave them a nice gift bag from the sponsor of the bowl -gave them a chance to travel to a city they have never seen before -let them experience the Bowl experience And helped all 4 teams build on their programs resume for recruiting purposes? Also the kids from ECU and Kentucky who were in the Memphis Liberty Bowl visited St. Jude's Cancer Research Center while in Memphis and I guarantee that was one hell of an eye opener for those young men. Now... Let's go kick some teams out of bowls next year, just because there are too many.
VITALE: I feel that rewarding mediocrity, and that is what a .500 season is, doesn't send the right message. I understand that there are many good charities tied into these bowl games and am happy for their success. That said, I still feel that if a team is .500 in the regular season, it should not be given a bowl bid.
Jerry Effren:: Love your new book; thanks How about my Eagles; want to hear some props from you this week; got our own Diaper Dandy- Mr. Reggie Jackson
VITALE: The Eagles have been up-and-down. Certainly the win at North Carolina was a highlight. Jackson is a talented player who may be overshadowed by Tyrese Rice right now. Down the line Mr. Jackson wants to be Mr. March, not Mr. October!
Vincent (Dublin, Ohio): How much of a problem do you see AAU coaches, parents and hanger-ons overhyping a player? In other words, telling them that they're better than they are and the kid either declaring for the NBA (too early) or feeling like they need to be pro by a certain year?
VITALE: I am often disappointed when players have delusions of grandeur, ideas that they are a lock first-round pick, going for the guaranteed green of the big bucks. Then they find out they got bad advice and become basketball vagabonds. There are not that many guaranteed money slots, and if you don't go in round one, you have to fight to make it.
Greg (L.R., Ark.): Mr. Vitale I was just wanting to know if you have seen much of Arkansas' Courtney Fortson and if so what you think of him. (Diaper Dandy?}
VITALE: I was impressed with the wins over Oklahoma and Texas, though Arkansas got off to a slow start in SEC play. Fortson is a good leader on the court and has a bright future. John Pelphrey is a rising star in coaching.
Mike (Roanoke): What do you think of Virginia's Sylvan Landesburg?
VITALE: It has been rough going for Virginia, but Landesberg has been one of the premier diaper dandy scorers in America.
Nate (NYC): Where do you think Tyler Hansbrough rates all time among college players? Also wanted to tell you I think it is great everything you do for the Jimmy V Foundation I hope and pray that one can we can find a cure for cancer and once again Thanks!
VITALE: Thanks for your kind words. Finding a cure for cancer is so important to me. If you want to help, call 1-800-4-JIMMY V. I am looking forward to my Dickie V gala in Sarasota at the Ritz-Carlton on May 15th. To answer your question, Hansbrough should finish as the all-time leading scorer in ACC history, passing JJ Redick. I think Hansbrough will go down in history as being one of the greatest players to wear that Carolina blue jersey, and he will be regarded as one of the true All-Americans of the last 20 years.
Tim (Austin, Texas): In today's college game, it seems like it's more important to have great guard play to get far in the tournament rather than play from big men. Is guard play more important than the frontline for success (Rose, Chalmers, Conley, Green, etc.)?
VITALE: I think that in the college game, guard play is so crucial to a team's success. Without good guard play, it is difficult to make it to the Final Four and to challenge for the national championship. You see so many good guards out there today and you understand the importance of talented backcourts. Good perimeter play and passing is important to a good offense.
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