Commentary

Roundball Chatter

Updated: February 27, 2009, 5:20 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

• Think about the job that Bill Self has done at Kansas. This is a program that lost six standouts from last year's national championship team. How many people would even be competitive after losing the likes of Darrell Arthur, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Rush, Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson? Well my friends, this Kansas team has a lot of young talent and Self has made all the right moves. After Monday night's win at Oklahoma, the fans in Lawrence are screaming about rock, chalk, Jayhawk leading the Big 12. It is amazing how much this team has improved since I called their game against Syracuse in Kansas City, Missouri during the College Basketball Hall of Fame induction week.

• Congratulations are in order for a couple of Hall of Fame coaches. Jim Calhoun became the seventh Division I coach to reach 800 victories. His Connecticut Huskies got a big, big W at Marquette behind a brilliant performance from AJ Price. Jim Boeheim of Syracuse had a milestone too. When his Orange beat St. John's, the program enjoyed its 31st season of 20 or more wins. Talk about a consistent winner! Syracuse should be back in the big dance after a two-year absence. Boeheim has always put up impressive numbers, but now he holds the record for most 20-win campaigns, passing the Michelangelo of coaching, Dean Smith.

• It was tough to see Marquette guard Dominic James go down with an injury against Connecticut. This is his senior season, and his college career may be finished due to a broken bone in his foot. James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews all came back for their final season and had something special going. Now the Golden Eagles have a tough task ahead with Louisville and Syracuse to complete the regular season. I wish James all the best for a speedy recovery.

• Welcome to the three newest members of the NCAA men's basketball selection committee. Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman, Big Sky Conference commissioner Doug Fullerton and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe will join the 10-member committee September 1st and will have a say in the field of 65 for the 2009-10 season. The trio will replace SEC commissioner and current committee chairman Mike Slive; George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor, who chaired the committee last year; and Chris Hill, Utah's athletic director.

• Sometimes coaches make decisions that fans don't understand. My friends, they certainly have their reasons and day-to-day actions by players can influence tough calls. At Arkansas-Little Rock, coach Steve Shields kicked top scorer Steven Moore off the team for undisclosed reasons. The Trojans had already locked up the Sun Belt Western Division when Shields finalized his decision to get rid of Moore, who averaged just under 14 ppg. At Michigan, coach John Beilein benched star Manny Harris for overtime in a loss to Iowa. There will be those who question that call, but Beilein is with his players every day and made a decision. He did what he felt was best for his team during a tough situation.

• I have been very impressed with the coaching ability of Oklahoma's Jeff Capel. Yes, the Sooners hit a couple of bumps in the road recently with Blake Griffin's concussion, but Mr. Capel is a rising star in the coaching profession. He comes from a basketball family  his dad, Jeff, was coach at Old Dominion and now works for the Bobcats in the NBA. His brother, Jason, played at North Carolina. Jeff Capel has an outstanding basketball IQ, as shown when he played for four years at Duke, then as a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth and now running the show with the Sooners.

• Gary Williams has done a good job year in and year out at Maryland. Earlier this season there were those questioning him. The Terps are on the verge of winning at least 19 games for the 13th straight season. Trust me, there are a lot of programs across America that would love to have that kind of success for 13 years in a row.

• emember this name come tournament time: Marcus Thornton. The 6-4 senior guard scored 32 points against Florida, marking his fifth 30+ point performance of the season. In his last four games, all SEC wins, Thornton has averaged 26.8 ppg. The Tigers are sitting at 24-4, 12-1 in the SEC West, a division already clinched. It has been a super first season for coach Trent Johnson and one key reason is the play of the underrated Thornton.

• Very quietly, Florida State guard Toney Douglas went over the 2,000-point mark for his career during the Seminoles' loss at Boston College. I wonder if people forgot that Douglas began his collegiate career at Auburn? To reach 2,000 points is an outstanding accomplishment in college basketball.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.