Posted on: March 3, 2009 2:57 pm

Dear Gary (on A.J. Abrams' eyelashes)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Who has prettier eyes: Stanley Robinson at Connecticut or A.J. Abrams at Texas? Seriously, what's up with their eyelashes?

-- Phil

I'm glad to know I'm not the only heterosexual man -- I'm assuming you're heterosexual too, Phil, but if not, that's cool -- who has looked at A.J. Abrams' eyes and thought, "Damn, those are some pretty freaking eyes." His eyelashes are off the charts, and this is coming from somebody who can appreciate nice eyelashes, because, at the risk of bragging, I must admit that my eyelashes are spectacular. You can't really tell from my picture, but ask around. My eyelashes must be in the upper 95 percentile of adult males, and yet I feel embarrassed anytime I'm around Abrams, because he's got like the best eyelashes I've ever seen.

So to answer your initial question, it's A.J. Abrams with the prettiest eyes, and it's not close.

Best eyelashes in college basketball.

And an OK jumper, too.


Posted on: January 26, 2009 3:09 pm

Dear Gary (on ranking Texas ahead of MSU)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How can you rank Texas ahead of Michigan State? Texas has four losses and Michigan State has three. Plus, Michigan State BEAT Texas! You should be Poll Attacked!

-- Ben

I addressed this issue on one of the message boards, but I'll do it here, too, just to make sure everybody sees it. Because, honestly, I think any criticism about me having Texas ranked ahead of Michigan State in the Top 25 (and one) is fair, which is another way of saying that I believe I probably got it wrong.

To be clear, I like Texas.

The Longhorns have wins over Wisconsin, Villanova, UCLA and Texas A&M, and their four losses are all reasonable (except, perhaps, the one that came at Arkansas). Problem is, one of the losses was to Michigan State, and that should always be a tiebreaker when comparing comparable teams, the head-to-head match-up. And Michigan State won the head-to-head match-up. But the other problem with ranking Texas ahead of Michigan State is that Michigan State actually has the better body of work, particularly when you consider that the Spartans have a nation-high eight victories against schools ranked in the Top 50 at CollegeRPI.com.

Bottom line, I have no problem admitting when I mess-up.

And I think I might've messed this up.

But the good news is that when I mess-up it's the difference between No. 8 and No. 9, and not something crazy like what we see weekly in the AP and Coaches polls. And for that, I invite you to tune in a little later on today, when the Poll Attacks put real ignorance on display.

Meantime, here's how I wish I'd done the Top 10 (in hindsight):

1. Duke

2. Connecticut

3. Pittsburgh

4. Oklahoma

5. Wake Forest

6. North Carolina

7. Louisville

8. Michigan State

9. Texas

10. Marquette  

Posted on: December 10, 2008 6:51 pm

I hate the Charlotte Airport

CHARLOTTE -- You might remember last March when I was at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, had my flight canceled and ended up having to drive to Durham for the regular season finale between North Carolina and Duke. I was so pissed, because the delay wasn't even weather-related, and I swore to myself I'd stop connecting in Charlotte, and I haven't been back since.

Until now.

And you'll never guess what happened.

Yep, my freaking flight home (from the Jimmy V Classic in New York, through Charlotte) has been canceled, so I'm sitting at the same Fox Sports Bar here in the E Terminal as last time, wondering what it is that makes US Airways the most unreliable airline in the world, at least according to me. I mean, does this happen to anybody else? Or is it just foolish sportswriters?

(By the way, if you want to read about last March's debacle, click this link. I think you'll be able to tell how mad I was.)

Anyway, let's move on (even if I'm stuck).

I got so caught up in the Stephen Curry Show Tuesday night that I forgot to tell you about my favorite part of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader, which consisted of a drunk Knicks fan on the front row near the Texas bench basically begging UT junior Dexter Pittman to enter the 2009 NBA Draft so that the Knicks can draft him. It was hilarious for two reasons: First, because Pittman (who is 6-foot-10, 295 pounds) only plays 10 minutes a game for Texas. Secondly, the guy never stopped yelling.

"Come on Big Dex!" he would yell. "We NEED you, man! Three hundred pounds in the middle! Jerome James ain't gettin' it done!"

Pittman and his teammates on the bench would smile each time.

Then the guy would start again.

"You can bring Clint Chapman with you, Dex!" he yelled. "Just enter the draft! We need you! The Knicks NEED you!"

Good times.

And with that, I'll get back to sitting here and being mad. And I hope no SEC football coach is trying to get a new contract tonight, because stuck here in the same airport with me is super-agent Jimmy Sexton, who said, rather brilliantly, "I knew I should've gone through Atlanta."

Posted on: October 27, 2008 11:11 am

Dear Gary (on what makes a "top 10" program)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I see you called Arizona one of the "top 10 programs in America" last week. I'm fairly sure you also stated as much about Indiana when that job was open. So what are the top 10 programs?

-- Brian

What I mean when I describe something as a "top 10 program" is that it should be one of the top 10 programs in America when everything is going the right way. Obviously, that's not the case at Arizona right now. But assuming Jim Livengood makes a great hire I believe Arizona will again establish itself as one of the top 10 programs in America.

Does that make sense?

If not, try to think of it like this: Pretend you are the nation's hottest coaching candidate and attached to no particular school or region. Now pretend every school wants to hire you and then try to determine which 10 jobs would give you the best chance to succeed based upon factors like the level of national prestige, the recruiting advantages (geographic or otherwise), the passion of the fanbase and the commitment from the administration.

That's how you determine a great program.

In that case, my list would probably look like this:

1. North Carolina
3. Duke
4. Kansas
5. Ohio State
6. Texas
7. Kentucky
8. Arizona
9. Indiana
10. Connecticut

Posted on: October 9, 2008 6:59 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2008 7:04 pm

Kelly to Duke; Hamilton to Texas

Two elite prospects came off the board Thursday when Ryan Kelly and Jordan Hamilton announced their destinations.

Kelly is a 6-10 power forward from North Carolina ranked 11th in the Class of 2009. He picked Duke. Hamilton is a 6-7 small forward from California ranked 13th in the Class of 2009. He picked Texas. That means the Blue Devils and Longhorns now both have commitments from multiple top 20 prospects.

Here's an updated look at Scout.com's top 20 from the Class of 2009 ...

(Note: North Carolina, Duke and Texas are the only programs with multiple Top 20 prospects.)

1. Derrick Favors (uncommitted)

2. John Wall (uncommitted)

3. John Henson (committed to North Carolina)

4. Xavier Henry (uncommitted)

5. Renardo Sidney (uncommitted)

6. DeMarcus Cousins (committed to UAB)

7. Lance Stephenson (uncommitted)

8. Kenny Boynton (uncommitted)

9. Abdul Gaddy (committed to Arizona)

10. Avery Bradley (committed to Texas)

11. Ryan Kelly (committed to Duke)

12. Daniel Orton (uncommitted)

13. Jordan Hamilton (committed to Texas)

14. Alex Oriakhi (committed to Connecticut)

15. Dominic Cheek (uncommitted)

16. Wally Judge (committed to Kansas State)

17. Dante Taylor (committed to Pittsburgh)

18. Dexter Strickland (committed to North Carolina)

19. Mason Plumlee (committed to Duke)

20. Thomas Robinson (uncommitted)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 9, 2008 2:34 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2008 11:33 am

An explanation (for those who can't read)

I was going to try to get through the day without posting this blog.

But I knew I'd never make it.

Unfortunately, some of my readers -- not you reading this; just the stupid ones -- lack reading comprehension skills, which causes me to often times explain things over and over again as if I'm talking to my 5-year-old son. It's frustrating. But it comes with the territory. So let me use this space to further explain my column about "NBA talent" on college teams and address some emails I've received this morning.


Here we go!

Question: My favorite team (insert name here) has a great player named (insert name here) who is probably a lottery pick. How could you not count him as being drafted this year or next year?

Answer: As I clearly stated, whether prospects are considered "NBA talents" is not something I decided for the purposes of this column. I turned that over to DraftExpress.com. In other words, this was a simple process for me. If DraftExpress.com had a player listed as going in the first round or second round of the 2009 or 2010 NBA Draft, I listed him accordingly. If not, I didn't. So any questions about the status of prospects should be directed to DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony, not me.

(Sorry Jonathan!)

Also, I explained in the column that this is not an exact science or an absolute predictor of which teams will and will not be great. One reason is because many players considered "NBA talents" in October won't be considered "NBA talents" in March, and vice versa. Another reason is because though I believe with every ounce of my brain that "NBA talents" are necessary to win the national title (just look at the recent history of national champions), I do not believe they are required to make an Elite Eight or even Final Four. For example, I think Notre Dame is going to be great this season, but (according to DraftExpress.com) there isn't a future first-round pick on the team. So while history suggests this suggests the Irish won't be our national champions, it doesn't mean they can't win the Big East and much more.

Question: My favorite team (insert name here) has committed (insert name here). He's ranked 10th in the Class of 2009 and will surely be a first-round pick. Why are you not counting him?

Answer: What on earth does a Class of 2009 prospect have to do with this season?

Regardless of where John Wall signs, he won't have anything to do with what happens on the court in the 2008-09 season because he won't play college basketball until the 2009-2010 season. Same goes for Abdul Gaddy. And Renardo Sidney. And Derrick Favors. And you get the idea, don't you?

Bottom line, only players on the current roster matter.

People who may or may not come in the future have nothing to do with this column.

Question: Why did you only list teams with at least eight points?

Answer: Because there were nine teams with at least eight points, and that took me to 1,500 words. That was plenty. But I did use the same exercise to go further down the list. In all, there were 16 teams with at least six points. So if you want to look at the rest of the list, well, here you go ...

-- Pittsburgh --

  • Number of projected draft picks:  2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Sam Young (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: DeJuan Blair (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Oklahoma --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Blake Griffin (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Willie Warren (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Tennessee --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 7
  • 2009 first round: Tyler Smith (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Scotty Hopson (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Arizona State --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: James Harden (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: Jeff Pendergraph (2 points)
  • 2009 second round: NA
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Georgetown --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 3
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: NA
  • 2010 first round:  Greg Monroe (3 points)
  • 2009 second round: DaJuan Summers (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: Austin Freeman (1 point)

-- Memphis --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: Tyreke Evans (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: NA
  • 2009 second round: Robert Dozier (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: NA

-- Texas --

  • Number of projected draft picks: 2
  • Number of points: 6
  • 2009 first round: Damion James (4 points)
  • 2010 first round: NA
  • 2009 second round: Connor Atchley (2 points)
  • 2010 second round: NA
Posted on: October 7, 2008 1:52 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2008 1:54 pm

Big 12 coaches pick OU to edge Texas in hoops

The Big 12, on Tuesday, released its official preseason basketball poll, which I thought was interesting because it basically echoed what I wrote earlier Tuesday while addressing an email about Missouri's NCAA tournament hopes. I was glad to see I wasn't crazy with my assessment, that the Big 12 coaches have the same first four teams that I have (just in a slightly different order). Furthermore, the next three (which are clearly behind the first four, like I predicted) are also the same. So without further ado, let's look at the official Big 12 poll:

Team                     (First-place votes)          Points

1. Oklahoma                 (3)                              109

2. Texas                         (4)                              107

3. Baylor                         (2)                              103

3. Kansas                      (3)                              103

5. Texas A&M                                                    79

6. Oklahoma State                                           69

7. Missouri                                                         51

8. Kansas State                                                50

9.  Nebraska                                                     49

10. Texas Tech                                                 39

11. Iowa State                                                   20

12. Colorado                                                     13

In short, I have no real issues with this poll.

One difference is that I like Texas to win the Big 12 based on the Longhorns returning four starters from a 31-win team. However, it could be argued that no major conference school (except Kansas State) will miss a single player as much as Texas will miss D.J. Augustin. And if you subscribe to that theory and the likelihood that Oklahoma will have the best returning player (Blake Griffin) and best newcomer (Willie Warren) in the league, then I have no problem with you putting the Sooners ahead of the Longhorns.

To be clear, I like OU too.

After that, I think Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Missouri will (like the poll suggests) compete for fifth in the Big 12, which is what I wrote earlier. And that was the basis of me stating that the Tigers have a "decent chance" to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. That they're picked seventh, however, indicates they'll have to overachieve a bit. But remember, Mike Anderson made a habit of overachieving at UAB. So again, let's put Missouri on the bubble and see how things unfold.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 25, 2008 1:19 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2008 1:21 pm

Dear Gary (on Duke)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I appreciate you showing UNLV some respect in the preseason Top 25 (and one). We have one of the best coaches in the nation in Lon Kruger and a great roster coming in. But I just have one question: Why is Duke rated so high? I have a feeling Duke is to basketball as Notre Dame is to football ... overrated.

-- Marc

Duke basketball is Notre Dame football?


You should know that the Blue Devils have won at least 26 games in 10 of the past 11 seasons and never won less than 22 in that span. So while they have missed the Sweet 16 the past two years -- after making it in nine straight -- the idea that Duke is "overrated" is just silly. I mean, Duke finished 28-6 last season and played North Carolina on the final day of the regular season with the ACC title on the line. That's undeniably strong. And four starters from that squad have returned, meaning the core of a team that went 13-3 in the ACC last season is back (and joined by McDonald's All-American Elliot Williams).

Is this Duke team flawed?

Of course.

The Blue Devils could certainly use Shelden Williams in the middle, and not having a prominent big man could be their downfall. But either way, this is a 28-win team from a major conference with four returning starters. So that leads me to believe Duke is about where it belongs, and I'll be surprised if Coach K doesn't approach another 30-win season fresh off his gold medal-earning summer.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com