Burlison, elected to the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, is Scout.com's National Basketball Expert and also covers basketball for the Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram.
Below is Part 1 of that chat…
WeAreDePaul.com: Hey, Frank...welcome.
Frank_Burlison: Hi there!
W: Thanks for taking some time to chat with us tonight
Frank_Burlison: No problem; anytime!
W: First question: In your time covering college hoops, do you think the NCAA has been a benefit or hindrance to the college athlete, specifically as it relates to basketball?
Frank_Burlison: Well that's a difficult question to answer in a few words but I believe, more so a help than hindrance. Very organized. Great opportunity to compete on a grand platform in terms of all of the exposure plus scholarships to provide athlete great opportunities, beyond the sports they play. But, of course, the NCAA like most institutions could stand some revising/re-working.
W: As you know, we're very Big East focused now. Do you think the current configuration of the Big East will last five years or more? Why or why not?
Frank_Burlison: Ultimately, I wonder about present form. It is SO BIG and SO LOADED with quality programs that there are going to be very good teams left out of the NCAA tourney strictly because they have, say 5-11 or 4-12 conference records, for example. I would see some programs purposely downgrading non-conference schedules just because they will need to stock up on wins to get into at-large possibility.
W: How many teams do you think the Big East will get in the NCAA Tournament in an "average" year in current configuration?
Frank_Burlison: minimum eight..possibly 10
W: Do you believe the Big East is the best basketball conference in the country now, or does that designation lie somewhere else?
Frank_Burlison: This season, I believe it WILL BE THE BEST. The ACC is close ... but I think there is a big gap between Duke and the rest of ACC but, as good as Villanova and Connecticut (with M. WiIliams) could be the gap between them and another 7-8 teams in the conference won't be that great.
W: Which teams in the Big East do you see as poised for big up and down moves this year?
Frank_Burlison: Cincinnati, Louisville, etc. all could be VERY GOOD. DePaul could surprise. Jerry Wainwright is a VERY GOOD COACH. Seton Hall could struggle again as could Rutgers. Syracuse could be WAY DOWN.
W: What weaknesses do you see with Rutgers and do you have any thoughts on their incoming freshmen?
Frank_Burlison: For Rutgers, I like Bailey, the kid originally from Chicago. He is a sophomore, I believe. Tough player but a bit undersized; like about 6-6, right? Douby, the big two guard, is also pretty good.
W: Not just sucking up to the website with your DePaul response, because that would be music to the fan base's ears. :) Is your opinion based on Wainwright? Current talent? A combination?
Frank_Burlison: Wainwright is a very good coach. He's had a great rep, even as an assistant (at Wake Forest, etc) for 20-plus years. Really gained a ton of respect for him a few years ago.
W: How so?
Frank_Burlison: When his UNC-Wilmington team knocked off USC in the regionals and almost beat IU (which was to get into final) in the second round. His guys: 1, always; play hard; 2, are always sound; 3, are always unselfish; 4, always guard,
W: What are your thoughts on the situation at Seton Hall?
Frank_Burlison: I think Orr has to win this season. There was some speculation he was going to lose his job in late June/early July. The AD leaving, I hear, may have bought him another year.
W: There are some concerns about Wainwright's recruiting, especially now that he's going up against the "big boys" in the Big East. Legit concerns, or is he going to do okay?
Frank_Burlison: He will be fine. He and (assistant coach) Gary Decesare have such great contacts up and down the east coast. The key will be, as I'm sure everyone would agree, is how much of an impact he and his staff can make within the state (Ill.) and especially immediate-Chicago area.
W: Who do you see as some of the impact freshmen nationwide this year?
Frank_Burlison: The ACC guys will have a lot of impact. Josh McRoberts is the best FRESHMAN by far. But his stats won't be as good as Hansbrough at UNC. Because UNC will need him to shoot a lot, etc. Ben Allen, an Aussie at Indiana, is a sleeper.
W: What do you make of the whole Cincinnati / Bob Huggins situation?
Frank_Burlison: It certainly looks as if, barring a change of presidents, these will be Huggins' last two years at the school.
W: Is Derrick Character a lock for Louisville and do you have any thoughts on him as a player?
Frank_Burlison: He's a lock; heard that in the spring. A lot of talent. Not a great athlete but good skills. Has to play hard all the time and he doesn't do that now. He's top 25 in the country.
W: We officially have East Coast bias here in the Midwest now, Frank. :) Who looks strong west of the Mississippi?
Frank_Burlison: LOL ... as you may know, I live in SoCal. But sometimes I'm as anti-west as anyone. Gonzaga has best talent in the West but has to get past second round this year or the "underachieving" tag will come out. Arizona / Stanford are solid.
W: What's the outlook for UCLA?
Frank_Burlison: UCLA good perimeter guys, including freshmen. How good Bruins are depends on contributions of the post players, who are kind of mediocre.
W: What should DePaul do with their last two scholarships? The players that are high on their list (Walker, Bawinkel, Butler and Randle) don't really fit the needs of a team that has plenty of young depth at the wing position.
Frank_Burlison: Walker is the guy in that bunch I saw a lot this summer. Very "true" PG, not great athlete, makes good decision.
W: Here in Chicago we have Jeremy Pargo headed out to Gonzaga, and I think he
will be a good one.
Frank_Burlison: Yeah; that signing surprised me last fall. He will have to adjust to play there, though. Guards don't get too much "freedom" there, although Raivio plays very FAST.
W: On the topic of Gonzaga, you said that second round would be "underachieving". What are the expectations in the Pacific Northwest for this season?
Frank_Burlison: I think coaches in the WCC think this is Gonzaga's most talented team. They had a redshirt, 6-10 Josh Heytvelt, who has more talent than Turiaf and Morrison is a great offensive player. How well they guard will determine if they get to the Final Four.
W: How about St. Mary's? Were they a one year flash in the pan last year, or can they sustain this year?
Frank_Burlison: Very good player in Daniel Kickert (6-10 shooter) he will be a pro; Randy Bennett a very good coach; won't be at St. Mary's too much longer. Could get Arizona State if that opens, like many think it will.
W: What do you think of Derrick Rose?
Frank_Burlison: I saw him at Nike Camp; very impressive! A much more complete player than is Sherron Collins. He's more of a "true" PG than is Bayless, of
W: What do you think will happen to the guards at UConn?
Frank_Burlison: I think it sounds as if they will get some form of probation, although Prices' situation could be different since he was charged with lying to cops, too. Then it will come down to that student affairs committee. Do they expel them for a year? Wouldn't shock me. The cynical among us probably see M. Williams playing by January or something.
W: Coming back to home base here, Frank. What would you project DePaul's record and post-season outlook to be this year...with lots of variables still in play at this point, obviously?
Frank_Burlison: hmmmm .... 1, how have players (the younger ones,
Thompson, etc.) improved in a year?
2, How will they adjust to Wainright's style?
3, How will they adjust to tougher conference?
Too early to project record; will have a better feel once I see them play in November
W: What do you think about Wainwright's style? Is it apropos for the Big East?
Frank_Burlison: Yes. His teams play FAST but disciplined on offense. They will push tempo but not take bad shots and they will press people full court but also play sound half-court defense.
To Be Continued…
Frank Burlison Chat Wrap - Part 1
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