Q-factor with Chris Dortch
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
Five questions with SECSports.com’s Chris Dortch
How does losing Nerlens Noel for the season impact Kentucky?
It’s obviously hard to lose a player who had such a dramatic impact defensively. But sometimes in these situations, when a team loses a star player, it rallies to make up for the loss. In Kentucky’s case, perhaps if some players were unconsciously letting up on defense, secure in the knowledge Noel was back there to clean up their mistakes, they will now be more focused not to let their opponent pass them.
Can the Wildcats reach the NCAA Tournament without him?
The ’Cats were not a lock with Noel, and now they will be hard-pressed to pad their resume without him. But talent-wise, 95 percent of coaches in the country would take a four- and five-man combination of Kyle Wiltjer and Willie Cauley-Stein in a heartbeat. There’s plenty of talent, but not much depth. Every player on the roster will have to dig deep and come up with effort previously unseen. If that happens, the NCAA is still in play.
There's been a lot of low scores and even some punches thrown in SEC games. What can the league do to clean up physical play that crosses the line?
Unfortunately it’s not just a league problem. It’s prevalent throughout college basketball. But the solution isn’t whistling everything and making games last two-and-a-half hours. Strength training has become so advanced that college basketball has almost become football on wood ... in a nutshell, skills have deteriorated as video scouting has become more sophisticated. That plus the physical play has combined to produce some hideous basketball.
Is Florida the best of a down league this season, or are the Gators a Final Four contender?
Both. I refer back to the earlier question. The teams that are at the top of the polls and/or their respective conferences are the ones that have more than one easy option to score. Florida can put three to four 3-point shooters on the floor at any given time. Patric Young has been consistently better as an inside threat, and Erik Murphy is probably the best stretch four man in the game, a true inside-outside player. When games devolve into half-court slugfests, as is often the case in the NCAA Tournament, it helps to have 3-shooters and guys who can score in the post. If you made me pick the Final Four right now, I’d probably take three Big Ten teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State) and Florida.
How many SEC teams do you see making the NCAA Tournament?
Probably four. Florida’s the only lock. Missouri, Kentucky and Ole Miss have work to do but are looking good, even, in the case of Kentucky, considering Noel’s injury. No other team has a resume, at this point, worthy of consideration, and it may well be too late to do anything about it. This may be one of those years the league roots for an upstart team to win the tournament and automatic bid, like Mississippi State did a few years back, just to get another team in the Dance.