Fredette Mania is sweeping the nation. Is it here to stay, or just a passing (or should that read shooting) fancy? Somehow I think Jimmer Fredette is here for the long run. But right now it's time to answer your questions:
Q: Ken, you said Kemba Walker's got your vote so far for player of the year. Jimmer Fredette's right there, too. Does this mean college basketball is a guard's game once again after big men like Hansbrough and Griffin dominated recently? And would you rate Villanova as having the best backcourt?
- Brian, Philadelphia
A: For the record, I didn't endorse any one player in my column. I said Walker emerged as the early favorite with his play in Maui. I think it is too early to cast a formal vote. Fredette has been being building his case and he will get a lot more support after his performance against San Diego State. If I had to vote today, I'd vote for Walker. He's the better defensive player, in my opinion. And Walker's leadership and overall worth to the Huskies cannot be overlooked. He has responded to a lot of pressure.
Guards are ruling the game again this year. There's no doubt about it. These things kind of run in cycles. There are some good big men, like Jared Sullinger at Ohio State, Marcus Morris at Kansas, JaJuan Johnson at Purdue and Kenneth Faried at Morehead State. But I don't think it's any surprise that guards are dominating. Blue Ribbon Yearbook's preseason All-America first-team included Fredette, Kansas State's Jacob Pullen, Baylor's Lacedarius Dunn, Duke's Kyle Singler and Morris. The big men will get their turn in the spotlight again. But I happen to think a championship team always needs a great point guard.
My favorite backcourt this season plays in Pittsburgh. Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker are outstanding together. I think they are going to lead Jamie Dixon's team on a long ride through the NCAA tournament.
Q: How do you rate Virginia Tech after the walloping of Maryland last Thursday?
- Jim, Clemmons
A: Well, that 74-57 win at Maryland was impressive. I think everyone wondered if it might light a fire under the Hokies for the remainder of the season, but it didn't. Tech went out and lost at Georgia Tech 72-57 earlier this week. That's a real bad loss, one that really might haunt Virginia Tech on Selection Sunday.
Seth Greenberg's team has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season. The Hokies have had injuries and there was that brutal non-conference schedule, but there is still time to salvage the season. There isn't one game left on the schedule that Tech couldn't win - and that includes a Feb. 26 home game against Duke. Iman Shumpert owned Malcolm Delaney in that Georgia Tech game. Delaney is a prideful player. Perhaps he will use that game as motivation for an outstanding finish.
Q: Ken, what's your take on Coach Pelphrey and Arkansas? This is his fourth year, and the Hogs are still struggling to keep their heads above water. Do you see him being around to coach his highly regarded recruiting class next season?
- Chris, Jonesboro, Ark.
A: Arkansas takes a 13-6 overall record and a 3-3 SEC mark into Saturday's game at Vanderbilt. Honestly, Chris, I didn't have much higher hopes for the Hogs heading into the season. The SEC West is crazy - and really not so good. The Hogs could catch fire and make a run. And look at it this way, I think OT losses against Texas A&M and South Carolina show that John Pelphrey has this program close to the next level.
Q: Purdue's Robbie Hummel is going to be red-shirted as a senior next fall, but TV commentators said that it would not be a medical redshirt. What is the difference?
- Donald E. King, Issaquah, Wash.
A: Hummel looked really upset the other night as Ohio State crushed Purdue. You could tell he wanted to be out on the floor helping his teammates. The good news is that Hummel is ahead of schedule as he rehabs from surgery to repair a second torn ACL in his right knee. The injury happened in Purdue's second practice of the season. The only good thing about it all is that Hummel could redshirt and still have a full year of eligibility next season.
I'm not sure what the announcers said, but they confused you. This season is the redshirt season. A redshirt season can be taken for a multitude of reasons. It might be academics, it might be the need to mature physically or, in this case, to rehab after an injury.
The NCAA actually doesn't use the term medical redshirt. A player who is injured during the season can apply for a "medical hardship waiver." Here's an interesting article from a few years ago that might help you understand.
Hope that helps.