ESPN College Basketball Analyst and former duke basketball player and assistant coach, Jay Bilas, shared his thoughts and opinions on the Hokies, ACC, and how to lure College GameDay to Blacksburg.
Bilas is one of the hosts of ESPN’s College GameDay, and does color commentating for ESPN, ABC, and CBS during the NCAA Tournament.
Jay answered the questions below on Thursday, August 30, 2007.
TechHoops: How do you see Virginia Tech finishing in the ACC this year?
Jay: I think Virginia Tech will probably finish in the bottom third of the league, primarily because of the experience lost, especially at the guard spots. This will be a very young team, and that will really hurt in ACC play, especially on the road. I believe that Virginia Tech will have to overcome the same difficulties that florida state had to deal with when they came into the league. Both brought in strong teams, but really had to adjust to recruiting against other ACC powers. It is a difficult adjustment, and it takes some time.
TechHoops: What is your opinion of ACC expansion? Which of the 3 new programs will be the most successful 10 years from now?
Jay: I was not in favor of it for basketball, but that was not the reasoning behind the decision. Expansion was about football, plain and simple, but it has worked out just fine, and each new school has been a good addition. Long term, I think boston college probably has the best chance to be highly competitive in the league. bc has been very solid in the past in the Big East, has the best history, and perhaps can make some headway being the only ACC show in the Northeast.
TechHoops: From what you’ve seen of Deron Washington, do you see him making it into the NBA? Would you predict him to make all-ACC?
Jay: Deron has proven himself to be a very good player, and he has the ability to find a place in the NBA. He is a very athletic slasher that can get up and down the floor and make momentum plays. He isn’t a shooter, but he really competes. I think he can be an All-ACC selection, but he would have a difficult time cracking the first or second team if the Hokies are not an upper division finisher.
TechHoops: Which VT recruit do you think will make the biggest impact this year?
Jay: Malcom Delaney is the highest rated, but I think that Jeff Allen may be the most prepared to step in and compete. He is older, and physically prepared. The only thing that I would caution is that the ACC is a league that punishes youth, even though the league is much younger now than it used to be. Kids mature at different rates, so how quickly a kid gets it is often a poor indicator of how good the kid can be down the line. Seth has some good players coming in, but being so young, they may get beat up a bit. It happens to most young players in the league.
TechHoops: Do you think the Hokies can get to where they are a consistent contender in the ACC? What are the keys to getting there?
Jay: It depends what you mean by consistent contender. If you mean that the Hokies should contend for the ACC title annually, then I think the answer is probably no, because the established ACC basketball powers will be difficult to unseat. But, if you mean that the Hokies should contend for an upper division finish and an NCAA berth, with a special season every so often, then sure, it is possible. However, it will be a long road to get there. If the Virginia Tech program was not contending annually in the Metro, the Atlantic 10 or the Big East, what makes everyone think that the ACC will be any different? Building a contender requires long term commitment from the staff and the school’s administration. That commitment has been made in football, and needs to be made and nurtured in basketball. That’s not just true at Virginia Tech, it is true everywhere.
TechHoops: Do you believe VT’s reputation as a football school hurts them in recruiting?
Jay: I am not sure about that. It seems that very few places have great
football and great basketball, but some have for periods of time. I think the key is commitment. You have to find the right coaches, compensate them well, and build with a long term vision. It starts in the office of the President, not in the coaches’ offices, in my judgment.
TechHoops: What do you think Coach Greenberg’s best assets are as a coach?
Jay: Seth is really energetic, smart and he is a really good communicator. He gets his players to trust him, and he allows them to play with controlled freedom. Seth has done a really good job at Virginia Tech.
TechHoops: How does the Cassell Coliseum compare to other environments in the ACC? Is it one of the toughest to play in?
Jay: I love Cassell. I used to do games there when the Hokies were in the Atlantic 10, when Ace Custis was there, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. It is a fun place to play, and the crowd is great. I think it is even better with ACC rivals in the building now. Once it starts to get a reputation, and the Hokies get settled in the league, it will get better and better.
TechHoops: How does it feel to be the “Kirk Herbstreit” of ESPN college basketball?
Jay: Actually, Kirk is the “Jay Bilas” of ESPN College Football, and he should be quite flattered by that compliment. Herbie, Fowler and Corso are the gold standard in the business, and we are very fortunate to piggy back off of them for College GameDay in basketball. They set the standard, and we are trying to meet that standard every week on the road for hoops. If only Digger would lose the tie and matching highlighter routine, we might have a chance.
TechHoops: Is there a plan to poke some fun at Hubert Davis in a GameDay commercial this year after this one last year?
Jay: I certainly hope so. I couldn’t eat in a restaurant last season without people bumping into me on purpose! Hubert couldn’t be a better guy, and we all have fun with the duke/carolina thing, but the rivalry never affects the way we interact. As for the ads, we haven’t seen anything on them for this year. The folks that do that are really talented, and always come up with some great ideas. We laugh our tails off doing it.
TechHoops: Which do you enjoy more – in studio work or color commentating?
Jay: I enjoy both, but doing the games is the whole reason I got into this business. I played, and spent a few years as an assistant coach, and when I got out of coaching, this just fell into my lap when I was practicing law. There is nothing that duplicates being court side during a game, and as much fun as the studio can be, games are far more compelling.
TechHoops: What will it take to have College GameDay visit Blacksburg for basketball?
Jay: You could quit calling me Herbstreit, for one. Plus, we are always open to a good “food bribe”. I would like to see a Sonic open up nearby to Cassell. I don’t like having to go all the way to Christiansburg for a burger and cherry limeade.
TechHoops.com thanks Jay for his time and analysis. We hope to have him back after the season to see if his predictions are accurate (Bottom Third, let’s hope not).
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Jay Bilas is one of ESPN and ABCâ€™s top basketball analysts and is widely recognized for his thorough knowledge of the game and his professional, clever style. Bilas provides expert color commentary form courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPNâ€™s popular studio show College Gamenight, where he skillfully breaks down games and players, including his use of the popular â€œBilastratorâ€ to diagram plays. He also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes numerous reports for ESPN SportsCenter. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPNâ€™s coverage of the NBA Draft. Sports Illustrated has named Bilas the best analyst in college basketball, as has the ACC Sports Journal, among others.
A high school All-American from California, the 6-7 Bilas was a four-year starter under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke from 1982-1986. As an undersized center, Bilas scored 1,062 points, grabbed 692 rebounds, and helped lead Duke to the 1986 ACC Championship and the NCAA Championship Game. Bilasâ€™ 1986 Duke team shares the NCAA record for the most wins in a single season with 37.
As an undergraduate at Duke, Bilas was one of only two student-athletes in the nation appointed to the NCAAâ€™s Long-Range Planning Committee (1984-86). He appeared on CBSâ€™s Face the Nation in 1985 to discuss academics and athletics and was a panelist, along with Howard Cosell, John Underwood, and Dr. Harry Edwards, on the prestigious National Sports Forum in 1986. During his collegiate summers, Bilas worked as a production assistant for ABC Sports which included stints at the 1983 PGA Championship, Monday Night Baseball, and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Bilas graduated from Duke in 1986 and was drafted by the NBAâ€™s Dallas Mavericks. He played professionally overseas, ranking among the leaguesâ€™ top scorers in Italy and Spain over three seasons before returning to Duke in 1990 to serve as an assistant coach on Krzyzewskiâ€™s staff, while also earning his law degree from Duke Law School. While Bilas was an assistant coach under Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Final Four three times, winning the National Championship in 1991 and 1992.
A member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1988, Bilas has appeared in nationally run television commercials and had a feature role as an alien cop in the Columbia Pictures film I Come In Peace. While still in high school, Bilas appeared in an episode of the popular television series The White Shadow.
Bilas is a skillful and popular speaker and moderator, whose knowledge extends across both the sports and legal worlds. Bilas has spoken at such places as Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, SMUâ€™s Maguire Center for Ethics, the University of North Carolinaâ€™s Summit on Ethics, Duke Law School, the Fuqua School of Business-Coach K Conference on Leadership, Marquette University, Wake Forest University, Xavier University and the University of Tennessee. Bilas has also served as the emcee of several Coaches vs. Cancer Benefits, including those at the University of Connecticut and Gonzaga University, and for the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors. In addition, Bilas has deftly served as the clever host of two Celebrity Roasts, where he cut up the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Cremins, Gary Williams, and Charles Barkley.
Since 1992, Bilas has been an attorney with the law firm of Moore & Van Allen, PLLC, where he has specialized in commercial litigation. A native of the Los Angeles-area, Bilas now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife, Wendy, and two children, Victoria and Anthony.