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College GameDay EXCLUSIVE: Talking Villanova & Basketball With Jay Bilas

I was approached by Michael Humes from the ESPN Communications Department this week about my interest in interviewing a member of ESPN's College GameDay Crew (which will be visiting Villanova this Saturday if you've been living under a rock).

I was beaten to the punch by Jonathan Tannenwald for the chance to interview (excuse me, hit on her) Erin Andrews, so I "settled" for the esteemed Jay Bilas, who I find to be one of the most well-informed analysts in the game of basketball today. In fact, he along with Bill Raftery and Sean McDonough are THE ABSOLUTE BEST in the game.

I was going to talk to Jay on the phone and podcast the discussion, but I've had the worst week of my life at work and I just couldn't find the time, so I had to settling for emailing him. I think because of that, some of his answers were a little short in nature, and he bounced around some tough ones. If we were on the phone, I think I could have pressed him for a clearer answer.

Below is our exchange, I hope you enjoy!


What is the biggest change in the way the game is played today from when you were at Duke?

Aside from the shorts?  It would be the three-point shot. It has opened up the game, and extended defenses. The next thing would be early entry into the NBA Draft. The players are better than ever, but the teams are not. The game is younger and the teams are suffering.  Actually, the game is suffering.

What are your thoughts on taking a hard stance on misconduct (Villanova and JayVaughn Pinkston) versus taking a softer stance (LaceDarius Dunn and Baylor?)

Nobody knows the kid and the circumstances better than the institution. There cannot be a "one size fits all" standard for discipline. In respect both decisions.  These are kids, and they make mistakes. When asked why he gave a kid a second chance, Jud Heathcote replied, " because he's a human being."

I think you, Raf and Sean McDonough are as good as it gets in sports broadcasting. You work so well together and tell it like it is while not losing your passion for the game at hand. So, is Raf as awesome as he seems on TV?

Raftery is better. Doing games with Sean and Bill is doing games with your best friends. Sean is the best at his job, and Bill is the best there's ever been in his. I'm just lucky to carry their bags. And, they do make me carry their bags.

Who was the player who gave you the most torrid time during your college career?

Ralph Sampson was pretty good, but I was a freshman when he was a senior. The three best players I played against were Jordan, Sampson, and Len Bias. The toughest guy I had to guard consistent was Brad Daugherty.  He was such a great player.

The NCAA Tournament extending more bids feels like the 'everyone deserves a trophy' mentality, which I personally hate. What are your thoughts on which direction the Tournament should move to in the future?

The Tournament is great, but it is getting too big. 64 was enough, but all of Division I is too big. There is no reasonable justification for 350 teams. They are not all playing the same game.

What is your opinion on high schoolers and the NBA? Should they be forced to be a year removed from high school before they can enter the draft?

That's up to the NBA, but I do not like our culture of skipping steps.  No legit player was ever hurt by an education or by being fully prepared.

How much will Pitt miss Ashton Gibbs against Villanova on Saturday?

Pitt will miss him, bit Pitt has a great program, not just a good team. They'll be tough to beat, as always.

Does Villanova have what it takes to get back to the Final 4 this year?

Villanova is very good, and getting better. No team is great this year.  Healthy and playing well, Villanova is good enough to advance to Houston.  But, so are twenty other teams.  Jay Wright is one of the best in this business. With him, you always have a chance.

Thanks Chris! Hope to meet you at Nova!

Jay Bilas

What are your thoughts on all of Jay's answers?