I’m generally no fan of Jay Bilas on ESPN. Seems a little pompous and a little too beholden to the power conferences. I’m an underdog-kind-of-guy when it comes to college basketball.
But Bilas had a fabulous night as an analyst on the OSU-Kansas game Saturday night. One of the best broadcast games I can ever remember.
I like analysts who are whimsical and not always wrapped up in the game. Al McGuire in yesteryear, Jeff Van Gundy today. But maybe that’s because we get so little real analysis these days. When we actually get it, it’s fantastic.
And Bilas was superb Saturday night. He told it straight.
Bilas ripped Marcus Smart’s shot selection during some stretches. Which was true. Smart was great down the stretch but was sporadic in his decision-making earlier. Smart took a variety of quick shots from deep, without giving the Cowboy offense time to find some rhythm. At one point, Bilas even advocated taking out Smart for a quick cooldown.
Bilas also took Smart to task for his flopping. Two more theatrical flops from Smart vs. Kansas. Bilas is right. This is getting out of hand.
Bilas consistently pointed out that the OSU and Kansas offenses were playing into the hands of the defense. OSU seemed reluctant to move the ball most of the first half. Kansas would go long stretches without getting the ball inside.
This was a big-time game matching big-time talent, but Bilas pointed out that neither the Jayhawks nor Cowboys were playing anywhere near to their standard.
From a positive standpoint, Bilas pointed out how much Le’Bryan Nash was supplying the Cowboys with offense. Which did what good analysis should do. Helped me jump to my analysis. It was a remarkable game in that the most consistent, most structured play was coming from a guy who has been a model of chaos much of his career. Nash is turning into a ballplayer right before our very eyes, and he’s maturing in ways more than just bigger and better numbers.
Bilas told it straight without worrying about coaches’ feelings. You don’t get that too much anymore. But it certainly was enjoyable.