ESPN analyst Jay Bilas talks Kansas, Indiana, OG Anunoby and more

  • 11/08/2016 4:23 pm in

ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas was available Monday afternoon to preview the 2016-2017 college basketball season on a conference call with media. Bilas will be a part of ESPN’s coverage of the Armed Forces Classic this Friday featuring Arizona vs. Michigan State and Indiana vs. Kansas. .

Here’s verbatim of what Bilas had to say about Indiana, Kansas, the Big Ten race, OG Anunoby and much more:

On what Bilas will be looking for out of Kansas on Friday:

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything different than we’ve seen since Bill Self has been there. They’re going to win the Big 12 and they’re going to be one of the top teams in the country and have a chance to win the whole thing. It’s a little bit different of a Kansas team than we’re used to because they’re not inside-oriented first or necessarily going to play inside-out. I think they’ll have times where they play a smaller lineup and can go kind of small ball where they spread the floor, take driving opportunities.

“But their guards are really good and experienced. Frank Mason and Devonte Graham are two of the best guards in the country and two point guards that play together really well. And then (Josh) Jackson gives them some incredible versatility. I haven’t seen him in practice yet, but I’m told he’s shooting the ball better than they expected. That was the knock on him coming out of high school that he could do everything but shoot. If he’s making perimeter shots, it makes him that much more of a threat. A lot is going to be determined for Kansas on how their inside guys come along. The primary guy I think who has to play really well is Carlton Bragg. If he can play 25 minutes a game at a high level, you’re looking at another championship contender in my judgement.”

On how much stock Bilas put into early season matchups and also the Indiana-Kansas matchup:

“I think you have to take it with a grain of salt. There are times when the travel can make things really difficult and maybe a team doesn’t perform at it’s optimum level. There are other times when you see a team play unbelievably well early in the season and then they fall off later on. And the flip side of that, too, you see a team that doesn’t perform as well and then they kind of get their act together.

“Indiana is a good example of that. Indiana last year got lost early on in Maui, then got their doors blown off in the ACC-Big Ten and then they won the Big Ten. A lot of people had them dead and buried before we got to December and it clearly wasn’t the case. I think those things happen in every sport.

“I’ve seen Indiana play their exhibition games. I watched a little bit of tape of Kansas. Kansas looked a lot better in their last exhibition than they did in their first. I think Indiana, the thing you have to deal with when you play Indiana is the speed of their offense. They get the ball up and down the court really quickly. They keep the floor spread. They’re a very good cutting and passing team. I don’t think that Indiana can afford to turn it over against Kansas. The thing where Kansas has a major advantage is the experience with their guards. They bring back Devonte Graham and Frank Mason. I’m not sure who has got more experienced guards. Two point guards in the backcourt. Josh Jackson is a star. A tremendous amount of talent will be on the floor in the Kansas-Indiana game and to have those two powerhouse college basketball brands squaring off against each other will be incredible.”

On the growth of hybrid and versatile players like OG Anunoby in college basketball:

“I think it’s just the way the game has gone generally. The NBA is doing it and has done it for some time now where you have players that are more versatile. With the way basketball is being played now with the 3-point line being valued so much and the game really going toward spacing and opening up the middle to where you can get up more 3s, but the other part is, you can get more drives to the basket. More teams are making use of transition to get a quicker shot in transition and also they’re making use of the width of the court. When you have guys who can guard in space, you mentioned OG Anunoby from Indiana, he can guard multiple positions. You can put him on a point guard, you can put him on a four-man. With his ability to cover ground and take away a shot and take away a drive, that’s all great and stuff you talk about with young players in close out drills, but there aren’t many guys who can do that. He can do that. He can guard a point guard and you can put him on four man with his length to cover ground and take away a shot. So you have to have a combination of speed and athleticism and mobility. Having those guys that can do that is incredibly valuable.

“One thing that Anunoby has done is he’s shooting the ball now. I watched him play recently and he has really become a capable shooter to where he can make five 3s in a game. That stretches out a defense and makes it easier to attack. We talk about spacing a lot, and rightfully so, it’s important. But an offense can space out all it wants to, but if they can’t shoot, the defense won’t go with them. The key is, can you stretch the defense, not so much can you space your offense. If you stretch the defense, then you’ve really got some cutting opportunities, driving opportunities. And I think Indiana does as good of a job as anybody with their offense. It’s really a fabulous offense to watch.”

On the Big Ten this season:

“I tend to think that the Big Ten does not have many superstar players. They’ve got a ton of stud freshmen. But it’s not like they’ve got as many superstar returnees as they’ve had in past years.

“The top guys that I can think of off the top of my head, I’d put Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin and Thomas Bryant of Indiana up there on the returnee side. Well, you put Melo Trimble up there, too. I would.

“I think it’s between Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan State for the top spot. Purdue could sneak in there as well. But, those three. I don’t think there is anybody that is the no-brainer top pick. I thought Michigan State was the best team last year. They wound up not winning the league. But I thought they were the best team.

“This year, I think Michigan will be better than they were last year. I think Ohio State will be much better than they were last year. So I think the league will be much improved. I think Illinois will be a lot better being healthy. The league will be much improved, but I’m not sure that there’s a runaway favorite a year ago, and Illinois will be better, but there’s not a runaway favorite in the league that gives you a top-five team. I don’t see any team. Wisconsin would probably will be the best team going in to me.”

On what Indiana needs to do to beat Kansas as well as its strengths and what it needs to improve upon moving forward:

“Indiana’s got good depth and they’ve got some really good players. They’ve recruited really well. They play hard and they play together. Offensively, they’re a joy to watch. It’s got to be a fun way to play. They get the ball up the floor quickly. They don’t have a point guard. There’s not somebody like Yogi Ferrell that you can just give the ball to and that person is going to run everything. Their point guard is going to have to be by committee where they can pass the ball ahead. The ball can’t just stick in one guy’s hands and have him run everything. It looks like they’re doing a good job of that. Along with that comes some issues of turnovers. As simplistic as it sounds, passing and catching is going to be a big deal and making sure they don’t cough the ball up and put their defense in a bad spot.

“I actually thought that …My take on last year’s early season struggles with defense had a lot to do with offense. They were turning the ball over too much. When that stabilized midway through the season, their defense got a lot better. Their defense got better period, but it also got better because they got better with the ball and they weren’t putting their defense in situations where they’d give up easy basketball. they weren’t giving the ball up and giving up easy scores.

“Thomas Bryant, how he plays is going to be a big deal. Two guys have to make big jumps for them. Thomas Bryant is one. He had a really good year last year and is capable of more and the other is OG Anunoby. He was a player that came in and whatever he gave you last year was a real lift, but I think he’s got to do it now when expected to do it and in more minutes. And every game. It’s got to be every game.

“They’re going to have to do a really good job defending the actions that Kansas runs. Kansas can play big or small. Their big guys like to get angles. They do a really good job of throwing the ball into the post with an angle. I think your post defense has to be really good.And then your pressure on the ball has to be really good to take vision away. The other part of that is that Indiana is going to have to do a really good job, when talking about defense, of turning defense into offense and getting down the floor whether its off a miss or a made basket, getting down the floor and getting into transition quickly. That’s what Indiana does, but doing that without turnovers, I think is going to be really important. Kansas is a little bit more experience, especially more experienced at the guard spots, so it’s going to be a real challenge for the first game of the year. Both of these teams are capable of being in Arizona at the end of the year for the Final Four. I think Kansas is probably a little bit ahead right now of Indiana because of their experience level. I think it’s going to be a great game. I’m really excited to see it.”

Filed to:

  • sdpolley

    Bilas has always been one of my favorite commentators, he’s lost me a little over the last year or so with championing for “athletes rights,” but still one of the better basketball minds in the media. Definitely the best in game color commentator in espns lineup. As for the game one aspect that is so intriguing to me about it and I think he was kinda mentioning at the end of the interview, is that this is two teams that could be really good playing each other before we have any idea how good they actually are.

  • Ole Man

    He definitely does one of the best analysis of a game, however. I can overlook the other stuff.

  • Dave Carnes

    Thomas Bryant was the best big man on the floor in every game he played last year.If he improves he will be the best in the country.And what am I missing don’t we have two if not three guys better than Mich St’s best player?

  • Courtney Graber

    I think IU has 4 players capable of being all big ten. It depends on how they play together, but there really is no ceiling on this team.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    I agree with that. Right on! IU 86, Kansas 73!

  • Arch Puddington

    Love Jay Bilas, agree 100% with his cause. The NCAA is an incorrigibly corrupt institution that pays EVERYONE — coaches, trainers, administrators, the people who sell athletic gear and apparel, you name it — except the players. It ignores years of outright academic fraud at UNC, and punishes players who get any financial benefit outside of their scholarships. I would eliminate the whole organization and start over if it were up to me.

    As it turns out, it is NOT up to me, so my ranting is irrelevant.

  • Courtney Graber

    I’ve been waiting for some revenge for Calbert in the ’93 NCAAs.

  • sdpolley

    I’m not totally against athlete compensation. The way he goes about it rubs me the wrong way. As far as NCAA investigation stuff goes bilas seems like he always just takes the side that will paint his buddies in the best light, i.e. Boehiem, Pitino, Williams. His pseudo defense of pitino on Twitter a few weeks back was really troubling to me.

  • Arch Puddington

    Didn’t see the Pitino thing. Based on what you say, it doesn’t sound like something I’d like. There is something tiresome about the fauning some analysts do over coaches (and players). I haven’t seen much of it out of Bilas, but I would count it against him if I did.

  • Larry Brown

    aren’t the players getting free education and exposure to potentially make $millions? Costs $50-100K now to go to most schools.

  • Bill Graham

    We are going to learn a ton about exactly how good OG is when he squares off against Jackson.

  • Fifer39

    Gotta feel a bit sorry for Jackson having to go up against OG in his first real game.

  • Fifer39

    You’re right although I did see an interesting stat the other day that suggested 75% of D1 players and 25% of D3 think they will go pro. The reality is that 1.5% and 0% actually make it.

  • IdahoHoosier

    You can’t strictly use a points and rebounds comparison to determine who outplayed whom. Bryant’s stats were typically lower due to not being on the floor. Granted, one could argue that by getting himself into foul trouble TB allowed himself to be “outplayed” by default since he was on the bench. I agree with you though Arch, overstatement to say TB was always the best big man on the floor.

  • Hoosier Hall

    He was definitely the best big man on the floor when IU played UK in the 2nd round of the tournament…

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    OG is the Terminator!

  • 4 the Leaders

    They get free tuition + room & board. That doesn’t mean their books are paid, that meals are taken care of (since you are given a limit of meals per semester and going beyond that costs 100’s-1,000’s of dollars), nor that they would be allowed to grab food outside of boring monotonous cafeteria food. Don’t take this as a jab towards you, because you’re right in a sense. They get free tuition/room&board/entry meals (which is big) and exposure.

    However, couple that with the fact that many college students (more disproportionately athletes) come from lower- to lower-middle class backgrounds, and they can barely make ends meet. Nor are they able to get a job that will actually hire them based on their strict schedule and the fact that they still have to do all of the college school work.

    To drive that home, institutions make millions guaranteed off of their programs; specifically athletics. To an institution, it isn’t a matter of IF they will make money, but HOW they want to make that money. I, personally, am nowhere near the mindset of anti-establishment nor that players should be compensated tens of thousands to “give back to the people”, as a radical mindset would put it. But, being a college student and a senior this year, I see the side that makes a student hurt when he has to pay for food but can’t even get a dollar; or do laundry that costs $1 in coins and have to ask for quarters. All the while the stadium gets new grass because the sod wasn’t pleasing to the eye and artificial turf is “cooler”.

    I’m simply saying SOMETHING needs to change. And doing nothing will only create more radical ideas from people feeling taken advantage of.

  • marcusgresham

    I agree with you, but if the whole thing was blown up and the schools started over schools like UNC would be even less accountable for this kind of stuff than that already seem to be.

  • marcusgresham

    Yes they do get all that, but the flip side is that the ones who don’t have families that can send them money can’t even get money to take a girl out on a date or menial things like that. I do see the argument against paying them large sums, but they also aren’t allowed to get jobs so there needs to be some kind of allowances made.

  • marcusgresham

    Larry Bird would be a perfect example. I know for a fact his mother had to go to a loan company just to buy him clothes to go to college.

  • IUMIKE1

    YEP ! That’s the main reason that I like to refer to them as the taliban of major college sports and refuse to capitalize the acronym on the rare occasion that I slip up and call them that. IMHO all it would take is for 3 or 4 of the major schools, i.e. Duke, pUKe, Kansas, IU, in bball, and/or Alabama, Ohio State, UM in football, to seriously threaten to leave their corrupt organization and there would at the very least be some huge changes and it wouldn’t take years for it to happen. When they see the biggest breadwinners heading for the doors their obvious lack of sanity and brains will be something that they can very quickly change.

  • IUMIKE1

    A thousand thank yous from my keyboard and fingers. lol

  • Bankshot

    I’m paying for my daughter to go to I.U. She isn’t getting an ALL expense paid trip to Hawaii!

  • 4 the Leaders

    And I am paying for myself to go to Indiana State. I understand what you mean, it’s an “above and beyond” from the normal college student life. But one “perk” (which I can easily attribute to something that is required based on the sport you’re in, not something that’s a gift) does not take away any from my point earlier.

    As a college student MYSELF, not in basketball, I’m saying that I completely understand why they need to be paid in someway. I know how it is to barely make ends meet, because I feel it every single week. But I don’t feel I should get money from the school because I’m not being used for capital gain and profit. Athletes, however, are.

  • Bankshot

    If you think that is the only perk that I.U. basketball players are receiving, than you need to do some more homework. Free tutors, training table meals and full athletic wardrobe. No one made them sign a scholarship. It was their choice. They can get a loan like most college students and pay it back with their free education or NBA money.

  • Bankshot

    Just a thought. The universities could give them no-interest loans that would be payed back in a specified time frame after they leave school.

  • 4 the Leaders

    -Almost all colleges provide free tutor services. I haven’t been to nor heard of a college that charges for tutoring.
    -Training table meals are the equivalent of a school lunch.
    -And complaining about a full athletic wardrobe is like saying the band gets too many perks because they have uniforms and instruments.

    In the end, it doesn’t matter though because nothing has changed so far. I appreciate the back and forth, Bankshot. Helped me think of the other side of the argument a bit more. No sarcasm.

    The thing that really matters… GO HOOSIERS!

  • Bankshot

    free tutor services =false!
    training table meals=steak and lobster
    band members have to pay for their instruments!

  • Bankshot

    Hey, its all good, but I have never seen a band member wear a band uniform to a campus party. Just sayin HAHA