Bring on the roundball: ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla in it for the long haul

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla (Kimberly Jarvis/ESPN Images)

Coaches will tell you the profession is in their blood. It must be, because so many can’t wait to get back into the game — and do so on more than one occasion.

Fran Fraschilla, in the midst of his 11th year with ESPN, loves coaching. But Fraschilla also loves being an analyst, and working on ESPN’s game and studio coverage is revitalizing.

Fraschilla recently spurned coaching options to sign a four-year extension to remain a key analyst across ESPN’s basketball coverage. It’s a job that has taken him to campuses around the country and to see players around the world. This week, he will be in Orlando to call ESPN’s telecasts of the Old Spice Classic early-season tournament, part of Feast Week presented by Lowe’s. Fraschilla spoke with Front Row about his extension and college basketball:

On re-signing:
ESPN has become my home. It’s the perfect job for a basketball addict like myself. While I was a college coach for 23 years, I have been a basketball fan since I was 12 years old and following the great New York Knicks teams of Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. I have an appreciation for all aspects of the game, including its history. So, hopefully, my knowledge and passion translates to our viewers.

On which he prefers, being an analyst or coach:
I feel like I am still coaching when I call a game and usually can anticipate what the coaches are attempting to do against their opponents. It’s an adrenaline rush when you can describe something for the viewer before it actually happens. In part, that’s because I try to prepare for each game like I was coaching in it. Film breakdown and stories about the players and coaches are critical to me. Granted, I miss the pressure of competition, but in a close game on a telecast, I don’t miss the painful feeling of knowing you’re about to lose.

On Feast Week:
I love this time of the year. It has the feel of bowl season in reverse. We get to see some great matchups early in the season and find out the pretenders and contenders. I know from experience as a coach, that teams never stay the same. They either continue to improve or continue to regress as conference play unfolds. So, I like to follow which teams can improve over the next three months. ESPN gets to chronicle that improvement from now until Championship Week.