Behind The ScenesNCAAB

Authors Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas set for ESPN International TV analysis duties from Final Four in Atlanta

Editor’s note: In the video above, ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas takes you behind the scenes of the ESPN “Car Wash.”

ATLANTA — Basketball analysts Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas have myriad duties this weekend as part of ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage of the men’s Final Four.

On SportsCenter and College GameDay, each will be providing analysis surrounding the semifinals Saturday and the national championship game on Monday night.

In addition, each will work for ESPN International as analysts calling the Final Four action. For the first time in his 34-year ESPN career, Vitale will serve as a Final Four game analyst on the telecasts, providing insight into the Louisville versus Wichita State semifinal and the championship game; Bilas will call the Syracuse-Michigan semifinal for ESPN International.

Brad Nessler will handle play-by-play on all three Final Four games. The ESPN International coverage will reach sports fans in 150 countries and territories across 35 television and broadcast networks outside of the United States.

Both Vitale and Bilas found time in their busy schedules to author books. Vitale’s is called Getting A W In The Game Of Life. Bilas wrote Toughness: Developing True Strength On and Off the Court.

Each shared his thoughts on his book with Front Row.

Why did you write this book?
DV: People have been asking me for quite a while about my motivational speeches. We have been proud of the reviews and feedback we have received.
JB: I wrote an article on toughness for ESPN.com in 2009, and was overwhelmed by the response. I heard from coaches, players, parents, soldiers and others from all over the world about how they used the article and applied it to their lives. College, high school and pro coaches told me they used it with their teams. From that, I knew there was an appetite for more on the subject, and that toughness was an attribute that was admired and needed beyond basketball. Toughness is a skill, a valued skill, and it is not a question of size, age or gender.

What was the biggest challenge for you during the writing process?
DV: To make sure there is a flow and get the facts in there that work. I wanted to make sure everyone could enjoy it, though it is geared for younger people.
JB: This is my first book. The challenge was getting over the mental hurdle of [asking], “Who am I to write about toughness?” I think I’ve shown some real toughness in my life, but I don’t profess to be the toughest person around. But, I sought out the toughest people I know who know the subject. I have had a lot of great toughness teachers, and they’re prominent in the book.

Any writers or books who have influenced you and your writing style?
DV: When you talk about writing, I have always worked in conjunction with great writers. I love to speak and they transfer over my words.
JB: I’m a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, David Halberstam, and I’m a huge fan of [ESPN colleagues] Bill Simmons and Wright Thompson. I’m not sure I have a writing style. I just write what I think and feel. I don’t think of myself as a writer. I’m just a guy who wrote a book.

What do you want the reader to learn from the book?
DV: It is geared to people pursuing dreams and goals. Hopefully they can learn from my theories in the game of life, good times and bad times. Sometimes you have to pick up the pieces and figure out how to pursue various situations.
JB: I hope people will take from it that none of us are born tough, but we all can be. Whether you’re an athlete, a student, an employee, a parent, a spouse or a patient fighting a disease, toughness is our ability to concentrate on what’s important, put aside the negative that can get in our way, and fight. When we fall, and we all do, our toughness gets us up and back into the fight. I hope it will inspire, because it inspired me.

Mike Humes contributed to this post
Video produced by Dave Williams

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