ESPN college basketball analysts Jimmy Dykes and Fran Fraschilla will have to use the lessons they’ve learned from their play-by-play partners in this season’s first for each. The two, who have never worked a game together, will take on the roles of play-by-play and analyst for South Carolina at Baylor (tomorrow, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN) as part of the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
For Fraschilla and Dykes, who pride themselves on being prepared and knowledgeable, the assignment has added a layer to their pre-game routines: balancing the role of play-by-play between them to give fans a great viewing experience. Front Row had the duo interview each other to get a feel for how this unique assignment might shake out.[box color=black size=small align=right]
I met Fran in 1999 during his first year as head coach at New Mexico. I most vividly remember two things about those days. Fran used as much or more energy in practice than his players. As a player, you have to be embarrassed if your coach works harder than you and I’m pretty sure that happened on several occasions.
Secondly, it was a family affair on game nights. His two young sons dressed up as the small Lobo mascots and ran around the court as part of the cheer squad. Meanwhile, his wife always sat behind the visitor’s basket in the second half. She was as good as I’ve ever seen distracting the opposing team’s free throw shooters with all kinds of signs, spinning tops and anything else that would help the cause from that rowdy end zone section. That family did game nights like none I’ve ever seen.
I can’t remember exactly the first time I met Jimmy, but we became very well-acquainted when he and Bob Carpenter did a million Mountain West Conference games when I was coaching at New Mexico. In fact, one year, he did five straight Lobo games (three in the conference tournament and two in the NIT) and I thought he was going to move in with my family. Even then I admired his preparation for games and his passion for basketball.[/box]
Dykes: What have you learned from working with Brent Musburger on Big Monday?
Fraschilla: I’ve learned how to have fun and not take yourself too seriously. He is such a legend and I love picking his brain about all of the historic games, teams, coaches and players he’s covered. He’s like a little kid on Christmas morning when the game is about to tip off.
Fraschilla: What have you learned from Brad Nessler on Super Tuesday?
Dykes: I’ve learned a ton about broadcasting. Strive to be great in the great moments and there are different ways to go about it. Sometimes it’s analyzing and sometimes it’s just taking it all in like everyone else. Staying humble and how to treat people on a day-to-day basis is really important.
Dykes: I know both of your sons are now playing college hoops, one at Oklahoma and the other at Harvard. How much will you talk about the Sooners and Crimson during our two hour telecast?
Fraschilla: When my sons pay my ESPN salary I will mention them all the time in my games. But if we talk about how good Oklahoma or Harvard can be this year, I hope I have an informed opinion. No nepotism!
Fraschilla: What’s a typical game day routine for you?
Dykes: I start my game day with my daily devotional time and exercise. From that point on I’m either watching film, going to practices, meeting with coaches, on the phone getting information for my scouting reports or meeting with our crew. I try to be at the arena about one and a half hours prior to tip. Any longer than that, and I get stagnant. After the game, I go straight to my room for room service and a few hours of sleep before the next day’s flight.
Dykes: What time do you get to the arena before a telecast and what is your routine before opening tip?
Fraschilla: I like to get there about two hours before game time, and although 95 percent of the preparation is done, I’m still looking to catch up with players, coaches and local media for those last minute nuggets I can use in the telecast.
Fraschilla: What’s been your biggest thrill at ESPN?
Dykes: I’d have to say my first Super Tuesday telecast about six years ago. It was my first time working with Brad and I quickly realized it was time to step up my game. I also worked with John Anderson two years ago as part of our Final Four coverage from New Orleans. A storm blew through on Championship Monday night and we anchored our coverage from inside the dome leading up to tip. It was great to be a part of that Championship night.
Dykes: If I roll out Jimmy D’s Jet during our game together, what four teams would you place up in first class?
Fraschilla: Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State are sitting up front. You and I are serving the peanuts and drinks, cheese tortellini or the salmon salad and the oatmeal cranberry cookies for dessert. Does Tom Izzo get frequent flyer miles on the Jimmy Jet?
Fraschilla: What do you miss about coaching?
Dykes: The emotions in a locker room after a win or loss are real life stuff. I try to use my platform to have an impact on people in a positive way but I miss the direct day-to-day influence on players and staff. Some announcers say they like the fact they never worry about wins and losses anymore. I love competition and have to channel it in other areas now.