NCAAB

Bilas gets “bucket list” moment during five-day basketball journey

Jay Bilas (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Jay Bilas (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
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Tim Legler (John Atashian/ESPN Images)
Tim Legler
(John Atashian/
ESPN Images)

ESPN NBA analyst and La Salle legend Tim Legler will team with play-by-play commentator John Saunders to cover the La Salle versus Temple contest (Saturday, noon ET, ESPN2). Legler will join the “College GameDay” crew for a segment prior to the game.

“It’s going to be really cool to be back. I haven’t been back in the Palestra in probably 10 years,” Legler said. “One thing about the Palestra and Big 5 basketball – the faces stay the same. It’s such a fraternity being associated with Philadelphia basketball and I know I’m going to see a lot of those same people.”

A member of La Salle’s Hall of Athletes, Legler played at the Palestra from 1984-88, leading the team to an NCAA Tournament berth his senior year. He recalled a close loss to then-No. 4 North Carolina his junior year as a favorite memory.

“I thought it was the best gym you could ever shoot a basketball in, which was lucky for me,” he said.
– By Kristen Hudak [/box]

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas will embark on a hectic schedule starting tonight (Memphis-Connecticut, ESPN, 7 p.m. ET) that includes a NBA-college basketball crossover. Tomorrow, he will join the ESPN NBA team of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Lisa Salters to provide commentary as the New York Knicks host the Los Angeles Clippers (7 p.m., ESPN).

Van Gundy will then team with Bilas, Sean McDonough and Jeannine Edwards for ESPN’s Big Monday contest featuring North Carolina at Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN). Bilas will also work College GameDay from the historic Palestra on Saturday (ESPN, 11 a.m. & 8 p.m./ESPNU, 10 a.m.).

Front Row caught up with Bilas before the outset of his five-day basketball journey:

How do you prepare for two college games, an NBA game and the three-hour GameDay show?
I prepare the same way for college games as I always have, watching game film and scouting the game the way I normally do. Preparing for this NBA game is totally different. I am not the lone analyst on the game, and I see myself as being in a support role. I have worked with Jeff before on the NBA Draft, and I couldn’t be happier to have the chance to work with him and Mike.

Do you keep up with the NBA, and how will the transition be with different players and game rules?
I follow the NBA and watch the games as often as I can, given the high volume of college basketball games I watch. College is my passion and my job, but I absolutely love the NBA, and I think college basketball can benefit from the use of several NBA rules. Of course, it would be silly to suggest I know the NBA game the way I know college, but I have seen all of the players play before, most of them in high school. I’m just looking forward to working with two amazing pros in Mike and Jeff. I’ll “Walter Mitty” my way through this bucket list item and enjoy every minute of the ride.

What does it mean to have ESPN’s support in giving you the opportunity to call your first NBA game on top of your usual responsibilities?
It is something we have talked about several times over the years, and I look forward to more opportunities in the future.

What are you most looking forward to over this busy weekend?
The people I have the honor to work alongside. I get to work with Dave O’Brien on UConn-Memphis, then Jeff and Mike for Clippers-Knicks, then with Rece Davis, Jalen Rose, Digger Phelps and our amazing crew. To borrow from [former football coach] Jack Harbaugh, who’s got it better than me? No-body!

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