Pasch ready for whatever the pairing of Bilas and Walton deliver

(L to R) Basketball analyst Bill Walton and play-by-play commentator Dave Pasch before a regular season college basketball game. (Eric Lars Bakke/ESPN Images)
(L to R) Basketball analyst Bill Walton and play-by-play commentator Dave Pasch before a regular-season college basketball game. (Eric Lars Bakke/ESPN Images)

Each week, play-by-play veteran Dave Pasch pairs with analyst Bill Walton to call a midweek Pac-12 game. This week’s Thursday Night Showcase matchup between No. 10 Arizona and Colorado (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) also will feature ESPN analyst Jay Bilas joining the duo.

College basketball analyst Jay Bilas. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
College basketball analyst Jay Bilas.
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Front Row spoke with Pasch to see what his expectations are for calling the game with two unique, opinionated, color(ful) analysts.

How will you navigate the call of the game with Bilas and Walton?
I like working with analysts who have strong opinions, because the fan at home gets to hear another vantage point. You can engage in different types of conversations when you have varying viewpoints on a subject. I’ve worked in a number of 3-man booths in my time at ESPN, including just last Friday on the Golden State-Cleveland NBA game with Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. Both have strong opinions and often disagree. Regardless of who my analysts are, my job is to allow their personalities to cut through while directing traffic and documenting the necessities of the game in front of us.

Dave Pasch, the NFL Cardinals’ radio play-by-play voice, recently was named Arizona NSSA Sportscaster of the Year. His reaction: Anytime you are recognized by your peers, it’s very humbling. There are so many great broadcasters in the state of Arizona, and nationally, so it’s an honor to have your name mentioned in the same conversation with all of them.

How do you explain each of their personalities?
Working with Bill Walton, you never know where he’s going to go. Truly. Nothing is ever rehearsed, and he likes it that way. He wants to keep things spontaneous and see how I react live on the air. Whether it’s a basketball-related comment, has nothing to do with basketball, or it’s Bill asking me “Are you old enough to remember. . . ?” I am constantly calling a game trying to guess where he is going to go next.

With that said, I think Bill and Jay are more similar than people might think. Jay isn’t just a “basketball guy.” There is much more to him than that. Like Bill, Jay is extremely creative and likes to have fun on the air. I’m sure he will be open to some of the craziness that happens on our telecast and he may even instigate. I’m open to that and I know Bill will be also.

At the same time, both Bill and Jay will be prepared to talk about the game in front of us and tell the game-related stories that need to be told. Who knows, Jay may have so much fun that he wants to join us weekly? Or it could be a train wreck and he never wants to see either of us ever again.

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