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Jay Bilas addresses his problem with the state of college basketball

Jonathan Wagner02/25/22
Article written by:On3 imageJonathan Wagner


Ethan Miller/Getty Images

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas sees some issues with where the game of college basketball is today. Bilas, who is currently on the competition committee for college basketball, believes that it is tough to put all of the blame on officials, mostly due to the fact that the game has evolved into a physical game that involves a lot of grabbing, which can be tough on officials to call.

“Yeah it’s gotten difficult,” Bilas said on the Paul Finebaum Show about officiating in college basketball. “What I would say, and Paul, I’m on the competition committee which used to be called the men’s basketball officiating committee. Jim Delany, the former commissioner of the Big Ten, started it maybe ten years ago and I’ve been on the committee ever since. So I’ve studied this. And it’s not about the officials, because overall I think the officials do a really good job. They’re pros. But we’ve had – probably about five years ago, we got to a point where scoring got to an all-time low.

“The game has become kind of like the NBA in the 90s, where it was a clutch and grab game, grabbing of cutters, your hands all over a ball handler. And you didn’t have to play basketball anymore. Not every defender is good enough or entitled to guard every offensive player. So if I’m guarding you and you’re a superior athlete and you blow by me, I can’t put my hands on you to impede you illegally. What my team would have to do is bring another defender to help, maybe you pass out of it. We rotate, and then you pass out of that. Or you bring a double team. Or you trap the ball and they pass out of it and rotate. That’s basketball.”

Bilas: Today’s style of college basketball has ‘become very difficult to deal with’

Bilas played college basketball at Duke from 1982-1986. He was drafted in 1986 and played overseas until 1989. He then came back to Duke in 1989 as an assistant coach. Now, he believes that the game has become hard to deal with.

“We’ve devolved into what we had about five years ago, which was a lot of grabbing of cutters and it’s egregious,” Bilas said. “I have too much respect for the officials to say that they’re missing these calls. Like occasionally in a game you’ll have a missed call. A charge block is miscalled or maybe somebody steps out of bounds and you don’t see it. That happens and you don’t blame officials for that. You have so many plays. What I’m talking about is these recurring plays that happen over and over again. So the game has become far more physical off the ball and on the ball with cutters, getting grabbed and bumped, and drivers, getting grabbed and bumped.

“It’s become very difficult to deal with. And as a result – this is one of the ways I tell, Paul, it’s not just what I’m seeing on the court. It’s what I’m hearing coaches teach in practice. And now in practices I go to, coaches are teaching their players how to foul because they know the officials won’t call it. And I hear them say when you come over as a help defender, throw your chest into the offensive player because they aren’t going to call it. And if they do call it, that one’s on me, that kind of thing.”

Bilas went as far to say that if the people in charge, himself included, can’t figure out ways to make the game better, then new people need to be put in charge to make those positive changes to college basketball.

“I don’t blame the officials, I blame their bosses,” Bilas added. “And then I blame the committees – the rules committee and the competition committee that I’m on. Frankly, I’m thinking about resigning. If we can’t do a better job, then somebody needs to be in there that can.”